My first ever back tension release was a Stan BlackJack. I loved the release but it was just slightly too narrow on my fingers, and in the end I let it go and switched to a Scott Exxus thumb release which was a bit chunkier, and fit my big hands well.
Right now, however, I think I might have found a surprise of a trigger!
Earlier in 2014 Stanislawski released their JustX range of triggers. These are thumb releases, and just like Scott with their BackSpin, I got the idea that they were trying for something unique without becoming quirky and I do think they succeeded. Essentially, they took what they know works, and made minor changes to the release while refusing to compromise on the basics (like the ErgoFit design principle – making it easier to shoot different Stanislawski Releases)
The JustX is released in 8 different versions. Two designs in four sizes each. The four finger version curls around nicely around your pinky but the three finger version is the one I liked most. It has a flat spot against which your pinky leans. I have found that it is just enough of a grip on that little finger that it helps in a really smooth “surprise” release… but more about that later.
Three finger versions:
JustXstatic (large) – this review
Four finger versions:
The idea is that you can fit the release to your hand as close as possible but also use a larger unit to shoot with gloves if you like/need to shoot cold weather. Good thinking there…
What is the actual difference in sizes? Well a “Large” is about 10% bigger than a “Medium”
Draw Length Long: 26mm
Draw Length Straight: 26mm
About the release
One of the basic features about the release is that it includes the ability to attach a lanyard to the release (another one of those handy “cold weather” features!) and apart from the ability to adjust trigger tension, that’s about it for basic…
Like most Stan releases, it comes with with the locking screw that allows you to train with the release without letting it open the seer and releasing the arrow. Great for getting a feel of the tension and seat in the hand before you actually release an arrow for the first time!
But let’s move on to the funky stuff…
You can use the locking mechanism in two variations. With or without a nose piece. I am not sure what the actual advantage of removing the nose piece would be, but people brighter than me, that would want that as a feature, now have it! The unit comes with a shorter screw to replace the one that attaches the nose piece to the release (you have to swop them out) and it’s a fairly simple operation that has no impact on any of your other settings.
And now, the “piece de resistance” – the Zero Travel trigger mechanism.
It is very important to note that you NEED to set the travel of the thumb trigger to zero to get the true value from this release. Anything past zero and it will feel like the heaviest trigger in the world, but once it’s set, you have the closest thing to a zero movement back tension trigger I have come across so far. True, this release will not fire in a hair trigger mode, but once you get the feel for it, it’s bloody marvelous!
This is the important part. One release is pretty much the same as the next. Once quality is established and budget has been decided, you pick releases on comfort and how it feels in the hand. Some like small and fine, some like heavy and chunky, and to each his own – there is no right or wrong, only “right for you” (most probably why so many different releases exist and why Stan made 8 versions of this one release.
But this one isn’t …
I have mentioned this, but it is the closest to a “surprise” release I have ever felt on a thumb release. Let me attempt to explain by saying, there is no travel on the release, so you don’t get that feeling of “trigger has traveled, about to release, about to release… And off!” It’s just not there!
So how does it release? Well… Technically, just like a thumb trigger…
Once you’ve set your release and gone into full draw, place your pinky against the furthest edge of the release and your thumb on the finger guard (so the trigger rests in the fold where your thumb meets your hand) Now, just like with a back tension or hinge release, keep aiming on the spot, but instead of pulling, or releasing or building muscle tension, simply slowly put tension on your pinky. This automagically puts tension on your thumb muscles and has the exact same effect as of you closing your hand.
Now, this is pretty much how I shoot my thumb release right now, but because there is literally no travel, when the shot goes off, it’s a complete surprise! (ok, I suppose there must be some kind of travel, but bugger me if I can feel it!) You just don’t feel any kind of movement in the release during the shot, and because it’s a squeeze instead of a release or pulling motion, it harder to pull a shot of the X (releasing while aiming skew is your own problem, however!)
Let me put it this way… I tried shooting it out of the box, did ok (few nines, an 8 or two) and didn’t like it. Then I read the manual, adjusted the Zero Travel and tension as suggested and went back outside. Shot 6 X’s in a row.
Now, shooting the 6 X’s shouldn’t really be a measurement because there are other factors involved (heck, maybe I just concentrated more because I didn’t want to shorten an arrow against my target wall!) and this is not a magical release, the one release to rule them all! But what was important to me is that every single one of those shots felt great! It felt like my back tension while on my best form, like the arrow goes where I was looking, no need to aim, no need to release, it just goes when the X was acquired! It felt good!
Off course I shot a bunch of nines… I am not a hooter shooter! But one thing is for sure, if you want a thumb release that is difficult to punch and if you are looking for that feeling of a “surprise release” then this is the release for you!
Don’t get me wrong… you CAN punch this release, but it’s going to punish you when you do.. it’s just not made for “drive-by” shooters. Treat it as it was designed and you will love it!
All text and images ©Sean Nel
Thank you to Archer’s Edge for supplying me with this release to test. If you want more information on this, or any of the Stanislawski releases, please do not hesitate to contact them!