How to Determine Your Draw Length?

Archery is a fine sport, but there are some things to know before buying your first bow. For instance, you have to understand how to determine your draw length.

When checking the draw length, there are two variables to consider. The first is your draw length, which determines the right size of the bow. The second is the bow’s draw length, which determines its suitability for the purpose.

This guide is dedicated to the former and aims to teach you how to measure your draw length in the comfort of your home.

What Is Archer’s Draw Length?

The archer’s draw length is a measure that determines the right size bow for you. It’s like shopping for garments, and each individual has a different bow length. Knowing this number can help you choose a bow that’s comfortable to use and that you can handle accurately, but it also prevents injuries and many posture-related issues.

Measuring the draw length is easy, and luckily there are various methods to use. Each archer ultimately develops their own approach. I find it really easy to determine this number with the method below.

How to Determine Your Draw Length? An Easy Way to Measure It

As I said, there are several ways to measure your draw length. However, there is this one method that has been used for years and that I find quite simple. It also returns accurate results, which is essential for this purpose. The technique is called the ‘arm span’ and is just what it sounds, measuring your arm’s span.

There are a few things you’ll need:

  • A wall
  • Duct tape
  • Measure tape
  • A calculator… or a sharp mind
  • A partner
  • Here’s how to determine your draw length with the ‘arm span’ method.

    1. Look for a buddy. You’ll need someone to help you with the measurements for an accurate result. For all you DIY guys out there, trust me, rely on a partner for this one.
    2. Stand upright holding your back straight against the wall and open your arms with both palms open. Your arms must be parallel to the ground and aligned with your shoulders, while the back of your palms must stay against the wall.
    3. Ask your partner to mark the end of your hand on the wall by applying duct tape where your middle finger ends, on both sides of your body.
    4. You can now step away from the wall and measure the distance from one duct tape to another.
    5. Divide the number by 2.5 and voila! You have your draw length!

    Now, you’ve got the draw length! How lovely is that? But perhaps you have no idea what to do with this number. Keep reading to find out what size bow you need.

    How to Choose the Right Bow According to Your Draw Length?

    For any aspiring archer, the fun part is about to begin. With your draw length, you get to choose your first bow. Use the table below to find the right size for you.

    Archer’s Draw Length

    Bow Size

    From 14 to 16 inches

    48 inches

    From 17 to 20 inches

    54 inches

    From 20 to 22 inches

    58 inches

    From 22 to 24 inches

    62 inches

    From 24 to 26 inches

    64-66 inches

    From 26 to 28 inches

    66-68 inches

    From 28 to 30 inches

    68-70 inches

    31 inches and over

    70-72 inches

    A side note for kids. If you measure your child’s draw length, don’t forget that kids grow. You’ll have to re-measure it regularly to make sure your kid has not outgrown the bow size they are using. When this happens, just move up one bow size.

    In this regard, investing in a recurve bow for beginners with interchangeable limbs could be your best bet, as you’ll be able to only replace the limbs instead of the whole bow as the child grows.

    Factors that Influence Your Draw Length 

    Assessing your draw length with the method above is super easy, but some factors can have a negative impact on your measurements. The foremost important is an incorrect posture. Paying attention to where your partner sticks the duct tape is also important.

    Inaccuracies translate into either a shorter or longer draw length that comes with subsequent negative points.

    • Shorter draw length: If you don’t align your arms and shoulders perfectly, your measured draw length may result shorter than it really is. This results in picking a too small bow which may cause injuries due to its short string. Make sure your arms and shoulders are perfectly aligned and parallel to the ground to avoid unpleasant surprises.
    • Longer draw length: This often happens because the duct tape has been attached too far from the tips of your middle fingers or because your posture was incorrect. Make sure you keep your back against the wall in a relaxed position and that your partner takes the correct measurement. If the resulted draw length is longer than yours, you could end up using a too large bow. This means you’ll be unable to pull the string all the way to the end, jeopardizing your accuracy. A larger bow is also heavier and harder to maneuver, especially by an inexperienced beginner.

    Besides the above, there are many other factors which can influence your measurement. For instance, if you keep your back arched and not straight against the wall, this incorrect posture will affect your results. So will the palms of your hands if they are not open, or your wrists if you don’t keep them straight.

    What Else to Consider when Buying a Bow?

    • Besides the size, it’s vital to choose the right weight of the bow, which will be determined by the strength of the individual who’s going to use it. This is especially important for beginners, so they don’t develop wrong shooting skills.
    • When trying your new bow, remember to keep your chest open and place yourself in the shooting position, so that you can acknowledge the right scenario with your new equipment.
    • Safety is crucial, so don’t let go of the string without an arrow, because this could cause damage to your body and to the bow.
    • There are several kinds of bows that will work in different ways according to their material and weight. Choosing the right one will depend on your needs and coordination.

    Final Thoughts 

    Target practice, bow hunting, and even bow fishing are all amazing recreational activities. But practicing them in the right way is crucial. Determining your draw length as accurately as possible is key to choosing the right bow, and this can make or break the deal.

    Don’t forget that archery can be dangerous. To minimize hazards and prevent risks, you need to choose the right equipment.

    When practiced wisely, archery comes with endless benefits; so measure your draw length, pick the right bow, and get out there to start exercising.