Jesse Broadwater explains the hinge release, aka back tension release

When it comes to compound target archery – especially indoor compound target archery – the hinge release might just be the most popular type of release archers use.

They like it because it has no trigger, which makes it difficult to “punch.”

Often called back-tension releases, hinge releases are made by many manufacturers. Though they vary slightly in design, they all function essentially the same way.

Fulkrum

TRU Ball Fulkrum Flex 4-finger release

The hinge release employs a pivoting string hook that rides against a metal moon or sear that is mounted on a handle. The hook is locked in place by the moon during the draw cycle. At full draw, the entire handle has to be rotated to disengage the hook from the moon, which releases the bowstring.

Many allow the archer to add an audible click, by exchanging or flipping the moon. The click sounds just before the string is released so the archer has a consistent reference point to finish the release process. The goal is to produce a surprise release, which the archer does not anticipate. This prevents flinching, and promotes clean releases.

Longhorn

Scott Longhorn Pro Advantage

Because there is no trigger, a hinge release can be activated in a variety of ways. Some archers squeeze their shoulder blades together, which pulls their release hand backwards. Others slowly rotate their release hand backward. Still others relax their hand, which causes the release to rotate forward and fire.

Jesse Broadwater is one of the best professional archers in the world. Not only does he use a hinge release, but he helped TRU Ball design one called the Fulkrum.

We asked him a few questions about why and how he uses a hinge release.

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Jesse Broadwater

LAS: How long have you been competing with a hinge?

JB: I’ve used one since I started competing, so about 24 years now.

LAS: What release do you use?

JB: I use the TRU-Ball Fulkrum Flex 3 finger.

LAS: Does it have capability for a click? If so, do you use it?

JB: Yes to both.

LAS: Why do you use the click?

JB: I use the click for a consistent starting point. With anything other than a two-finger for me, when I start to draw, the release head comes off/away from the “stop” or zero position. So I lose my consistent starting point. That’s where the click helps me.

(When Jesse draws his bow, he hits his anchor point just as his release clicks. That’s the consistent starting point he’s talking about. From there, he finishes the shot process.)

LAS: How do you activate your release? Back tension? Relaxation? Rotation? Something else?

JB: I use somewhat of a relaxing technique. Having the release set properly is very important using this technique, because you want the release to fire without using much intended effort.

So when the release is set just right, and if I do my part – which is a let-it-happen technique – all I have to do is get back, relax into the click, let the aiming dot settle, and relax through the shot.

(The relaxation technique calls for archers to relax their hands as they aim. Jesse has said it should feel as though you are letting the release slip out of your fingers. As you do this, the release head will rotate and release the string.)

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Stan Black Pearl

STAN Black Pearl Heavy Metal

LAS: What is the benefit to your style of activation?

JB: I feel that it can be a more consistent style of activation. By using less tension, and muscle I feel you take out more variables in what can go wrong.

(As we mentioned, another popular method for activating a hinge release is to squeeze the shoulder blades together. Basically this requires increasing the tension in the muscles in your back, which is why hinge releases often are called “back tension” releases.

Jesse’s relaxation method does not require that increase in back tension.)

Tony

Tony Tazza follows through with his hinge release.

LAS: What benefit do you see to a hinge release over a thumb button or index finger release?

JB: I feel you can use the same techniques no matter what release you use. Learning the technique I use is best taught on a hinge, then you can apply it to any release you choose.

It was a goal of mine when developing the Fulkrum and Abyss signature series of releases from TRU-Ball, to have an identical pair of hinge style and button style releases. So whether you prefer a hinge or button, we had you covered with the exact same anchor point, feel and impact point.

(The Abyss is the thumb-trigger – aka button – version of the Fulkrum.)

LAS: What is the most common mistake you see archers making with a hinge?

JB: Not letting it happen – or rather, making it happen – too much tension in release hand, not relaxing enough, release in hand too deep and not having release set properly.

Here’s your basic guide to archery release aids

A good clean release.

It’s what happens when you correctly let go of the bowstring at full draw, allowing the energy stored in the limbs to be transferred to the arrow, which is propelled down range toward the spot where you’re aiming.

A clean release is something every archer strives for on every shot. Achieve it, and the bull’s-eyes will rip.

Whether you shoot a compound, recurve or longbow, there are many release aids that go between your hand and the bowstring, which can help you deliver that perfect shot.

Four basic classes of release aids are made for compound shooters – index finger, thumb trigger, back tension and resistance activated. For recurve and longbow archers, there are finger tabs and gloves.

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back-tension-release

Here’s your guide to understanding the different types. When making a final selection, it’s a good idea to try what you want before you buy.

INDEX FINGER RELEASE

As the name suggests, these are mechanical release aids triggered by your index finger. Basically all of these releases are attached to wrist straps. The strap aids in drawing the string by joining the muscles of your arm and hand. Index finger releases are very popular among bowhunters, since the release is connected to the archer at all times. You can’t lose it in the woods or drop it from a tree stand if you’re wearing it.

TruFire Edge2

Index finger releases connect to the string via one or two moving jaws that completely enclose the bowstring or D-loop, by an open hook or by a rope loop.

When you come to full draw with one of these releases, you want to curl the forefinger on your trigger hand around the trigger post. If you have to stretch your forefinger all the way out to reach the trigger, you’re going to have problems with punching the trigger. Shorten the release head to reduce the gap separating it from the wrist strap.

Don’t activate the trigger by squeezing your finger like you’re shooting a gun. Wrap that forefinger around the post, and then pull through the shot with your whole arm.

THUMB TRIGGER RELEASE

These releases are triggered by your thumb, obviously. Most are hand held, although some also can be attached to wrist straps to aid in drawing. They connect to the bowstring or D-loop either by enclosed jaw(s), an open hook or a rope loop.

Stan SX3

Lots of bowhunters use thumb trigger releases, and so do many target archers – especially 3-D competitors. Most thumb trigger releases can be used like a back tension release – the favorite among target archers – yet you still have the control of the release provided by a trigger.

HINGE RELEASE

The best archery shot with a mechanical release is one that surprises you. If you don’t know when the release is going to trigger, then you can’t anticipate it with a flinch. This is the shot hinge releases are designed to deliver.

Scott Focus

A hinge release is hand held, and has a pivoting head that connects to the string or D-loop by an open hook. The idea is, you hook the release to the string, come to full draw, and then slowly squeeze your shoulder blades together, which pulls your bow hand and trigger hand farther apart. At some point, that squeezing motion is going to cause the release to rotate in your hand until it lets go of the string.

Another method for activating a hinge is to come to full draw and relax your release hand. That relaxation will cause your hand to stretch, which will rotate the release, and it will fire. A hinge release doesn’t have a trigger. It is a trigger.

You have to keep your sight pin or scope locked on the target the whole time you’re squeezing/relaxing, because you don’t really know when the release will go off. Target archers love the hinges because of the surprise factor, but it might not be the best choice for bowhunters, who need a little more control over when an arrow is released.

 

RESISTANCE ACTIVATED RELEASE

Another hand-held release, this is a triggerless release used mainly by target archers. It’s activated by a build-up in pressure at full draw. That pressure, again, is created by squeezing your shoulder blades together.

Carter Evolution

You clip this release’s open hook, closed jaw or rope loop to the string or D-loop, and then draw with your thumb wrapped around a safety mechanism, which prevents the release from triggering. At full draw, you release the safety and start squeezing your shoulder blades until the release triggers.

FINGER TABS AND GLOVES

It’s not that recurve and longbow archers can’t shoot one of the mechanical release aids we’ve already discussed. Rather, the style of archery associated with these bows calls for drawing and releasing with your fingers, as opposed to a mechanical trigger. Also, mechanical releases are not allowed for recurves and longbows in competitions.

Using a tab, you draw the bowstring with your index, middle and ring fingers, and the tab sits between your fingers and the string. It allows for a more consistent release, since the string is sliding off a single surface, rather than each of your three fingers. Tab surfaces come in a variety of materials – bare leather, hair-covered leather, plastic, etc. It’s up to you to determine which works best for you.

Infitec Perfect

Tabs are designed to allow archers to shoot either with their index finger above the arrow nock and the two others below – that’s called split-finger shooting ‑ or with all three fingers below the nock.

Gloves are probably the simplest of the release aids. In a nutshell, they cover your three shooting fingers for protection against the string, and they provide a smooth surface for the string to glide across during the release. The gloves typically are made of leather or nylon.