There is so much more to archery than just picking up an arrow and shooting, and it will take a lot of patience and discipline to learn how to properly use your compound bow.
Don’t be discouraged, though. It will be fun, and you’ll feel awesome once you’ve reached that Hawkeye or Legolas level. Just know that it won’t happen overnight.
You have many things to consider when using your compound bow with or without a release. The basics remain the same, so let’s get right into those. It is recommended that you get to know your bow and familiarize yourself with how it feels in your hands and on your shoulder.
Prepare your bow
This is the first step, and you will have to attach your release before you start doing anything else. The way you do this depends on the release that you want to use.
For best results, face the target at a 45-degree angle, keeping your feet parallel to each other. Face your target with your toes – this way you’ll find it easier to draw your bow and shoot straight.
Be sure to use a firm grip, but don’t hold on too tightly, as this will affect your accuracy.
Draw your bowstring, locking your string hand against the left side of your face if you're a lefty, and the right side of your face if you use your right hand. It is recommended to anchor the string under the chin or at the corner of the mouth.
Extend your bow arm towards your target and firmly grip your string between your fingers. You can also use your release, of course. Point your bow at your target and pull the string firmly and smoothly, extending all the way.
The best way to make your aiming perfect is by hours and hours of practice. A tip is to aim a little bit above your target.
This is that make-or-break moment. To release smoothly, relax all your fingers entirely before you let go of the string. Tension from your fingers can ruin your aim.
Everything isn’t over the moment your arrow has been shot. You have to keep aiming until the arrow has hit the target. This is mainly a mental thing, but it is recommended by professionals to stay in your stance until you hear that satisfying ‘thud’.
Now that we’ve got the technicalities out of the way, let’s discuss how to use your release with your bow.
Index finger release
This release is triggered by (yes, you guessed it!) your index finger. These releases will be attached to straps that go around your wrists. The strap helps in drawing the string by joining your arm and hand muscles. This will be connected to you at all times, and it connects to your bowstring with 1 or 2 moving ‘jaws’ that will clamp on to it.
It can also be attached with a rope loop or an open hook. To use, you will come to full draw and curl your finger around the trigger post. Do not squeeze the way you would with a gun – you want to wrap your finger around that post and pull through using your whole arm.
Thumb trigger release
As its name suggests, the release will be triggered by your thumb. Some of these releases can be attached to wrist straps, but you’ll mostly find them as handhelds. They will connect to your bowstring with enclosed jaws, a rope loop, or an open hook.
The thumb trigger is used like a back tension release – you pull your shoulder blades together and your arm will simultaneously be pulling backward – but with the control of the release provided by a trigger.
In archery, the mechanical release that surprises you is considered the best one. That’s because your body won’t anticipate the shot and react by flinching. That is how hinge releases work to improve your shots. They are connected to your string via an open hook.
You will hook the release to your string, come to full draw, and just squeeze your shoulder blades together. You won’t know exactly when the trigger will be released, and you’ll have a surprise shot.
This is also a handheld release and is usually preferred by target archers. It works by a build-up in pressure at full draw – which, again, takes place because of your shoulder blades.
It will be clipped into your string with its open hook, and you will draw with your thumb around its safety mechanism. You will simply release that safety and start pulling your shoulder blades together.
With the above information, you now know the answer to the question of how to shoot a compound bow with a release? Go forth and enjoy your next archery experience!