I’ve shot my Mathews Q2XL with fingers for the past 15+ years.
36 inch ATA.
Best of Luck, Jeff
One thing I found many years ago, when release shooters began beating me regularly at local shoots, was that the newer and faster compounds were too short ATA to shoot with the traditional style of split three-finger release. The more acute string angles make finger pinch a major factor.
I read somewhere about another finger shooter using modified release technique to shoot compounds with fingers. He pulled through the breakover with all three fingers as usual, then let the top and bottom fingers slide off the string as he got to full draw, holding the remaining draw weight with his middle finger alone.
That does a number of things, mostly all good.
It makes the bow MUCH less likely to shoot high or low because of the many variables in form like draw arm and wrist tensions, that result in the string being pulled more by the top or bottom fingers, which is often done subconciously.
It also makes the shorter bows much more shootable , since the single finger doesn't get pinched as easily as a three-finger spread.
It does take a while to practice that method of releasing until the muscle memory takes over and makes it your natural way. During the re-training process, there WILL be some accidental releases at half-draw when the fingers sortof decide on their own that it's time to release, buut those things disappear with enough summer practice by fall, you should be shooting better than ever before, and naturally enough for quick shots at rabbits or aerial targets
I found out later that the one-finger release method had also been discovered by finger shooters in target competitions where compounds were allowed but releases weren't.
The change in comfortably shootable ata length for average sized shooters had pretty much been established as being a minimum of ten inches more than draw length for the split three-finger release method, to about six inches more than draw length for the single-finger release method.
So, if you aren't already shooting the single-finger release method, you might want to consider whether you want try changing to it before putting a lot into a bow that's only shootable with the split three-finger style, and passing up the greater number of faster and usually quieter more modern ones available.
My personal favorites dropped in ata length from a 41" ata single cam Browning to a 35" ata Mathews, and my draw length was 28.5".
Still shooting the Mathews LX, and still trying to overcome the target panic that seems to come from switching from fingers to release. Recently borrowed a friend's little No-cam, and shopt it both ways. It's definitely too short for me for any extended finger shooting even with the one-finger method. I could get by with it strictly for hunting, but for me, there's a lot of practice shots required to regain and retain hunting accuracy, and that short an ata become torturous after frequent practices. Shoots sweet with a release, though, and if I really needed a new bow today, it would be at the top of my list.
Yes, letting down is touchy for a while after starting to shoot with this method, but like most anything else, you compensate for it and/or get used to it shortly with practice. The first few times it's pretty much a slowed-down dryfire, but it gets more slowed down and less spooky quickly.
Most aggravating part for me was that occasional accidental release at half draw. I had made a practice of drawing with he arrow pointing below the target anyway, for safety, but had gotten away from it sometimes when practicing out at a remote location. After a few early releases and watching my arrows go sailing over the treetops and a couple hundred yardsinto the woods, never to be seen again, I renewed my practice of making sure the draw was starting with a downwards pointing arrow. 8^)
I never experimented with the thumb release. I believe it was a Mongolian release method. I know I've seen pictures of what was described as Mongolian thumb rings that were suppsedly early release aids and were worn on the thumb with an extension that resembled a small shoehorn shape that was retained by the forefinger. Not sure if they were released by relaxing the finger, or sliding it off the end of the extension.
I did mess with a cheap plastic version of an early release device called a "bowlock" if I recall correctly, back in my recurve days. Never got consistent with it myself. My wife shot targets with me back then and she liked that one better than I did, but she also stayed with fingers for competitive shooting.
I did play with some leather pieces for a while, using them in a similar method to the thumb ring, but never got that comfortable with them, either.
From my reading and gaining knowledge the last few weeks on compound bows for finger shooting, I am looking seriously at trying to find a Hoyt Protec...or even a little older Hoyt Striker II. My problem is finding a LEFTY at a reasonable price, as it seems some folks on such as fleabay are asking almost redicilous prices for a several year old, used bow. :( Anyhow, the search continues and I sure appreciate the advice given above.
I thought the "hard wall" was awkward at first, but after a while, I really preferred it, to the point that it was pretty much a requirement in later bows. It actually improves accuracy, because it really nails down the draw length. When shooting the old "long valley" bows, I would often find myself creeping forward with the drawing hand. With a definite stopping point, I soon learned to shorten the draw length to what it should have been earlier and come to rest at full draw keeping a little tension against that solid wall. Really helped with vertical group size. And you can always pull a little more against it if you personally need more holding weight to get off the string cleanly.
I shot with a guy about twenty years ago at the Triple Crown IBO shoot in Bedford who was shooting a 98% maximum letoff bow in our Hunter Fingers class. He ended up winning the class in that event, and had just returned from a spring bear hunt in Canada where he'd killed a nice bear with the same bow. Said it took all the worry out of having an animal stop behind a tree when they were almost clear for the shot.
There are always plenty of suggestions from people with the best of intentions but many of them will be based on "old wive's tales" regarding equipment changes that have been proven to be either wrong or at least a matter of personal preference years ago.
The most comfortable fit in a newer bow, the one that quickly fits your previous style of shooting and "feel", will most likely be a longer ATA and softer wall with a long valley. They will also be quite a bit slower and likely to need some work to shoot quietly. And since they will be older bows, they will most likely be harder to find parts for if needed, and usually a little heavier in the hand to carry. There are trade-offs in every decision, and the one choice that works best for you in the long run will be very hard for someone else to accurately make for you.
Your willingness to adapt and alter your shooting style, and your ability to devote practice time to getting used to something different, can open up your choices to include faster, shorter and lighter, and often quieter bows. It might not be the best choice for everyone, but others here have successfully made that choice. It is a viable option.
I would still recommend an ATA close to 6" longer than your draw length as the finger pinch issue seems to have pretty definite limit on how short the ATA can go, even with a single-finger hold.
Good luck on your selection.
My ultimate finger compound bow would have a quicker peak, longer valley, and a hard wall. ;)