How to Choose the Best Thumb Release for Hunting
I’ve used different bow releases in different situations, and I can say that a thumb release is a good choice for hunting trips. I find that it improves my shooting form, which, in turn, allows me to shoot more accurate arrows with minimum torque.
Choosing a good thumb release requires patience and good judgment. You shouldn’t immediately buy the first model you see at an archery shop. You need to examine each model carefully and see which works best for you.
Today I’m going to share useful tips on how to choose a good thumb release. Then I will share what I think are the best thumb releases for hunting.
**Below, you find more detailed reviews but you can also click links above to see current prices and read customer's reviews on Amazon.
Choosing a Good Thumb Release
Here are some basic guidelines when choosing the right thumb release for your next hunting trip:
1. Noise Level
Some bow releases make a soft click when you adjust them and others when you release your arrows. If the click is loud enough, it might warn your game of an upcoming arrow which will cause it to bolt and make you miss your shot. It might also alert other hunters to your position, which will be problematic if they try to poach your hunting area.
You should also be careful where you place your bow release when it is not in use. If not kept properly, it may clatter against your bow or another accessory, which may create unwanted noise and consequently, unwanted attention.
If you think that the bow release’s weight doesn’t matter, then think again. Actually, even the most minute difference in weight can cause your angle to change or add a slight torque to your arrows.
To test the weight of a thumb release, grip it firmly in your hand and imagine using it continuously for several hours. If you find the release too heavy to your liking, then don’t be afraid to look for one with a lighter weight.
3. Finger Grooves
Most thumb releases come in 3- or 4-finger grooves. I personally prefer a 4-finger groove release because I find that it makes my grip more stable. I also know hunters who like the 3-finger design better because they think it’s easier to hold. It really depends on which version you’re most comfortable with.
When checking out a thumb release, check how deep the finger grooves are, and test it out by holding it with your shooting hand. I prefer a release with deep finger grooves because this tends to improve my ability to control my hand’s angle when making a shot.
Groove tracks may add friction to your fingers, but make sure the tracks won’t cut into your skin because these may cause blisters if you use your release for too long.
There’s a wide range of prices for thumb releases, so it is best if you already have a set budget before you start canvassing for models. If you’re willing to splurge a little, I recommend getting a thumb release that is a bit pricey but is made from durable and high-quality materials that will last.
If you’re a beginner hunter who doesn’t want to invest a lot on accessories until you’ve gotten the hang of shooting a compound bow, then there are also more economical choices out there that are still of good quality.
The important thing is to not sacrifice the quality of your bow release just because you want to save some money. Remember: You may end up spending more in the long run if you have to buy a new release after the first one breaks too soon.
How to Use a Thumb Release
Here are some simple pointers and tips that may help you use a thumb release properly:
Place your fingers in the finger grooves for a firm grip. Note that if you’re using a 3-groove release, your pinky finger will basically be outside the release’s body, so it may feel a bit awkward if you’re not used to it.
When drawing your bowstring, position your thumb behind the release’s trigger. After reaching your anchor point, you can now move your thumb, wrap it around the trigger, and start pulling until the arrow releases. Avoid squeezing the trigger with your thumb but wait for it to automatically release once it reaches the correct angle.
When finding your anchor, use your index and middle knuckles as a reference point and line them up with your jawline at an angle of around 45 degrees. A good way to know if you’re slightly off-angle is when you can feel your ring knuckle on your cheek. If this happens, carefully readjust your hand so that it angles away from you.
If you want to improve your aim, you can practice using a shot trainer to help you be more familiar with how to use your thumb release properly.
Best Thumb Release for Hunting
If you find it easier to use your thumb to release your arrow, then you may want to try the Tru Ball Max Hunter Pro 4 Release. It’s a lightweight but compact model that has good trigger sensitivity so you won’t have to overexert your hand when making a shot.
One of my favorite features of this model is its four-finger groove design. I love that I can position my pinky finger properly because I found that this helps me improve my shots. Also, its jaws can swivel 360 degrees, so I can easily adjust it to adapt to my shooting angle.
I have noticed, though, that the jaws tend to be a little stiff and may remain open if they are not oiled properly. This may cause misfires, so make sure you lube your release first before using it.
- Compact and solid
- 360-degree swivel head
- Comes with four-finger grooves for better stability
- Easy sensitivity screw adjustments
- Cheaper than other thumb release brands
- May be a little stiff if not oiled properly
- May misfire when the calipers get stuck open
- Not ideal for bow hunters with grip strength concerns
I find that the Tru-Fire Hardcore 4 Revolution Archery Release is a good starter bow release if you’re shifting from a strap release to a handheld release. Its hook mechanism is similar to some wrist strap releases so it’s easier to adjust if you’re used to the former.
The four-finger release grooves keep your fingers comfortably in place and give you a good grip on the release. Its head can also rotate at a 360-degree angle so you won’t have to worry about making awkward draws.
I think the lanyard is a nice touch because it allows you to easily hang the release on a hook for easier access. Be mindful though that it may distract you if you leave it dangling before taking a shot.
I have also experienced snags a few times when I first tried this release. This made my cord thinner and more prone to snapping, so keep an eye out for that, too.
- With 360-degree rotating head
- Single claw design for easier loop hook-up
- Four-finger release grooves keep d-loop closer to shooting hand
- Good starter release for new bow hunters
- Comes with a lanyard for easier access
- May be too small for bow hunters with bigger hands
- Hook may snag and snap shooting cords
- The string retainer is a bit thin and gets bent too easily
If you don’t mind paying a lot for a high-quality thumb release, then the Carter Enterprises Wise Choice 3-Finger Release may be a good pick for you. Once you’ve gotten over the money you splurged, you’ll realize that this release is worth the extra dollars you spent.
While this model features all the good things that the Carter Enterprises’ First Choice Release offers, it also comes with an index finger hole, allowing you a better and firmer grip on the release. The self-closing caliper jaw and great trigger sensitivity allow you to focus more on your anchor point and less on when the arrows will fly.
I also love how easy it is to adjust the tension of this release. Each package comes with its own Allen wrench, which you can stick inside the key and wind in or out, depending on your preference.
I did, however, find that the keys may catch dirt quite easily, which may cause the release to malfunction. To avoid this, I recommend cleaning your release regularly to remove any dirt or gunk that may get stuck in its holes.
- Features an index finger hole for a firmer grip
- Caliper jaw is self-closing
- Good trigger sensitivity
- No-spring easy tension adjustment
- Comes with a cord for easier access
- Tension may be too heavy during first-time use
- Keys may accumulate dirt quickly
- Three-finger release groove design only
- Expensive compared to other thumb release brands
I love the full containment system (FCS) of the Tru Ball Archery Fang. The hook-style jaw releases smoothly and lets me adjust to my hunting situation. When I need to go hands-free, I just slide the FCS to lock the release to my d-loop, and when I need to shoot continuously, I slide the FCS back to release it.
My main issue with this product is that I find it a bit hard to grip. The finger grooves are too shallow for my liking, so I end up uncomfortable after several hours of nonstop hunting. The grooves are also lined in the center so they might make your fingers hurt if you don’t wear gloves.
Still, I think that this model is worth looking into, if only for its reasonable price and its unique FCS feature.
- Features a full containment system (FCS)
- Comes with a hook-style jaw great for hands-free hunting situations
- Crisp and quiet arrow release
- Good thumb trigger adjustability
- May not be ideal for hunters with big hands
- Jaw may twist your bow’s d-loop
- Jaw may be too sensitive and misfire if not used properly
- Finger grooves are not as comfortable as other brands
Looking for a cheap thumb release that offers good features? Then you may want to check out the Hot Shot Vapor 4 Release. I find that this is one of the cheaper brands in the market right now that doesn’t completely sacrifice its quality because of the price.
I like this model’s automatic closing jaw so it’s easier to clip it on the d-loop. However, I recommend against leaving it hanging on the loop while you’re chasing your game since there’s a tendency that it may fall off because of its weight.
Surprisingly, this thumb release is actually very quiet, and even at par with the more expensive brands. Unfortunately, it’s stationary and doesn’t come with a 360-degree swivel head, so I’ve had experiences of missed shots because I had to hold the bow and release in awkward angles.
Tension and thumb trigger are easy to adjust, and it comes in 4-finger grooves, which is always a plus for me.
- Features an automatic closing caliper jaw
- Comes with a zero noise internal actuating system
- Easy adjustments on thumb trigger and tension
- Cheaper than other thumb releases
- Does not come with a 360-degree swivel head
- A bit easy to fall off and may snap d-loops quickly
- A bit cold to the touch especially during low-temperature days
If you’re looking for an inexpensive but good-quality thumb release, I highly recommend the Tru Ball Max Hunter Pro 4 Release. I love how light it is and how easy it is to adjust. The way it’s designed—compact, solid, with 4-finger grooves—allows me to have a smoother, better experience when shooting my arrows.
If you’re willing to invest a bit more money, then the Carter Enterprises Wise Choice 3-Finger Release may also be a good choice. I like its index-hole design because it is comfortable to grip, and I absolutely love how sensitive its trigger is. It’s also very easy to adjust, and it even comes with its own Allen wrench!