By: Murphy Simpson
I finally bought a thumb release and you should too.
I’ve always taken care and consideration when selecting a good release. In my opinion it’s the most crucial piece of gear when it comes to bow hunting. You want something reliable, durable, and above all, consistent. I had seen the various thumb releases on the shelves, for sale on archery forums, and in a good amount of reviews, but like a lot of my fellow bow hunters, I always thought “that silly thing just isn’t for me.” I think we are all willing to evolve our craft to some extent, but some things are just too far of a leap to even consider. I figured I would have to start from scratch and almost learn how to shoot all over again, or worse I wouldn’t be able to operate one properly and that’s something my fragile ego just wouldn’t be able to handle! Nevertheless, there I was in my local archery shop as my very trusted bow tech started to work on fletching some new shafts I had been waiting for, and I said, “You know what?! Screw it! Let me try one of these thumb releases, Dillon!”. My bow tech laughed at me. He had made several attempts to get me to give thumb release a shot and his laugh was all too telling what he was thinking. He grabbed several off the shelves (mostly Carters) and began to give me the run down on how they work.
I was still pretty apprehensive at this point and knew there was a good chance there might be a new permanent decoration on the ceiling compliments of Murphy if I didn’t pay close attention. I nocked my first arrow, Carter ‘Just b cuz’ release in hand, locked in the release, pulled back, settled, and sank my first arrow 1 cm off dead center of the X. I was shocked, amazed, but most of all, I was HOOKED. I proceeded to shoot the rest of the selection Dillion had laid out for me–shooting the tightest groups I’ve ever shot, full stop! I played around with them all, feeling the different grips, 2 vs 3 vs 4 fingers. I adjusted the barrels to better fit my thumb. I played with the tension until I got it just right. I finally landed on the Carter Chocolate Lite.
The Carter Chocolate Lite is a nice 4 finger release with the capability to lock the jaw around the D-loop with a simple click; it fit perfectly in my hand and there was no way I was leaving without it. Now, it wasn’t lost on me, that I could have just been really on my game that day so I did strap back on my trusted Fuse index release which has started the journey of thousands and thousands of arrows over the years and always had done everything I had asked of it without failure. Lo and behold, I could not replicate the groups I was making with any of the thumb releases. While I’d love to say the Carter Chocolate Lite is the best that I shot, I really can’t. I can speak to the Carter design in general in that nothing really came close to the quality, but these designs are so subjective to different shooters, hand size, and finger length. When you do start your quest for a thumb release, I suggest the same thing I suggest when looking for a new bow, SHOOT THEM ALL!
There are a few very distinct advantages I noticed when shooting the Carter line and thumb releases in general. First off, my target panic (that I never realized I had) vanished. I was more comfortable at full draw than I had ever been and had more control over my release than I thought was possible. Second, your anchor points are much more solid. With a thumb release you use the saddle of your index and middle finger knuckles to straddle your jaw at full draw. This is an incredibly consistent and solid anchor point and undoubtedly tightening up your groups.
Third, it was a lot easier and quicker to nock an arrow, lock the claw, come to draw and settle than it is with most quality index releases. Now, there are a few draw backs to these releases as well. They all make noise. When both locking the claw and firing there’s a mild clicking sound. It wasn’t lost on me that this could be a problem when hunting, but there are definitely ways to adapt to this to avoid spooking an animal. The other issue is the worry of dropping and losing it as it’s not securely strapped to your wrist like most trigger releases. This is easily remedied by attaching a simple lanyard to your release and securing that to your wrist. Over the past 5 seasons, I started carrying a backup release with me regardless and I would suggest the same practice even more so now if you do make the switch to a thumb release. I also recommend practicing with a draw rig like the one pictured as well.
This will help you learn proper technique, form, and follow through. I made this one out of some paracord, electrical tape, and an old arrow shaft. For the first few nights I owned my Carter, I spent quite a bit of time in front of a mirror ironing out my technique. To summarize my thoughts, I highly recommend trying out a thumb release. They might not be your first choice or they might ‘cramp’ your hunting style, but you won’t know until you dive in and give them a try. Some of the better thumb releases on the market today, in addition to Carter releases, are Stanislawski Perfex, Hot Shot Tempest, T.R.U Ball Rave, and many others.
If you haven’t shot one yet, go down to your local bow shop and give them an honest shot! This one small piece of gear could be the edge you need to finally kill that six point elk or that monster buck on your camera! If you have any questions or input add a comment below and I’ll do my best to answer!