How Do You Know Your Bow Draw Length?

Shooting an arrow for the first time is a memorable experience only if you’re using the right size bow. A question that torments the novice is, how do you know your bow draw length? And why does it matter?

The truth is this number tormented me too at first. Getting used with draw length, draw weight, and all the other measurements of a bow is far from easy. But all these variables are more than significant.

What’s even more confusing when experienced archers talk about the draw length is figuring out whether they ask about your draw length or your bow’s. I already explained what the former means and how to measure it in a previous article.

Today, it’s time to speak about the draw length of your bow. Read on to find out more about it.


Why Does It Matter?

The draw length of your bow comes to complement your own draw length. In other words, once you’ve measured your draw length, you should use that number to choose a bow with a draw length that perfectly matches yours.

For instance, if your draw length is 28 inches, you must ensure the draw length of your bow, aka the maximum extension of the string, is also 28 inches.

If the two values don’t match, the bow is inappropriate to use and, depending on circumstances, it can be either dangerous or detrimental for your progress.

In fact:

  • If the bow’s draw length is shorter than yours, using the bow could result in injuries, as you will tend to overstretch the string.
  • If the bow’s draw length is longer than yours, you will never be able to draw the string sufficiently, meaning your performance will be affected.
  • But how do you know your bow draw length?

    This question should have a simple answer. Manufacturers specify the draw length on their bows. So, why should you bother measuring it?

    Well, there are several reasons:

  • Manufacturers can rate their bows incorrectly. It seems improbable at first but trusts me, it happens way more often than you could imagine.
  • Your string could get loose. This alters the actual bow draw length, jeopardizing your progress.
  • Your draw length can grow. If you have less than 20 years old, your bones could still develop and alter your initial draw length, which means you’ll have to upgrade to a longer bow.

  • What Is ATA Draw Length?

    The ATA draw length is the industry’s standard you can use to know if the bow you want to buy was rated correctly by the manufacturer or if it’s longer or shorter. ATA stands for Archery Trade Association previously known as the Archery Manufacturers and Merchants Organization (AMO).

    The old abbreviation is still used by some manufacturers, but regardless of how they call it, it means the same thing.

    Now, although ATA could have made things straightforward and provide a simple measurement, they decided to actually use a calculation instead of it. Therefore, if you want to find out the ATA draw length of your bow, you’ll have to use the following steps.

    1. Pull the string at full draw.
    2. Measure the distance from the throat of the grip to the part of the string where the arrow is nocked.
    3. Add 1.75 to the number achieved.

    Check this number against your own draw length and see if it’s suitable for you.


    Ways To Check Your Bow's Draw Length 

    The industry standard described above shows you the classical method of calculating your bow draw length. However, actually using this method to check the draw length is dangerous. Letting go of the string while someone is measuring the distance from point A to point B can result in injuries, so you’d better use an alternative method.

    Luckily, there is more than one you can use.

    Archery pro shops, for instance, use bow draw boards that allow you to place the bow on a marked board and check the string extension. However, this method may give inaccurate results unless you’re indeed an expert.

    The simplest method is measuring your bow draw length with a draw arrow.

    A draw arrow is a simple device similar to a regular arrow but marked with measurements in millimeters and inches. The end of the arrow that comes in contact with the string has a peculiar shape that grips to the line for a more accurate and hazard-free measurement.

    All you have to do is to fix the arrow on the string and pull to maximum extension. Read the measurement on the arrow at the throat of the nock and add up 1.75 inches to get an accurate ATA draw length value.


    What Does An Inaccurate Bow Draw Length Mean?

    You should always aim to use a bow with a draw length as closely as possible to yours. However, manufacturers are rarely accurate about their draw length, and you might end up with a bow that’s either too long or too short.

    If you use a recurve bow, there is good news. This type of bow allows for some margin of error, that’s why it is ideal for inexperienced users and kids.

    Things get complicated if you’re using a compound bow. Due to the construction of this type of bow, the weapon allows fine adjustments of the min and max draw length but allows no margin of error. That’s why it is relevant to measure both your draw length accurately and determine the real draw length of the bow you’re using.


    Final Thoughts

    Identifying the right bow draw length is essential if you want to get the most out of your archery experience. The process is uncomplicated, and now you should know all the steps to take to find the right bow for you.


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