Honing and perfecting the recurve release requires hours of training on the range.
No shortcuts will help you achieve the perfect recurve release, but let’s discuss some tips and my insights into the “deep hook,” the technique that built my reputation. An ideal release is repeatable and relaxed. Relaxed shots are much easier to replicate than shots requiring exact amounts of unnatural tension.
Mastering the recurve release starts with good alignment and as little tension as possible through the wrist. Every archer approaches that differently, but I strive to align my wrist directly behind the arrow after hooking my fingers onto the bowstring.
Some archers say they must flex their forearm to achieve exact alignment, but it’s possible to perform that motion with little forearm tension. By keeping your wrist relaxed during the process, you properly use your back through the shot. That also minimizes the tendency to squeeze through the clicker with your fingers or flex your hand inward from the wrist.
The next step is to efficiently hook onto the bowstring with your fingers, which means using minimal effort for the hook while keeping your hand as relaxed as possible. That’s best achieved with a deep hook, with the bowstring sitting on the flat part of the finger past the first knuckle (the middle phalanx). The deep hook creates less work for your main knuckle, thus requiring less effort to hold the string. Yes, more of your finger must now clear the bowstring upon release, but your hook will be more relaxed; in turn, your fingers will be more relaxed and more easily pushed away by the string upon release.
Once you figure out how to hook the string, various exercises will help you develop a more relaxed release without shooting a bow at full poundage. One helpful exercise involves shooting a low-poundage stretch band. You might find you’re trying to open your fingers instead of relaxing your fingers to let them open naturally. I’ve found that this exercise forces me to control my fingers, and makes me relax so that the band pushes my fingers open.
Once you conquer the stretch band, pick up a low-poundage bow and try shooting consistent groups while feeling your relaxed fingers slipping off the string. Shooting a higher-poundage bow – or even your normal poundage – might not reveal the small inconsistencies in your release.
After you work on relaxing your fingers off the bowstring, try keeping your string hand close to your neck during your follow-through. That’s a vital part of mastering the recurve release. It guarantees the path your fingers take off the string will remain the same after each shot and a good place for your string fingers to end up is directly behind your ear. If your follow-through takes your hand to random points away from your neck, you’ll endure frustrating inconsistencies because your arrows won’t group well.
Ultimately, your release must be consistent and it must be your own. What works for some archers might not work for others and you must find what works best for you. After all, you must be able to execute your release in high-stress situations with little deviation.