How to Adjust Draw Length on a Compound Bow

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Compound bows are designed to be drawn back to a fixed distance, unlike traditional recurves and longbows which can be draw back at almost any distance. The draw length of your bow needs to be set according to your height, allowing for a comfortable draw with optimal power and accuracy. You should always fire a compound bow from a full draw.

Here we’ll be explaining to you how to determine your optimal draw length while taking you through a look at how to adjust draw length of a compound bow to match your bow, strength & height.

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Determining the Perfect Draw Length

There is no fixed rule which guarantees the best draw length; instead the perfect draw length is relative to your individual size, height, weight and strength. This being said, there is an extremely reliable calculation which has been used by countless archers over many, many years. The “Arm Span” method serves as a great starting point to begin finding the right draw length for you. The optimal draw length is the length at which you shoot best so be sure to adjust as is necessary from the basic draw determined by the “Arm Span” method.

The Arm Span Method

While other methods such as the “Wingspan” and others exist and work, this technique gives a draw length which is comfortable and optimal for most:

• Determine your arm-span length in inches by standing with your arms outstretched naturally

• Get a friend to measure the length from the tip of one middle finger to the opposing middle finger’s tip

• Divide the length obtained by 2.5 and you have a starting draw length to work with

Adjusting the Draw Length of Your Bow

Find the limb bolts of your bow situated near the center. These bolts are typically locked into the riser using locking bolts, found just below the top limb or a short distance above the top limb. Tightening the bolts (clockwise) will increase the draw weight of your bow while loosening the limb bolts will lower the draw length and weight.

Always use a bow scale to check the draw weight as you adjust your bolts. When lowering the draw length of your bow always start from a fully tightened set of limb bolts and adjust by unscrewing the bolts at one full revolution at a time. Check the weight and adjust as is further necessary.

Draw Weight

Draw weight is the maximum amount of weight that an archer will need to pull while drawing their bow. Compound bows differ from traditional bows in the sense that they reach a peak weight then drop to a holding weight instead of requiring a fixed amount of pull poundage while drawing the bow.

General Guidelines for Draw Weight

If you are put on the spot and don’t quite know what draw weight to use for yourself or a friend, then here is a general reference according to weight which will generally give the best draw. Remember to use this as a guide only, adjusting until shooting your bow is comfortable.

• Small children weighing between 45 to 70 pounds – 10 to 15 pounds draw weight

• Average children weighing between 70 to 100 pounds – 15 to 30 pounds draw weight

• Small-frame women and boys weighing between 100 to 130 pounds – 30 to 40 pounds draw weight

• Large frame women and boys weighing between 130 to 150 pounds – 40 to 55 pounds draw weight

• Men weighing between 150 to 180 pounds – 45 to 65 pounds draw weight

• Men weighing between 150 to 180 pounds setting bow for hunting or 3d archery – 50 to 70 pounds draw weight

• Large frame and muscular men – 65 to 80 pounds draw weight

Compound Bow Adjustment Precautions

Ensure that you never tighten your limb bolts too much. Over-tightening will cause strain to the bowstring or cam making it essential to check the user manual supplied with your bow to find the maximum turns to tighten the limb bolt. Whenever you are done adjusting the draw length of your compound bow, be sure to secure the locking screws in place. Without the screws locked in, the limb can disengage during use posing a great danger to you as the archer and bystanders.

Never Overset Your Draw Length

The longer your draw length, the greater the speed and power of your shot but this does not mean that you should set your bow for too much draw length. Some shooters opt to overset their draw length on purpose but the trade-off giving a loss of comfort and control is not worth it. A draw length which does not suit your height and weight may give a high-speed shot but your accuracy will pale in comparison to a properly configured compound bow.

Establish a Comfortable Draw Length and Weight

Most archers find that the most comfortable draw length and weight requires them to use about 75% of their strength at the most. If your bow is overbowed, it’ll only be a few shots before you are fatigued, bringing your practice to an end. As your back and upper-body strength increases you can always increase your draw lengthy for a faster shot.

Don’t fall into the mistake of using the same draw length across all of your bows as depending on the size, weight and overall composition, each compound bow will have a different draw length and weight which is comfortable.

Find the Right Balance

Some archers prefer a draw length calculation which takes your total arm span length less 15 then divided by two, resulting in your total draw length. This is referred to as the “Wingspan Method.” As you can see, it is essential that your draw length never be longer than is necessary. The longer the fault in length the greater the impact on your accuracy.

The distance of your draw length does not change when you add a string loop but your anchor point will adjust. If you want to retain the same anchor point, make sure that you shorten your draw length accordingly to move your anchor point back to your place of preference.

About Brad Harris