Today’s world is filled with all sorts of gimmicks that vary from food choppers to belly fat trimmers. When I first saw the RIPshot, my first inclination was that if Billy Mays were still alive, he’d have an infomercial for this in a heartbeat. You would soon be able to buy the RIPshot off of late night TV for $19.95 (with second one free!) plus shipping and handling. Don’t get me wrong, I love gimmicks as much as the little old lady who orders everything she sees on TV. But nonetheless, gimmicks are gimmicks and don’t go much beyond that. In the end, I was wrong; the RIPshot isn’t a gimmick, it’s actually a very nice release aid and training accessory.
Construction and fit:
The RIPshot arrived and I was eager to see exactly how this funky looking thing functioned. Each RIPshot comes packaged with the main unit, a kit for attaching most style of wrist style resleases, a magnetic wrist strap for holding the release when not in use, and a DVD describing how to setup and use the RIPshot.
The RIPshot’s main structure is an aluminum frame lined with a foam padding. The frame is easily bent into the shape that fits the individual archer’s arm. Straps on the upper arm are rugged , large and easily adjusted. For the lower arm around the elbow, there is a smaller strap that has a pad attached.
It took about twenty minutes to get the straps fitting right and the release head attached properly while watching the DVD. After mulling over my pile of releases, the head I went with is a Jim Fletcher Flathead. The Flathead is probably one of the most underrated releases and one of my personal favorites. I picked it because the trigger is close to the jaws and compliments the fit of the Ripshot well.
Previous to receiving the RIPshot I had talked to Nat (inventor of the RIPshot) on the phone and discussed the background behind the RIPshot. He had originally designed it to help archers that have wrist/arm/shoulder injuries. While the RIPshot certainly accomplishes this, Nat found that it helped perfectly healthy archers as well by helping them transfer the bulk of the tension to the back muscles.
After feeling comfortable with the fit and yanking on the releasing with a good deal of force to give me some inner peace that it was going to stay in place, I pulled out my trusty Ultra Elite and went to work.
Executing the shot:
The first few shots with the RIPshot were awkward and tentative because I wasn’t sure how my muscles would react. After about the fifth shot I began to settle in and get the hang of the draw, hold and shot. The next twenty or so shots were used making slight adjustments to my shooting technique and experimenting with the feel of the RIPshot.
Without the RIPshot my shot sequence consists of pulling the bow up on target, completely relaxing all my muscles, putting slight tension on the string and setting my back muscles, drawing the bow and settling into my shooting position. Drawing the bow first engages my forearm muscles, then the bicep/triceps, then transfers the majority of the holding weight to my back muscles. Most of the time I shoot with a t-handle thumb release using back tension. I bury the trigger hard into the joint of my thumb and by squeezing my back muscles together it rolls the trigger into my thumb and sets off. It took years of practice and a lot of mental awareness to get the right sequence down. I am far from perfect, but this last year I have felt I have make good strides and improvement. When using a wrist release and triggering with a finger, I rest the first knuckle of my index finger on the trigger with just enough tension not to fire it. I then pull through with my back muscles and drag the index finger further into the trigger, setting it off.
With the RIPshot, my shot sequence remains the same, with the exception of the way my muscles engage on the draw. The forearm is completely removed from the sequence and there is notably less tension in the biceps/triceps. All of the draw weight is placed on the back of the triceps where the RIPshot frame rests, but more of the muscle tension is in the larger back muscles. Because I could not use my t-handle releases with the RIPshot I went to my less used technique with the wrist release. I found it very easy to adapt to the feel of the RIPshot and execute the shot in the same manner as described above.
The real advantage to the RIPshot for me was that I did not consciously have to transfer the holding weight of the bow through the sets of the arm muscles to the back muscles. Because of the nature of the RIPshot, some tension starts with the upper arm muscles but quickly moves to the back muscles. While I am not constantly thinking of how my muscles are reacting, there are minor conscious and subconscious mental checks happening during the draw sequence. The RIPshot helps to minimize this and focus more on the target. Also, with a traditional shot at times I will have to let down because I don’t engage the muscles properly and it is nearly impossible for me to adjust at full draw. I have yet to experience this when shooting the Ripshot.
After the initially messing around and adjustment shots, I shot a standard NFAA 300 round on a five spot target. I ended up with a 300 46x; about average for me when I’m shooting well. For the first official score while using a totally new release system I was impressed. The following days saw similar scores and I definitely noticed that I was more relaxed on the draw and focusing more on the target. This is a definite plus for me because my mind tends to go several different directions at the same time and concentrating on the shot takes significant effort and focus. The RIPshot has benefited me by eliminating part of the worries of the shot sequence.
One issue that I have struggled with ever since I began shooting is a slight twitch in the nerves in my wrist. Normally I will feel the twitch and let down the draw, usually one in thirty shots or so. However, twice the twitch has been severe enough to cause my fingers to let go of my t-handle release. Once was at an outdoor range where I was alone, the other time was during indoor leagues and was rather embarrassing as my release flew across the shooting lanes! When this happens with a wrist release it usually causes the release to go off and the arrow to hit 1-3 feet low. With the RIPshot I have had none of the sensation of twitching or anything and I believe it has to do with the tension being taken off of my wrist. I absolutely love my Carter t-handle releases, but the mental effect of knowing a twitch is lurking, just waiting to mess up a critical shot, does have an effect on me. I don’t know if the RIPshot is the full cure for this, but time will tell and it certainly has possibilities.
Another advantage of the RIPshot not mentioned yet is the ability to hold a bow back for much longer times. Just for a quick experiment I attempted to hold the bow back, move my forearm all over while keeping the elbow steady and see now long I could keep it up. It was a long time! I have had hunting situations where I had to hold at full draw for what seemed like an eternity and the Ripshot would easily extend the time I could comfortably hold back. I could even conceivably see grabbing and using my range finder (on a zip line tied to my right shoulder) or a cow call while being at full draw.
Is the RIPshot the end-all be-all release solution for every archer? No, unfortunately no single item will cure everything and let you give the Reo Wilde’s of the world a run for their money. It is however an ingenious device that can help archers learn to use their back muscles more effectively and also help those with wrist, arm or shoulder injuries.
I will continue to use the RIPshot along with my other releases. I’ve always been a big fan of using a variety of release to mix things up and keep from ingraining bad habits with one specific type. How much I’ll use it cannot say yet, but it will be a significant amount and certainly more than I had intended before using it.
The only issue I had with getting the fit right is the elbow strap. It tends to flip over when I wear a long sleeve shirt while shooting and had to be fixed every now and then. Perhaps I need to play with the length to get it to stay put better. Nat also informed me that he has a few improvements in mind for future versions.
Look for an update on my experiences with the RIPshot in the coming months to see if and how it helps with my shooting and scores in the long run.
How much and where to Buy
A list of dealers can be found on the RIP Archery homepage where the RIPshot can be purchased for MSRP of $89. If there is no dealer in your area, you can purchase one through the RIP Archery directly for $99, though they encourage purchasing at local dealers.
Other posts you may enjoy:
- RIPshot review complete: gimmick or real deal?
- 300 days to 300 – Day 28 update
- 300 days to 300 – Day 7 update
- Book Review: Core Archery by Larry Wise
- Ripshot, F.A.S.T and warm(er) weather