2022 Bowhunting Resolution: Try a Thumb-Style Release

The author has used the same index-style release ever since switching from finger-shooting 25 years ago. Here’s why he’s changing to a thumb-style release.

2022 Bowhunting Resolution: Try a Thumb-Style Release

The author testing a thumb-style four-finger release during the 2022 Archery Trade Association Show in Louisville, Kentucky.

Fact: I’ve shot the same brand and model of release since compounds became too short to shoot effectively with fingers. Twenty-five years ago I chose an index-style release and never looked back. Until now.

While walking the many aisles of the annual Archery Trade Association Show recently, I spotted an opening along the tables of Spot Hogg’s large booth, so I slipped in and started snooping. A Saunders Firing-Line release trainer was on the table in front of me, too, so I used it with several different Spot Hogg Whipper Snapper thumb-style releases. The Saunders device allowed me to mimic a real-life bow shot (draw weight of about 25 pounds) without actually shooting a compound.

The author experiments with attaching a thumb-style release to a Saunders Firing-Line release trainer.
The author experiments with attaching a thumb-style release to a Saunders Firing-Line release trainer.

As I was “shooting,” Kris Christensen, marketing manager for Spot Hogg, walked over and asked if I had any questions. I’d never met Kris before, and warned him that I would have several stupid questions. He laughed and said, “Fire away!”

We talked for 20 minutes. Along the way, Kris offered advice on proper anchor point (remember, I was new to thumb-style releases), as well as suggestions regarding size (three- vs. four-finger designs), and even adjustments of the thumb pad itself based on my finger/thumb/hand sizes. 

I consider myself an above-average shooter, and I pull through the shot and trigger my index-style release by squeezing my shoulder blades while moving my draw elbow toward the rear. I don’t punch the trigger; I hook my index finger around the trigger, then pull with my back muscles. Even though my technique is solid, the entire process has always seemed forced and unnatural. After all, as a longtime gun hunter/shooter (rifle, shotgun, muzzleloader, pistol), my index finger has been trained to squeeze/pull the trigger, but I had to consciously avoid doing so while shooting a bow.

The first time I tried a thumb-style release, and pulled through the shot with my back muscles, it felt natural. It felt right! I guess my thumb hasn’t been trained for 45 years to “pull a trigger” in the same way as my index finger. I’ll also add that I could find a repeatable and more comfortable anchor point much easier with a thumb-style release than an index-style release.

The specific Whipper Snapper I plan to use in 2022 — and hopefully beyond — is the three-finger model with closed jaws. Of course, choosing any release is largely a matter of personal preference, and as I stood there with Kris testing each model (three vs four fingers, open vs. closed jaws), I felt totally in sync with the three-finger, closed-jaw model. I’m also pleased knowing I won’t have my index-style release attached tightly to my wrist while waiting on a whitetail or turkey. I’ll keep the thumb-style release with closed jaw hanging from my bowstring D-loop until I’m ready to begin a shot sequence.

The author plans to attach a thumb release to his bowstring D-loop and leave it there until time to shoot, so he chose a closed-jaw Spot Hogg Whipper Snapper. The release on the left is the three-finger model with closed jaw; the other is a four-finger design.
The author plans to attach a thumb release to his bowstring D-loop and leave it there until time to shoot, so he chose a closed-jaw Spot Hogg Whipper Snapper. The release on the left is the three-finger model with closed jaw; the other is a four-finger design.

Kris showed me how to adjust the trigger tension (easy) on the Whipper Snapper, and offered suggestions about where I might want to set the thumb trigger barrel (also adjustable) based on my hand size and specific shooting style. Note: MSRP for my new Whipper Snapper is $119.99 (three finger, closed jaw). Contact: www.spot-hogg.com

If you’ve shot with an index-style release only and are thinking about trying a thumb-style design, I say “Go for it.” I’m excited to begin target shooting in my basement this winter with a new release design. And I’ll keep you posted in the future on whether it improves my shooting on the range and in the field. If confidence is a factor in archery accuracy — and it is — I think 2022 will be a good year for me.

Many bowhunters who pursue elk, muleys and other western game from the ground prefer a thumb-style release with open jaw (above); they find it easier and faster to “find the string” while keeping their eyes glued to their quarry during a tension-filled spot and stalk.
Many bowhunters who pursue elk, muleys and other western game from the ground prefer a thumb-style release with open jaw (above); they find it easier and faster to “find the string” while keeping their eyes glued to their quarry during a tension-filled spot and stalk.
As an Amazon Associate we earn from qualifying purchases.


Discussion

Comments on this site are submitted by users and are not endorsed by nor do they reflect the views or opinions of COLE Publishing, Inc. Comments are moderated before being posted.