A Guide To Bow Release Aids

Mamba Release Leather Loop LockA smooth release is everything; it defines accuracy, and determines whether or not you will make a clean kill. To make the perfect shot, you need the right bow release. Yet, even the most skilled fingers may cause the string’s forward momentum to lose center upon release. Mechanical bow releases were invented to compensate for this natural “roll-off,” as it is sometimes called. They were designed to eliminate unwanted vibrations in the string that change an arrow’s flight path.

Mechanical Bow Release

Predominantly, there are two basic types of mechanical bow releases. One is known as a caliper, and the other is known as a “hand held.” There are key differences, but the major one is that a caliper attaches to the wrist securely, while the handheld does not.

  • Caliper. Sometimes called a wrist release, a caliper consists of a wrist strap, a rod or rope, and a “trigger.” The strap attaches to the wrist with velcro or buckles, and the caliper attaches to the string. Release is made by activating the trigger with the index finger. Today’s choices are numerous–there are literally a hundred variations on the theme. Prominent features include styles of straps, trigger tension adjustments, length adjustments between strap and trigger, rotating heads, and other various features, depending on the manufacturer. Some automatic calipers can even be “programmed” for a timed release.
  • Handhelds. Also known as finger release. These typically have a recognizable “T” shape to them, though there are several variations. The entire device is held in the hand, rather than secured to the wrist. Because they actually clamp onto the string, they allow hands-free movement. Triggers are very responsive.


Mechanical release aids are the results of technological progression from more primitive innovations. While there are various non-mechanical designs, many work with lengths of looped string and/or back pressure. Most commercially manufactured release aids were originally based on home made designs, which have since evolved to become “mechanized.” Though not as popular, non-mechanical bow release aids are still available today.

It’s a foregone conclusion that release aids have been around longer than the compound bow, though they are traditionally associated with compound bow hunting. Archers were looking for faster, more accurate releases–which led to compound bows in the first place. Today’s mechanical bow release aids are the result of compound bow innovations, and can improve accuracy dramatically by reducing bow release torque. Keeping the string’s forward momentum aligned with the target during release is a major factor in accuracy.

Visit our Dealer Locator to find a Cobra dealer near you.