How to Measure Your Draw Length


One of the biggest concerns that shooters and hunters of all experience levels have is finding a bow with the perfect draw length. While for a beginner this may seem intimidating, it's actually extremely easy to determine your own draw length. Follow these quick guidelines and you'll be one your way to a perfectly sized compound bow in no time.

The first thing you have to do of course is take some measurements of yourself. You can either measure your wingspan, or you can measure your shooting arm length directly. To measure your wingspan you'll just need a tape measurer and a friend for a minute to help you out.

Stand straight up and hold your arms straight out to each side of your body. Be sure to keep your hands open and your fingertips extended. Have your friend measure from fingertip to fingertip across the front of your body. The resulting number is your wingspan, and for most people it will be the same or extremely similar to their height, although this is variable.

Once you have your wingspan you can then perform some quick calculations to determine the appropriate draw length for you. Take your wingspan in inches and divide it by 2.5 or 2.6. For best results, divide the number by both 2.5 and 2.6 and take the draw length that's in the middle of those two calculations.

For example, if you have a 67" wingspan (and likely stand about 5'7"), you'll end up with 26.8 and 25.76 when you divide by 2.5 and 2.6 respectively. The number you end up with by averaging the two is 26.28, which means a 26 inch or 26.5 inch draw length is your ideal.

The more direct method, but potentially less accurate depending on posture and shooting position, is to stand in front of a wall and assume a shooting position, with your first touching the wall and your arm extended straight out. Have the friend measure from the wall to your mouth in a straight line and you'll end up with your draw length.

What If I'm Between Lengths or Growing?

If you take your measurements and find out that you're right in the middle of two recommended settings, 26.25 or so as in the example above, it's best to go down in size to the 26 inch setting as opposed to move up in size for the 26.5 inch setting. You'll be slightly in front of your draw length, but you will maintain your full control and precision, and you won't be reaching back farther than necessary, leading to discomfort or distorting your form.

Additionally, if you're growing you should remember that nearly all compound bows are adjustable these days. Be sure to find a model that is adjustable upwards of where you already are, so you don't have to go out and purchase a new bow in a year after another growth spurt.

Measuring your draw length isn't that difficult. However, precision is of the utmost importance, because it directly translates into the accuracy, power, control and comfort that you'll experience. Operating with the correct draw length is a primary concern for any archer, and you'll notice the difference immediately when working with different sizes.