Bowhunting is rarely easy. The archer has to locate their quarry, get within range and then make the shot under whatever circumstances exist. Those practicing this art embrace the challenge, but we don't want to set ourselves up for failure, either. Equipment that adapts to personal preference or helps overcome a difficult situation is a big plus. Tru-Fire's 360° Release is precisely that kind of gear. This review focuses on the "360 Buckle Foldback," short body design in camo colors.
Tru-Fire's 360 Buckle Foldback wrist release, MSRP $69.99.
Fond du Lac, Wisconsin based Tru-Fire (www.trufire.com ) was founded in 1984 by Lynn Tentler and his wife, Judi. The organization remains family owned and operated with son, Steve, and his wife, Cheri, now in charge. Release aids are the core of their business, and Steve estimates the company's market share at 40-50%. Tru-Fire products have always been American made. Components not manufactured on site come from suppliers in the area. This gives Tru-Fire an exceptional level of quality control, and they follow-up by brutally testing all release prototypes on custom machinery that applies 300 pounds of draw force over 18,000 cycles in 24 hours. Their products carry a lifetime guarantee, but less than .3% of the 5,000,000 Tru-Fire releases sold have been returned for warranty coverage. What all this means is reliability, pure and simple.
New for 2008, the 360 Release line of wrist strap release aides includes four models offering various features, the most significant being its' namesake characteristic: The caliper rotates all the way around the long axis of the trigger housing. This is a free floating movement, and there's no binding under load. Other manufacturers claim 360 degrees of rotation, but Tru-Fire points out that this occurs with the jaws at a fixed position relative to the trigger. Is it an important distinction? You'd better believe it. The 360 Release offers an exclusive parameter of adjustability the archer can utilize actively or passively.
360 degrees of rotation at the caliper accommodates a wide range of shooting styles.
On the practice range, archers frequently experiment with their technique to find out what works best for them. A dynamic link between the caliper and the firing mechanism means either hand position or trigger location may be modified, alone (more later on trigger orientation and adjustment). Would a back of the hand to cheek anchor be better than palm down with a thumb knuckle under the ear lobe? Just turn your hand and find out- nothing else had to be altered. The 360 Release provides a more broad range of options for anyone dissatisfied with their present shooting technique. If the user desires, a set screw opposite the trigger allows the caliper to be locked tightly into place.
The benefits of a rotating caliper become even more obvious in the field. Many a bowhunter has had to let-down or pass on a shot because an obstacle prevented them from getting into perfect shooting position. With a 'floating' caliper, the jaws remain aligned with the string / D-loop regardless of whether you tilt the bow or contort yourself to get a clean shot while wrapped around a tree limb or boulder. There's increased opportunity to make small changes without fundamentally altering your form, risking premature release or introducing the kind of torque that can lead to a nightmare shot. It all adds up to greater consistency and more game on the ground.
The trigger housing is located between the caliper and the release's length-adjustment mechanism. The latter is a simple screw drive protected by a rubber sleeve. It's connected to the firing mechanism by an O-ring covered knuckle-joint that further accommodates the archer who doesn't draw or hold in a straight line. Turning the trigger housing counter clockwise lengthens the release. Changes are detectable through a series of fine clicks. Clockwise turns shorten length. The range of adjustment is one inch. Now, since the trigger protrudes from a fixed port on the housing body, adjusting the length of the release alters the orientation of the trigger, allowing the shooter to fix the position of the trigger anywhere on a 360o scale.
Adjusting overall length is a simple matter of turning the trigger body.
Let's revisit the idea of experimenting with hand position and the back of the hand to the side of the face example. This style's common among archers using a 'T-handle' release. If this position were found effective, the archer's hand would be where they want it, and the 360o Release caliper would automatically align with the string or D-loop under the force of drawing the bow. Now, with the trigger housing connected to the length adjustment mechanism, the trigger can be dialed-in to wherever the shooter likes- even pointing straight down, for thumb activation.
Two "Elite" versions of the 360 offer adjustable trigger tension (4-26oz. of pressure) and trigger travel. Tension is changed by manipulating a dial on the trigger housing, no tools required. "Regular" versions have adjustable trigger travel only. Tension is 6 oz., but since trigger travel can be set as low as a few 100ths of an inch, the result is an impression of much lower tension. In fact, variable trigger tension was incorporated on the "Elite" models primary for those shooters who want a less sensitive firing mechanism.
Each 360 Release offers adjustable trigger travel. Tuning is by trial and error, best accomplished after thorough review of the Directions. It's not complicated, but a deliberate approach is necessary to minimize the possibility of premature release, and the factory literature is your best source of guidance.
Trigger travel adjustment is via a protected set screw.
The mechanics of the release are installed on the wrist strap with a bombproof metal ring that actually allows the mechanism to 'fold' at 180o to its' usable position. Ever foul a release stumbling into a pool of muck or crawling through thick cover on hands and knees? Bend the mechanism back over the strap and it stays out of the grime.
The "foldback" option allows the firing mechanism to be stowed under a shirt or jacket cuff.
Even the wrist strap shows Tru-Fire's attention to detail and commitment to durability. The metal ring is held in place by two double-stitched loops. A synthetic outer fabric on the strap is tough, and padding on the underside was comfortable at 85 pounds of peak draw force. The steel buckle cinches securely. Enamel finished in black, there's no game spooking glare here, and a plastic clip keeps the strap from flapping loosely.
A tab and a clip on the strap make it almost impossible for the release to inadvertantly fall off.
The wrist strap's rugged construction is comfortable to wear and nicely camo accented.
It's obvious the people who designed and manufacture the 360 Release have a passion for their work, right down to an elastic extension of the belt strap that's fitted with a soft, oversized plastic pull tab that makes it almost impossible for the release to inadvertently fall off once it's on. That's good. Experience how well it does its' job, and you may not want to take it off for a while.
Mike Kallal is a freelance outdoor writer and big game hunter living in northwest Colorado with his wife and daughter.