I’m very open about the fact that I love virtually every product John Dudley puts out. Even when I’ve been skeptical about the application of some products I typically find their value soon after trying them. Dudley’s releases are his signature product and I own the full set. The first question I almost always get is “which one is your favorite?” and I honestly can’t say. Each release has a different method of operation and through their distinct mechanisms reveal different shortcomings and breakdowns in one’s form. I owe each of these releases with improving different aspects of my shot and making me a better all-around archer. I would recommend any of these releases but also recognize that they aren’t the cheapest. Running around $200 each most people aren’t going to order all three in a single run. But what I hope will come from this article is that my experience as a consumer and lessons learned will help someone looking to make their first Nock On release purchase. Personally I have found I have a preferred application for each and that is what this article is going to focus on. I won’t go into detail about how these releases operate or the proper shooting form for each because honestly Dudley has put out more and better content about this then I ever could try so head over to the Nock On TV YouTube channel for those in depth tutorials.
This has been my experience;
The Nock 2 It – Know Your Limits
This little two finger trigger release is extremely responsive and has helped me learn to call my shots more than any other. If I punch the trigger I can expect a low left hit. If I pull through a surprise shot it’s evidenced in a smooth and effortless follow through. Most importantly the Nock 2 It has taught me about my own limits when it comes to target panic and what environments make me more susceptible to it. I find that I can consistently stack arrows out to 50 yards but push it to 60 and beyond and my groups go from Snapple caps to pie plates. It is that drastic.
As far as I can tell what causes this for me is that 60 yards is typically when my pin float rivals the size of my target. My first few shots will usually be money but what eventually creeps in is a bit of panic and I eventually get punchy. When this happens I know it’s time to switch back to either the Silverback or 2 Smooth which I will get into more in a minute. I am using the other Nock on release to train through this 60 yard mental block but for the time being I consider my max effective hunting range 50 yards depending on the animal I am shooting at. Knowing your limits is important to being an ethical and effective archer and understanding mine has helped me put a cap on the distance I let arrows fly and stopped me from taking shots that likely would have resulted in wounded animals.
That being said the Nock 2 It is still my go to hunting release. I love that I can just clip it on my D loop while in the stand or on a stalk and it will be there for when it’s go time. The thumb button which fosters my target panic also gives me the ability to force a shot when I’m hunting in thick timber and a rutting buck chases a doe to within 20 yards. At that distance even a bad punch will land an arrow in the golden triangle.
The 2 Smooth – Target Panic Relax and be Smooth
The 2 Smooth is my current hinge release of choice. I’ve written a previous article about my experience with hinge releases titled “Off the Hinge” so feel free to head on over there for a more detailed description of the advantages of these releases but in short this is my anti target panic release. The 2 Smooth and hinge releases like it foster a smooth and consistent draw cycle simply because if you mess up on your draw the release will fire early and you will punch yourself right in the mouth. It happens to the best of us but you certainly learn from this experience. For this reason I also recommend training with an old bow grip and some D loop or a Right Release (available on the Nock On website) before trying with an actual bow.
This release is probably my favorite. I find my left and rights are most consistent with it and my groups out to distance (80 yds+) are significantly tighter. I would use this release for hunting were it not for the fact that my current hunting rig is 80lbs and my index finger simply isn’t strong enough to pull that poundage. I also don’t trust myself to maintain a smooth draw and now punch myself in the face when buck fever hits and I am 20ft up in a tree. That being said if I were going to Vegas or the Total Archery Challenge tomorrow you could bet I would immediately lower my poundage to 60-65 lbs and that the 2 Smooth would be riding in my release pouch.
I think part of the reason I love this release so much is that once you are at full draw it forces you to relax in order to execute your shot. Unlike the Nock 2 It or Silverback which are tension activated and as their name implies requires a build up of tension to fire, the 2 Smooth operates off a hinge which requires that you relax your index finger while pulling through your shot. I find this relaxation more conducive to my ability to focus on my pin float and allow for a surprise shot vs. the Nock 2 It or Silverback where I find my mind focusing more on pulling through and anticipating the shot as I attempt to get the releases to fire.
The Silverback – Consistency is Key
Probably the most talked about of the Nock On releases, the Silverback is a tension activated release and the favorite of famous Nock On students like Andy Stumpf, Joe Rogan, Jon Barklow, and Shane Dorian. As “tension activated” implies, the hook of the release is dependent on an internal spring set to a poundage just above the bow’s holding weight when at full draw. The release fires when the archer comes to full draw, lets off the release’s safety, and continues to pull through beyond the point where their cable or limb stops bottom out. By continuing to pull through the “wall”, as this point is referred to, the archer builds the tension felt by the release thus causing this internal spring to compress until the felt weight is greater than the set holding weight thus causing the hook to release and bow to fire.
There is no trigger so there is nothing to punch. Instead the release forces you to simply pull “through” your shot. When executed properly and consistently the Silverback virtually guarantees a surprise shot which will also result in a picture perfect release and follow through. And this is what I’ve learned most from the Silverback so far, consistency and follow through.
What the 2 Smooth did for my draw cycle the Silerback has done for my follow through. Because the Silverback connected to your D loop via a hook, the amount of pressure it takes to fire the release will vary depending on the angle of the hook on your loop. Change your hand tension, the angle of your rear elbow, or even what muscles you use to pull and the Silverback will feel noticeably different and will either feel impossibly heavy to fire or surprise you a bit too quickly. This forces you to be consistent each and every shot.
The Silverback is the most recent addition to my Nock On collection. I bought this release to help me get over my long range target panic. The fact that the Silverback has a safety and can be pulled back with 3 fingers instead of one means I can use it with my hunting rigs, which I cannot say about my 2 Smooth. I’m still getting used to the Silverback but I’m noticing that my shots seem most effortless when I keep my release elbow back and focus on dragging the release along my jaw line. After reviewing some old footage of me shooting I noticed my elbow position and follow through have always lacked consistency so it makes sense that the Silverback which is dependent on these factors would reveal these deficiencies.
The Silverback is quickly becoming my go-to training release. When I find myself getting punchy with my Nock 2 It I always go back to my Silverback for several reps and this seems to clean things up. I would say that my current usage at the moment is 80% Silverback 20% Nock 2 It. I haven’t the Silverback on a hunt yet but I can definitely see some scenarios where it would have advantages over my Nock 2 It. For one it doesn’t have a trigger which means I can eliminate “don’t punch the trigger” from my mental check list. The fact that the Silverback simply hooks onto your D loop rather than locking onto it keeps me from using it in a tree stand or hunts where I may need to fire a quick shot. But I’m really looking forward to taking the Silverback on some hog hunts this year where I’ll either be in a stand over bait or hunting spot & stalk in open fields.
So there you have it. Keep in mind that these are just my personal preferences and experiences. Any of these releases could be utilized in any discipline discipline of compound archery depending on your level of skill. Nock On releases can only be purchased through the Nock On website which I will provide a link to as well. They tend to sell out fast so be sure to sign up for email notifications if you are looking to buy.
For a breakdown of these releases from the Jedi Master himself check out the below video and the Nock On TV YouTube channel.
"Nock On everybody" ;)
- - aj