Rob Jones explains what dead and active release means from the perspective of a traditional archer
Q. At the weekend I was at a shoot and heard people talking about a dead release and an active one. What’s the difference between the two?
A. You could write loads on this topic as to which is best and why, but I’m going to try and keep this short and from the perspective of a traditional archer. To put it simply, it is a difference in how you release the string off your fingers and what your hand is doing when loosing the arrow.
I shoot an American flatbow or recurve off the fingers and have worked on improving my release. In a dead release you draw up, reach your anchor point, settle yourself and then unfurl or relax your fingers. As you do this you are letting the string slide off your tab or glove. Effectively your hand is static to your anchor point and it is only your fingers that unfurl, letting the string move. A lot of new archers shoot with a dead release as they focus on ensuring that they have a good anchor and then relax their fingers to release the string.
In an active release, as your fingers uncurl to release the string your hand moves backwards from your anchor point as the string moves forwards. So your hand moves back from your anchor point as you release the arrow. It’s a bit harder to master as it is easy to accidentally draw the string further back as you start to release the string.
One way to think of it is in a dead release the string moves from the fingers as you release it, in an active release the fingers move back from the string as you release the arrow.
Hope that makes sense!