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Here's How to Tune Your Bow Release

Tune your bow release for more accurate and consistent shooting using these tips.

There are several types of archery releases available, including the target (aka handheld), wrist strap and glove release. These names reflect how the release aids are supported and how the mechanisms are contained.

There are also several types of mechanisms, including single and double calipers and string hooks. There are also trigger operated mechanisms and back-pressure operated mechanisms.


Photo via Cobra Archery


Regardless of what type of bow release you have, they all have similar parts that interact to lock the string attachment and release it. The string attachment pivots into the closed or locked position and is held there by a sear, sometimes called a shear in the archery industry. A trigger releases the sear. The trigger can be an external part similar to a trigger on a firearms, or it can be an internal part that releases at a certain point based on back-pressure.

Tuning your bow release means making the available adjustments to suit your personal preferences and required functionality. Proper tuning can also affect the safety of your release aid. That is, it can make it incapable of locking the string under pressure or it can prematurely release when you did not intend it to. Not every single release available is adjustable. The amount of adjustability often correlates to the price-point of the release, with the more expensive releases offering fine tuning adjustments. The adjustments that are available include the external trigger angle, the trigger travel and the trigger tension.

Releases with trigger travel adjustments will have a screw that goes through the mechanism into the housing. There may be a set-screw to lock down the trigger travel adjustment screw.
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Trigger travel is the amount of movement the external trigger will have prior to engaging and putting pressure on the sear. More complicated releases also offer an over-travel adjustment that regulates how much the external trigger moves after the sear releases. An experienced shooter should set the initial trigger travel so the trigger has little or no movement when the release is locked onto the string and the sear is engaged. Movement of the trigger before the actual pressure to release the string beings can result in more bow movement and sometimes leads to "punching the trigger" which is counter-productive to accuracy. For and inexperienced shooter or while becoming familiar with a new bow some movement prior to trigger engagement can provide for a measure of safety since it requires more intentional effort to get the trigger to release the sear.

Wynn archery release
Photo via Wynn Archery

Trigger tension is the amount of pressure necessary to "get the bow to fire" or in other words to release the sear. Similar to a firearm trigger, a bow release trigger pull is the amount of force necessary to disengage the sear. The archery community often refers to this as trigger sensitivity.

Most releases have an adjustment screw and a set screw to tune the trigger tension. Some more advanced bow releases will have a tension dial. Others may have a series of holes in which to move the adjustment screw to increase or decrease the pressure required to release the sear. In either case, adjustment puts pressure on the internal part of the trigger and limits the amount is engages with the sear.

The more the engagement of the two parts, the more pressure that is needed to separate them and release the sear, causing the string to release. This adjustment should be set so it allows the trigger to "go off" when you intend it to by putting pressure on it.

However, it should not take so much pressure that you have to lay into it to get it to release. Ideally, you should be putting consistent slight pressure on the trigger and the sear release should almost come as a surprise. Heavy trigger pulls result in pulling the sights off target, torquing the bow and "slapping" or "yanking" the trigger. As with the travel adjustments, beginners and those unfamiliar with a bow or unacquainted with this particular release may benefit from a bit heavier trigger to avoid unintentional release until they become used to it.

Scott release
Photo via Scott Archery

Whenever you adjust the trigger travel or the trigger sensitivity, you should thoroughly test the bow release on something other than your bow. A shoe-sting or spare bow string mounted to a permanent fixture is a good idea. You want to be able to pull back with the same amount of pressure as you would with your bow.

If the release is going to fail due to being over adjusted, now is the time to figure that out. Make sure the bow release does not let go of the string under any circumstances other than complete, intentional trigger pressure.

The other common adjustment to tune your bow release is the head positioning, which primarily applies to wrist strap style bow releases. This is the length that the mechanism extends into your hand.

The wrist strap will have a shaft that extends to hold the head or mechanism with the trigger. Some shafts are threaded and can be screwed in to shorten the length or screwed out to lengthen it. Others will have a screw that secures a telescoping inner shaft to the supporting outer shaft. Another type uses a nut and bolt fixture on the wrist strap itself to adjust the length by utilizing corresponding holes in the shaft.

Proper length adjustment will position the trigger so that the back of your hand remains flat and your fingers curl over and your index finger rests upon the trigger. You do not want your hand to form a fist. A fist configuration limits your fingers dexterity therefore limiting the sensitivity and movement you can impart on the trigger.

Some bow releases will feature adjustable trigger positioning. This adjustment moves the physical trigger either forward or rearward. This directly effects how much contact your finger has with the trigger as well as the amount of reach necessary for your finger to be properly placed on the trigger.

Be sure to always follow the manufacturers guidelines when adjusting and tuning your bow release. Staying within the guidelines will prevent accidental or premature string release as well as minimize the potential for damaging your release.

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How do you tune your bow release?  Let us know.


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Here's How to Tune Your Bow Release