How to Adjust the Draw Weight on a Compound Bow

Whether you’re ready to advance to a tighter draw or are feeling the fatigue from too-tight strings, it’s simple and easy to adjust the draw weight on your compound bow. It doesn’t require expensive equipment, either, and it takes less than an hour of your time. You can just follow the five steps below.

1. Determine Your Bow’s Maximum and Minimum Weight Limits

Generally, every bow manufacturer comes with both maximum and minimum preset weight limits. These draw weight limits translate into bolt turns that you’ll be manually adjusting. Make sure you don’t max out on your weight limit, since that means you’ll run out of thread on your limb bolt. It could detach from the rest of the bow and potentially injure you.

So, under no circumstances are you to exceed these weight limits in either direction. The manufacturer might also have a distance limit of around a quarter inch or so between the bottom of the limb cup and the riser. You will need to have a tape measure to physically measure the distance between these two points.

2. Use an Archery Scale to Determine the Current Draw Weight

Before you adjust the draw weight, you want to find out what the current weight is. For that, you’ll need a standard archery hanging scale. They’re vertically shaped, with a hook on the end and the measurement readings placed on the scale. These scales tell you what kind of poundage that you’re pulling. It’s relatively simple to set one up. Hang it so that the entire bow can be extended downwards without touching the floor.

Locate the release loop or the nocking point on the rear string. Loop this point over the hook at the end of the scale. Using a ruler or tape measure, make sure your bow is lined up directly in the center and facing downwards.

Spread your hands out, so that you’re applying pressure on the risers only. Don’t grip onto the wings since they’re a moving part and could be unstable.

Push the bow down, watching the scale at the same time. You want to be pulling on the bow until just before it peaks the curve. You’ll get your weight reading on the scale. Gently pull the bow back up and unloop it off the hook. Normally, bows read between forty and one hundred pounds of draw weight.

3. Set Your Goal Draw Weight

After you’ve found the current draw weight, determine what poundage you’d like to adjust to. Dropping the weight makes it easier to draw back and shoot, helping to prevent fatigue. If you’ve been having too much difficulty at the current weight, consider lessening it by three to five pounds. Increasing the weight builds up strength and is better as you advance from beginner up to intermediate and expert shooting practice. Build up gradually, only by about three to find pounds at a time.

In either case, it’s better to make small adjustments and slowly increase than to try and make lots of adjustments and run the risk of damaging the bow or causing injury.

Turn your bow sideways, so that you’re looking at the side of each of the risers. On some bow models, you’ll find two small black locking bolts. They lock the bow limbs into place. Before you change the poundage of the draw weight, you’ll need to loosen those two bolts by using a wrench or Allen wrench. Then, after you change the poundage, tighten the bolts securely before you shoot the bow. Not every model has those bolts.

4. Making Turns to Adjust the Bow Weight

Now, with the bolts loosened (if applicable), it’s time to adjust the weight. To do that, you’ll need a wrench. It’s recommended that you get the T-handle hex key or hexagon shaped wrench. That will help you know how many turns you’ve made and simplifies the entire process.

Place the T-handle wrench into the limb bolt on either limb. Line the wrench handle so that it’s completely parallel with the limb underneath it. Keeping this alignment helps you know how many half-turns or turns that you’ve made. For either direction, each complete 360-degree turn equals about two pounds. Check with your bow’s manufacturer to be sure. The direction you turn it in depends on whether you’re adding or subtracting weight:

  • Add More Weight – Turn the limb bolts clockwise
  • Lessen the Weight – Turn the limb bolts counter-clockwise

Time to start turning the wrench. Rotate the wrench either clockwise or counter-clockwise to change the draw weight. Make one complete turn, making sure to line up the T-handle with the limb. Then take the wrench out and make one complete turn in the same direction for the other limb bolt on the other limb.

5. Measure the New Draw Weight

After you’ve made one complete turn of each of the limb bolts, set the wrench aside. Return the bow to the scale, loop it around the hook, and repeat the process in Step 2 to check the poundage. If you’ve reached your goal weight, then you can tighten up the locking bolts with a wrench, and you’re done.

If you haven’t reached your goal weight, return to the above step, and turn both limb bolts on both limbs again. Use the scale to measure the draw weight. Keep repeating these steps until you’ve reached your goal weight. Then, tighten the locking bolts.

One final step is to use a tape measure or ruler to adjust the tiller after you’ve changed the draw weight. The tiller keeps your strings even. You measure that from the back of the riser, where it meets the limb in the limb pockets, to the strings. Make sure it’s the same measurement on both the top and the bottom risers. If it’s not, use the T-handle wrench to adjust the limb bolts until the measurements are even.


With the limb bolts adjusted and the locking bolts securely tightened, you’re ready to head back out to target practice or on the hunt with your compound bow.

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