Is Back Tension Possible with an Index Finger Release?
Category : Miscellaneous
Reviewing the Carter Like Mike Release.
Index finger releases for compound bow hunters have been popular for many years now. There are some pretty obvious advantages to them, so it is easy to see why they are the choice of so many bowhunters. First, they are relatively simple to operate. They are also pretty convenient for hunting applications. Most index finger releases utilize some kind of wrist strap, be it a buckle or Velcro, and so they are always right where you need them when a deer walks into range. Many index finger releases are also offered at a great price point and that likely adds to their popularity. The other case for hunting with an index finger release is that, with the punch of the trigger, you can send off a shot at an animal in an instant, with no need to apply back tension and pull through your shot. While it’s probably not the most correct way to aim and shoot, it can be an efficient method to putting a deer on the ground when you have a small window of opportunity presenting itself.
Since purchasing my first compound bow at the age of 13, I’ve shot a good handful of index finger releases. All have been caliper style releases with either minor adjustability or none at all. My shot process went off without a hitch for many years and I shot accurately with these releases. It wasn’t until I found myself with more career and family responsibilities, and less time to practice and shoot my bow, that I began to realize that I was suffering from target panic; and the shot activation sequence I was using with these releases was exacerbating the problem. I began to evaluate my shooting and started to read as much as I could about target panic. Some of the information was helpful, some wasn’t. But, what I ultimately determined was that the light trigger on the release I was shooting was creating shot anticipation issues. When my finger would contact the trigger I would immediately want to pull because I expected it to go off at any moment due to the trigger sensitivity of the release I was using. So, I started to search for a release with a heavier trigger, one that I could better “load” for a smoother shot execution. Its important to mention that trying to utilize any concept of back tension with an index release wasn’t on my radar at this time; I simply wanted to be able to achieve a longer and slower trigger pull process.
Through the search for solutions, I adjusted the travel on the index finger release I was currently using so that it would require a longer trigger pull. When that didn’t work, I sought out a release with adjustable trigger tension. The pro shop I went to didn’t carry anything like what I was asking for and I was advised that I would need to start shooting a thumb trigger if I wanted an adjustable trigger tension feature. They also suggested a different index finger caliper release that seemed to have more trigger tension right out of the box, so I bought it and went home. For a few shooting sessions, the new release seemed to solve some of the problems I was having. The trigger did seemed to have a bit more tension, but there was still no adjustment for it, and unlike my old release, the travel on the new release was not adjustable. Looking back and evaluating the situation, my shots initially felt better because my brain wasn’t yet used to the ignition point of the new release, allowing for a bit more surprise in the release. Our brains learn quickly though, and given the large amount of travel in this release and the lack of trigger tension adjustability, I was soon finding myself back where I started.
After what ultimately culminated into several years of frustration, and at times confusion, I found what I consider to be one of the best (if not the best) index finger releases currently available to archers. The Carter Like Mike simultaneously changes the game and sets the standard to which all other index finger releases should be measured. Out of the box the release feels like a great, high quality tool that can withstand use and abuse for a lifetime. In fact, I fully expect my son to use this release when he starts shooting archery. The adjustability of this release is like nothing I have encountered from the numerous index finger releases I have shot with in the past. The tension can be adjusted from 0-5 pounds and the crispness with which the trigger engages is like that of a high end rifle. Likewise, the trigger travel can be adjusted to the shooters preference. My personal preference is little to no travel. I found that the travel in the index finger release I shot before the Like Mike was adding to my target panic. Although I could “set the hook” on that release, it was incredibly hard to load the trigger and apply back tension in order to pull through the shot without actually moving my index finger through the trigger mechanism. The amount of movement that would be needed to engage the trigger without moving my finger was just not achievable through a proper expansion movement, and partially engaging the trigger to remove some of the travel just created the same hair-trigger affect I was trying to get away from in the first place.
The Carter Like Mike solved all of these problems. I was able to set the trigger tension very high. In fact, to begin with, I set it higher than I expect to keep it, and did so in order to force myself to work on my form and shot concentration. At the same time the travel is very minimal; the release is basically adjusted for enough travel to allow for the bow to be drawn back without the trigger releasing. This minimal amount of trigger travel allows me to utilize some of the principles of back tension in conjunction with an index finger release, something that is extremely hard to accomplish with the index finger releases that are lacking the adjustability of the Like Mike.
The Like Mike comes with a Scott brand buckle strap and the release head is attached via a webbing strap. Full adjustability is achieved by moving the webbing connection within the metal bracket, which is then tightened with two small Allen bolts. Some people may find that they want a more padded wrist strap, and there are several good options that are compatible with the Like Mike if one searches for replacement release straps for a few minutes on Google. I personally appreciate the simplicity and lack of bulk the Scott wrist strap offers, as it will fit nicely under the cuff of my hunting coat this Fall.
To sum it up, the Carter Like Mike is a class leader. It is a tool that will allow bowhunters who are dealing with target panic symptoms to more easily regain control of their shot process and return to a place of consistent and accurate shooting. In that sense, it can be a game changer for those who choose to make an investment into one of the most important pieces of bowhunting equipment they will purchase. The benefits of a Carter Like Mike release are profound enough that, after shooting it, I believe that most bowhunters would find themselves to be more accurate and proficient with the combination of this release and a lower-end bow than they would be when shooting a flagship bow with an economy release aid.