What is Bow Draw Length?


Draw length on a compound bow refers to how far you will be able to pull back the bow to release your shot. The specific draw length that you end up using will be based on a variety of different factors. However the predominant and most important factor for draw length will be your height and your wingspan. It's all about finding a good fit that is going to enable you to shoot with comfort and accuracy.

First, it's important to make note of why draw length is so important. One of the differences between a compound bow and a recurve is that a compound bow cannot be pulled back to any length. On a recurve you can keep pulling back as far as you'd like, but with a compound bow you can only pull back until the draw-back or "wall", which will be in the full-draw position.

The first step to determining your draw length is getting proper measurements of your arm length and wing span. There are several different ways to do this, but you'll need some measuring tape and a friend on hand as well. The first is to stand straight up with your arms extended straight out to either side. Have the friend measure from fingertip to fingertip for your wingspan. Then take this number and divide by 2.5 or 2.6 to determine your appropriate draw length.

Alternatively, in shooting position in front of a wall, extend your fist until it touches the wall and your arm is extended straight. Then have the friend measure from mouth to wall to directly determine your draw length. If you're concerned about the accuracy, have an expert at a shop help you out.

Also keep in mind that the proper shooting form – or the specific form that you work with – will play a role in determining the most effective draw length for you. Measuring from fist to mouth is pretty generic, and if you shoot improperly by drawing back a bit farther than your mouth you'll end up with a draw length that's too large. Conversely, if you don't pull back far enough then you'll end up with a draw length that's really too short, and you won't be able to reach peak power at the full draw position.

Finally, remember however that on most compound bows the draw length is adjustable to a wide range of settings. This means you don't need to necessarily purchase a bow with a specific draw length, you just need to get it fine-tuned and adjusted once you do make a purchase. With that said, keep on the lookout for bows that are designed with smaller or narrower ranges to ensure you don't get stuck with a model that doesn't really work for you and your size.

What Does Draw Length Affect?

The draw length that you end up working with is going to end up affecting your maximum velocity as well as your accuracy. Remember, the draw length on a compound bow will be at its full draw position, which means if you use a draw length that is too large, you will be drawing beyond a point that's within your comfort range. You'll technically be able to shoot with more velocity than you would at "your" full draw point, but you'll be losing a good deal of accuracy and control. You'll also end up being uncomfortable as you shoot as well.

A guideline for velocity to remember is that you'll only get a maximum velocity that's directly tied to your draw length. Each inch of draw length lends itself to about 10 fps of velocity. Therefore a compound bow that can be adjusted up to a 32 inch bow length will be advertised with a max velocity of 320. But if you use a draw length of 28 inches, your maximum velocity will actually be 280. Just keep that in mind when you're purchasing a bow, but remember to never purchase a larger bow with the intentions of shooting faster. As mentioned, the tradeoffs in accuracy and comfort aren't worthwhile.

The draw length that you use is directly tied to your height, your wingspan and arm length. Remember that it will end up affecting your maximum velocity, and that on a compound bow the draw length is at the full draw position. This means that you must ensure you're working with a bow of the proper size to ensure maximum power, control and comfort.