Your bow should be considered as an extension to yourself. Everything has to flow seamlessly - take it as second nature, something so natural that you wouldn’t really notice it at all!
Sounds weird, right? But that’s how it is in archery. You would want to have a bow that will work and adjust to your style (and not the other way around). And this is why we’re tackling this important topic today: your bow’s draw weight.
Two Simple and Easy Steps on How to Determine Bow Draw Weight
What exactly is your bow draw weight? Your bow's draw weight is the amount of force you'd need to muster when drawing it to anchor position. In other words, your bow's draw weight will help you determine if you can comfortably shoot it.
And being comfortable matters in archery. After all, you wouldn't want to tire yourself just after a couple of shots, right?
As such, let's break down how you can determine the bow draw weight with these easy pointers.
Know Your Personal Draw Length
To know the bow draw weight, you must first know your own draw length.
To quickly define that, your personal draw length is the distance between your suggested bow's arrow rest towards the nock of an arrow. Take note that your bow should be fully drawn and at anchor point as well.
Now, how would you measure that? Here's the easiest method (all you would need is some measuring tape, a calculator, and a buddy to help you out!):
- Stand straight against a wall.
- Stretch out your arms.
- Let your friend measure the distance from the tip of your index finger towards the other.
- Get the figure.
- Divide the measurement by 2.5.
The value you get is your draw length - make sure you use inches. To learn even more about measuring your draw length check this article.
Check Your Starting Bow Weight
Now, how does your personal draw length relate to your bow's draw weight?
Basically, it all matches up towards getting that "perfect fit" that will work best for you. Considering that you now know your draw length, you would now want to get a bow with just the right amount of weight for you to manage.
There are various factors to consider when choosing the right bow draw weight - your archery skill level, physical strength and purpose for shooting (such as hunting) do all matter. We'll be discussing these factors below, but generally speaking, here's a simple chart to give you an idea on how to select the right bow draw weight (take note that the chart below refers only to recurve bows - you’ll find out more later on why draw weight differ for different bows!):
Beginner Level Class
Intermediate Level Class
Youth Archer (8 - 10 yrs. old) = 12 lbs.
Youth Archer (8 - 10 yrs. old) = 10 - 14 lbs.
Youth Archer (11 - 13 yrs. old) = 14 lbs.
Youth Archer (11 - 13 yrs. old) = 12 - 18 lbs.
Teen Archer (14 - 17 yrs. old) = 12 - 16 lbs.
Teen Archer (14 - 17 yrs. old) = 16 - 22 lbs.
Young Adult Archer (18 - 20 yrs. old) = 16 - 22 lbs.
Young Adult Archer (18 - 20 yrs. old) = 18 - 26 lbs.
Adult Female Archer = 16 - 26 lbs.
Adult Female Archer = 22 - 32 lbs.
Adult Male Archer = 26 - 30 lbs.
Adult Male Archer = 26 - 38 lbs.
This should give you a clear idea on what draw weight you should choose when getting a bow - aim for a bow that you will be comfortable shooting!
Why You Need to Determine the Bow Draw Weight
Knowing your bow’s draw weight is definitely important. Not only will you be able to perform to the best of your ability - you’ll be saving yourself from frustration and potential injury.
The most common instance that you would want to avoid is having a too large draw weight. This is essentially you putting in so much effort just to pull a bow string. Now, should this really matter?
Yes, of course! If you draw weight is too high you will quickly grow tired and after a short while will not be able to draw your bow. Even worse, a too high draw weight makes it hard to keep the proper stance, which could even result in an injury.
Besides these, the draw weight is also important when picking an arrow as different kind of arrows can cope with different draw weights.
That said, let’s focus on the importance of the draw weight of your bow, by discussing two different archery practices:
The details matter if you're into target archery. From gauging the distance precisely to the slightest equipment enhancements, you would want to aim for a strategy that will give you pinpoint accuracy.
And your bow draw weight would often spell the difference between success and disaster. For starters, and particularly for competitive target archery, a set draw weight may be required.
A good example for this scenario would be USA Archery events. Competitions following this organization's rules need to follow the standard of shooting only up to 60 lbs. draw weight.
Regardless of competition rules, going for accuracy is a lot more beneficial than going for a high draw weight. Two important benefits that go with the accuracy angle are:
- Endurance – you would want to shoot as much as possible without draining your stamina. Once fatigue sets in, you are more likely to miss your mark.
- Maximum Performance – particularly for compound bows, a draw weight set at the maximum limit results to better accuracy. As noticed by pro shooters, compound bows with tightened limbs tend to perform better.
Again, comfort should always be placed as the highest priority when selecting your bow draw weight. Stay comfy, get more accurate shots!
Similar to target archery, there may be certain limitations/recommendations when selecting your hunting bow's draw weight. The most important limitation is state game regulations. Depending on where you plan to hunt game, a minimum bow weight may be required. Please check with your local government's hunting laws for more information.
When it does come for approved big game hunts, a heavier bow draw weight is suggested. Not only will you be packing the firepower needed to bring down larger prey, you will also be doing it in an ethical manner. As suggested by pro hunters, recommended bow draw weight should be no less than 40 lbs.
Also, with a heavier bow, you would also need to have heavier or larger arrows. Otherwise, you'd just waste those shots (either from damage to your bow, or your arrow breaking apart once it's shot).
As such, always consider comfort when selecting a bow draw weight for hunting. Safety, efficiency, and an overall satisfying archery experience will soon follow.
What You Need to Know About Draw Weight and Your Preferred Bow
Time to be more specific. Let’s now find out more about how the right bow draw weight will work on certain bow types.
Considering a recurve bow's design, its string can be pulled indefinitely - it only depends on how strong you are! Now, this is why we included the chart above as reference: you need to strike a balance of power and control when it comes to this type of bow.
The ideal bow draw weight should give you a great balance of control, power, and accuracy! Check this article to learn more about recurve bow sizing (including draw weight).
Compound bows, on the other hand, have a set draw weight. You can change this draw weight by adjusting the cam system. As such, less effort is needed when keeping a compound bow's string at full draw length! Adjusting a compound bow's draw weight is possible either by you or through a pro shop. To learn more about setting your compound bow's draw weight read this article.
These Factors Will Help Determine the Bow Draw Weight for You
More help is here! These three important factors will guide you in getting the appropriate draw weight for your bow:
Shooting Form and Your Strength
Aside from getting your draw length, get real on your physical strength and archery level as well. It really wouldn't matter getting a heavyweight or expensive bow when you couldn't even pull on the string, right? Remember - your bow is an extension of yourself. Everything needs to be smooth as silk when shooting!
What Are You Shooting At?
The next factor to keep in mind is to know what you plan to use a bow for. As mentioned above, target archery and hunting are two different archery practices. Each have their own unique qualities that will point you towards in getting the optimum draw weight for your bow.
Your Own Unique Style
Last and perhaps the most important, comfort and personal preference should always be prioritized. Remember, a natural motion should be attained when shooting. Getting into this zone will give you not only the confidence to make more shots - you'll be hitting more accurate shots as well!
Related Bow Draw Weight Information that You Need to Know
Lastly, we’d like to share some more miscellaneous (and helpful) information on bow draw weight.
How to Find Out Your Ideal Draw Weight - a Checklist!
As a companion piece to the three factors mentioned above, we’d like to expound further with a checklist - ask these questions when picking a bow!
- What is your archery level?
- How often do you practice archery?
- Are you using your own archery equipment?
- Do you plan to compete in an archery tournament?
- Do you plan to be a hunter?
The questions above will help address the three factors we've mentioned above. Focus on the question to get the answers you need!
Using a Bow Scale to Find the Draw Weight of a Bow
With a bow scale you can easily find out your bow's draw weight. Here are the steps:
- Choose your bow scale – this useful tool comes in both manual and digital forms.
- Check your bow scale parts. The hook and weigh needs to be in working order to get the bow draw weight figure.
- Once you've checked the scale, hook it onto the bow's d-loop or string.
- Steadily pull the scale, and the bow string with it to your anchor point.
- Once at anchor point, take a reading.
- For safety, go for three reading attempts.
- Get the average of the three attempts. That should be your bow's draw weight.
Fun and simple, right?
Is your Bow Draw Weight Too Heavy? Or Too Light?
Finally, let’s reveal what happens if you don’t have the recommended draw weight for your bow.
Heavy Bow Draw Weight
- You can't pull the bow string, you can't make a shot!
- Pulling the bow string is a chore – your accuracy will suffer.
- Your stamina suffers, you lose out on making those shots.
- Out in the wild, you lose out on opportunities to go for a fatal hit. Worse, you may tire yourself out pretty easily just taking aim.
- The worst, you can't keep the proper form and focus on your target due to being overpowered, and an accident happens.
Light Bow Draw Weight
- Too light draw weight rarely has serious consequences, still you will not reach your maximum performance with it.
- You tend to lose control of your bow.
- Your aim goes way off.
- Worse, your arrow drops!
Additionally, and regardless of which weight problem, injuries may also set in. Stay comfy and safe with the right bow draw weight!
Know the Bow Draw Weight, Get to Know More on How You Can Grow as an Archer
To cap it off, the proper bow draw weight is essential in your growth as an archer. We hope the information above will make your archery experience an exciting and productive one!
Find out more about bow draw weight - these awesome links will do the trick:
This NuSensei video shows how to measure draw weight!
Hunting? This article shares why your bow’s draw weight matters in the wild.
A young archer asked for help on his bow draw weight, shooters from all over helped out in this nice reddit thread .
Besides draw length and draw weight, string length is another important parameter of your bow.