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.
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.
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.
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.)
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.)
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.