UPDATED ON: December 30th, 2015
More and more bowhunters have begun adding a string loop to the bowstring. The reason is simple – the combination of a string loop and quality release aid it is the most accurate way you can shoot an arrow.
Tying a loop is fairly simple, something you can either do yourself or have your pro shop do for you in conjunction with helping you get your bow ready for the upcoming season. After that, it is a matter of selecting a release aid to mate with your loop.
There are three basic release aid models that work well with the string loop – the dual jaw caliper, single-jaw caliper, and a single caliper designed expressly for the release. Each has plusses and minuses.
The dual jaw caliper release is the most popular design sold today, used by both string loopers and those who use a standard nock set and attach the release directly to the bowstring. This release has two movable jaws that open and close simultaneously. There are many different makes and models to choose from.
The single-jaw caliper release is also very popular. This release features one movable jaw, and one stationary jaw. The theory is that with only one moving jaw, it is easier to get a very consistent release shot to shot than when using a release with two movable jaws.
The special string loop release aids are essentially a single-jaw caliper release. The difference between them and a standard single-jaw release is that instead of the two jaws coming together and touching when the release is closed around the string loop, there is a small open space once the release has been attached to the loop. The advantage of this is that the release can be attached or removed from the string loop without activating the release aid itself. With a little practice, it is also easy to attach the release to the loop without looking at it – a feature that can be very nice when you’re in a tree stand as deer approach that you do not want to take your eyes off, even for a second or two.
Choosing which release make, model and style you use is an individual thing. All these styles get the job done. It’s like the old question one man asks another: “Which do you prefer, blondes, brunettes, or redheads?” Of course, the answer is “Yes!” One deer hunter has tried all three release aid styles, but has seemed to gravitate back to the traditional dual jaw caliper for many years because it works well for him.
More important is setting the bow up properly, and this is where the pro shop can help you. If you simply tie a string loop onto the bow without giving any consideration to the type of release aid you’ll be using, bad things can happen.
How so? Many shooters have a string loop that is just too long. Essentially, a string loop shortens your draw length because the release is not attached to the bowstring itself, but at a point slightly behind the string. This will knock up to one-half inch off your draw length, something that doesn’t seem like a lot but takes a bit off your power stroke, which will cost you some raw arrow speed.
Also, if the loop is too large you run the risk of not being able to anchor properly because you’ll have to pull your shoulder, arm and hand farther behind your jaw or ear (or whatever anchor point you use) than you would normally do. This can wreak havoc with your shooting form, which in turn can adversely affect accuracy. On the other hand, if the loop is tied too short, it is possible that your release aid jaws will not be able to be easily inserted into the loop itself.
At the same time, if your release aid has a wrist strap – as the vast majority used by bowhunters have – you must make sure the strap is adjustable. Being able to lengthen or shorten the wrist strap will enable you to precisely establish the proper length, which will then permit you to anchor properly.
It is also important that your release aid have an easily-adjustable trigger. While there are two schools of thought on how the trigger is best activated – either by squeezing it like a rifle trigger, or flexing your back muscles while the index finger is on the trigger, with the subsequent pressure setting the trigger of as a “surprise” to you – you need to be able to adjust the trigger pull until it is at a pressure with which your are comfortable. Most release aids come with their triggers set a bit stiff so some hunters might want to take a little pressure off them.
If you have not tried some of the latest release aid makes and models in a few years, it is highly recommended that you head down to your pro shop and check them out. Bring your bow so you can shoot them with your own string loop and see how the combination works for you. Even if you do not choose to buy a new release, its more than likely you’ll find that you need to adjust your release/string loop combination a smidgen until it more perfectly fits your body size and shooting style.
There is no downside in that.