Thumb Release Execution Methods

While I have a lot of dedicated hinge release information here on my blog and also on my YouTube channel, I realized I hadn’t posted any dedicated thumb release information. That changes today! I’m going to give you 7!!, ways to execute a shot with a button release, and not only am I going to just give you that information, I am going to tell you which method works best with certain shot types to allow you to choose the right one for you!

The first method is a straight pull backwards of the release arm. This method works very well for an archer with a dynamic shot. (Meaning a push/pull or active shot) This is also a very good method to use to battle Target Panic and to teach you discipline on Aiming and being patient. You want to focus on pulling straight rearwards with the release arm wrist as your focal point. No pulling the elbow from right to left (right handed shooter) and rotating the shoulder on a horizontal axis. This will pull you off target and can also pull the release hand away from the face. The reason using the wrist is a better focal point, is because you can direct the wrist along the straight path through the forearm into the elbow.

The second method is creating a focus, and pivot point, within the hand. This is helpful for shooters who either have an active shot or a stagnant shot. For the first example let’s use the thumb as your focal point. What you will want to do is anchor, set the thumb onto the button, and then as you execute the shot focus on allowing the pressure of the release pushing back into the fingers to be transferred to the thumb. This sounds at first like a difficult method to do, but it’s a lot simpler than you’d think. By taking your mental focus and applying it to only the thumb and the pressures felt against it, your brain will naturally relax the fingers because you are no longer focused on holding the release with the fingers as much as you are holding it with your thumb. This starts a natural increase of the release pushing against the thumb pad and, BAM the shot fires.

The third method is the same as the previous, with the exception of where the focal point is located. For some archers, it is easier to direct attention to a load bearing finger. For this method, you want to use the outside finger on the release, whether that be your middle, ring, or pinkie finger.(Based of how many fingers the release is. Always use the outside most finger) In the same concept as before, you are focusing on feeling the release press against that finger and your brain will naturally relax the others and this will rotate the button of the release into the thumb pad to fire the shot.

On our fourth method, we’re going to combine the last two together. The difference here though is that this method requires an active and dynamic shot. What I’ve found for a shooter without an active target panic situation, or a tendency to revert to one, is that by combining a pull through the shot with a method of hand manipulation, you can create less needed movement and a cleaner overall shot. In this method what you will do is focus on bringing both the thumb and outside finger together in your palm, just the same as if you were going to pinch the tips of those fingers together without a release in your hand. Combining this motion, with a slow pull, will trip the release much easier and allow the follow through to be a natural, straight rearward one. This will help you with your left and rights on target.

For my fifth method of firing a thumb button, I am going to explain a shot type that will help shooters that need less mental work and more physical work. This method can be used for any shot type, but again works best with a slight pull combined into it. A big tendency with thumb button shooters is to depress the thumb into the trigger, just like you would with an index/wrist strap release using the fore finger to depress the trigger. The problem most shooters will find by doing this though is wanting to quickly start snapping at the button when they perceive their shot to be in the center of the target. A corrective action to this is to use the outside fingers as the ones you work, while leaving the thumb stagnant. This will develop naturally the discipline you need to aim at the target (Aiming Article Here) while executing your shot and not having snaps. What you will do here is a slow curl of the outside fingers, meaning the fingers to the right of the neck of the release. The curling motion rotates the release and drives the button into the thumb, depressing it to activate the shot.

On my last two methods, I am switching gears from active to passive on the release hand. For some archers building pressure in the hand or fingers results in snapping and flinching, so for this we need to combat that with a relaxation of the hand or fingers. My sixth method relies on a relaxation of the index finger. This method works very well when set up correctly and can be used with both a dynamic shot or a stagnant shot (Amendment: works best with a dynamic shot to take up the slack caused by extension on the joints/hand as relaxation occurs. Thanks for the catch Dan Jasa!). What you do on the draw of the bow and anchor is what makes this shot work. You will use primarily the index finger as your drawing source, although you still want some pressure in the outside fingers. This rotates the outside of the release forward and gives you the pre-load of added movement needed for later. Once at anchor, you will bring the thumb over to the button, and as you settle into the shot and begin your execution, you’ll begin relaxing the index finger and letting the tension of holding the release bleed over into the outside fingers. This rotates the release and drives the button into the thumb.

To continue with the relaxing trend on my seventh and final method, we have relaxing the hand at the base knuckles. This method was made famous by GRIV, but I want to explain how to use it most effectively through my own findings as well. This method again requires you to set up correctly on the draw to have positive results. The difference here from my sixth method, is that you can use the benefit of a thumb button allowing you to draw back the bow with all of your fingers that are on the release. With this method, how you set the hand and draw is what matters the most. You will want to create an upside down “V” with the hand where the base knuckles are the pivot point. This means curling the fingers on the release around the handle and finger beds and focusing the pressure on the center area of the fingers, between the second and third knuckles. You’ll want this to have a flat feeling on the fingers against the release. This flat surface area is important because you need a straight back pull so there is no torque applied to the release. Once at full draw and anchor with the hand in a “V”, you will allow the hand to pivot at the base knuckles and elongate/extend. This, combined with the natural design and structure of the hand, rotates the button into the thumb, allowing the release to trip and fire.

Well, there you have it! SEVEN methods to execute your shot with a thumb release! Each has its own pluses and minuses, so along the way if you notice problem areas don’t be afraid to reference back to this article and switch up your method!

Here is a video I did to give a visual support to this article. There’s also an explanation of how the lifeline of the hand works with these methods as well.

Tuesday’s Tip of The Week #16 Thumb Release Execution Methods


5 thoughts on “Thumb Release Execution Methods

  1. Bill

    Robert I have a Carter too simple and I’m looking to buy a hinge style release one that I won’t have to change my draw length I try the Carter honey and it didn’t work for me do you have any suggestions

  2. Craig

    Hello Robert. Ive been using a 2 finger truball ht for a while now and the way I use it is by relaxing my hand naturally with a bit of tension in my back so i don’t creep forward and it works well for me. My problem is that when I’m under pressure i like drawing a thumb button over a hinge release but for the life of me i can’t get it to work with the same relaxing method. I’m making great shots with the thumb button but feel like I’m squeezing it with my thumb and fingers together which i feel like is the wrong way to do it. My question is which method does John Dudley use? He says to pull you elbow straight back to an object behind you and he makes it look so simple and consistent. Is he letting his fingers stretch or rotating it or maybe using one of the other methods you mentioned? I hope this makes sense and by the way I feel like in the three years I’ve been watching archery vids on you tube I thing yours now are the best ones out there.

    1. rcrchery Inc. Post author

      Craig, thanks for the message and compliment on my videos! I’m glad they’re the best! Send me an email at I have a video link I can put in so you can see John using a release from some different angles. You may have seen it before, but I can at least tell you what I see and think. It’s speculation unfortunately, since I’ve never heard him mention anything but pulling but I have an idea what might can help from hearing him talk through it and my own experiences.


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