When I started bowhunting I started with a wrist style release. I believe that most bowhunters that use a release use a wrist release. At the same time most target archers use a handheld or even a back-tension release. This got me to thinking and there must be a reason why target archers don’t use a wrist release, and I believe the reason is accuracy.
I decided to give a handheld release a try recently so I bought an Easy 1 by Carter. It is a four finger thumb trigger model. The wrist release that I have used for the past year is the Wildcat by Scott Archery. I have heard of some people using a back-tension release for hunting, but I figured I better try a thumb trigger model first. After getting my new release I set up my bow to use it. Even though with the two releases my hand is in a different position at full draw my peep sight was in the correct position for both releases. The thing that I did change was the d-loop. With the handheld release the loop is slightly twisted at full draw. To minimize any torque that may occur I replaced the old loop with a new one made of a thinner, more flexible material.
I wanted to do a test between the two releases so after getting used to the Easy 1 I performed an accuracy test. I chose to shoot from a distance of 40 yards because I figured that was far enough that I should be able to see a difference, if any, and it is a distance I am comfortable shooting. I shot 30 arrows spread out over a few shooting sessions with each release. I also shot outside, so I shot when there was no wind, which was kind of hard to get where I live.
The results of the test were not drastic, but there was a difference. With the handheld release I shot a group of 4 5/16 inches and 5 3/16 inches with the wrist release. A difference of 7/8 of an inch. This may not seem like a lot, but looking at the target the handheld release seems to be a much more consistent group. Also, if the outside hit was taken out, which was probably human error, the group would have been under four inches. At the same time, I believe this shot should be counted because this shows which release I had fewer bad shots with. Another thing that I learned from this test is that the two releases had different impact points. This is good to know if something happened to one of my releases and I had to use the other as a back up.
I am not sure if I will hunt with the handheld release for sure yet, but I will definitely continue to shoot with it and I believe I will continue to get more accurate with it. The reasons I am concerned about hunting with it si because it will be easy to lose and it may not be in a good place when I need it. Another thing is that it makes a noticable click when attached to the d-loop. This noise is probably loud enough for an animal to hear within close range. Other models may be quieter, but I am not sure. Overall, the shot feels better with the handheld release and with slightly better accuracy I will definitely continue to shoot with it.