How To Measure Bow Draw Weight (Improve Shot Accuracy)

By Andy Ryan


Posted at
woman with her compound bow

One of the most important metrics in Archery is the draw weight. Whether you are a seasoned shooter or a beginner, being conscious of bow draw weight can help you enhance your skills in Archery. The weight of the arrow also plays a pivotal role in the equation, so before you work on the practicals of your Archery, it’s best to brush up on theoretics. This will help you improve your shot accuracy, something every archery aims to achieve.

If you are new to archery or are looking to improve your archery skills, then knowing how to measure bow draw weight is critical for taking accurate shots. In this article, we have covered all the aspects of measuring bow draw weight, including what you should measure, and how exactly to measure it. Let’s dive in!

What you Should Measure?

If you’re a beginner, you might not be very familiar with the fundamentals of Archery, so let’s start with some basics. Draw weight refers to the maximum weight you experience when the bow is fully drawn.

To measure the draw weight, you would essentially have to ascertain the bow’s peak draw weight. The method of measuring the draw weight varies from bow type to bow type. For instance, while measuring the draw weight of recurve and traditional bows is simple, it is a tad bit tricky to determine the draw weight of compound bows. But fret not, we’ve simplified the process for beginners.   

Draw Weight in Traditional and Recurve Bow

The draw curves of both the traditional and recurve bow are linear. Due to this, as you draw the bow further back, the draw increases. Hence, the draw weight of these bows increases with the length of the draw. Because of such dynamics, you measure the draw lengths in both traditional and recurve bows at the end of the bow’s draw. That’s where the peak draw of the bow is. 

Draw Weight in Compound Bows

The structure of the compound bow is different from that of a recurve or traditional bow, so inevitably, the draw peak of this kind of bow is distinct too. The reason is, compound bows have a let-off. Due to this, the weight cannot be measured at full draw. In this case, we would have to find a point on the bow, where the draw weight of the compound bow is the highest. This point can vary from compound bow to compound bow, although, often, the point is located in the middle of the draw.  

Measuring your Draw Weight

Now that you know what draw weight is, and where exactly this weight can be measured both in the case of the traditional and recurve bows and compound bows, let’s understand the method of measuring draw weight, in each of these cases. You may want to check our guide on recurve vs compound bow, which might help you understand more the differences in details.

Traditional and Recurve Bows

The method of measuring the draw weight in cases of traditional and recurve bows is similar. Here’s how to measure draw weight in traditional and recurve bows.

Step 1: Grab a measuring device such as a bow or draw weight scale, and attach it to the bow. Now, hold the device. Do not hold the bow itself. (1)

Step 2: Draw the bow to your anchor point, then take the bow a little further than that due to the presence of the hook between the string and your fingers. 

Step 3: Keep the bow drawn, and ask someone else to read the figures on the scale, which would display the draw weight of your bow. 

Step 4: Note the measurement down on a piece of paper. Repeat this exercise a few times to ensure that you reach a near accurate figure. Note the measurement each time. (2)

Step 5: Calculate the average of all the measurements to ascertain the draw weight. 

Voila, you’ve now successfully managed to measure the draw weight in a recurve or a traditional bow. 

Compound Bow

While it was quite simple to measure the draw weight in a recurve and traditional bow, in a compound bow, doing the same is a bit difficult due to the intricate construction of this weapon. To measure the compound bow’s draw weight, you would need a spring scale or a luggage scale. Here is how to take measurements. 

Step 1: Grab the draw weight scale you want to use, and attach the same to the bow. Hold the device. 

Step 2: Keep drawing the bow back until you can sense the let-off. Take an inch back if you sense the weight of the draw decrease.

Step 3: Hold the position of the bow, and ask someone to read the measurements on the scale. Note down the measurements. 

Step 4: Repeat the exercise a few times and record all the measurements. Each time you draw the bow, make slight tweaks to the draw length. 

Step 5: Once you’ve drawn a few times, and you can’t go higher than the highest draw weight you’ve recorded,  you’ve reached the accurate draw weight of the compound bow. This is the figure that you’ve been trying to measure.

It can be a little tricky to reach the precise draw weight, as you’d have to draw the bow multiple times, but you would eventually achieve your objective, and it’ll be worth it.   

Actual vs Default Draw Weight

There are two kinds of draw weight measurements, the actual and the default. It’s important to know about each for better clarity. The prime difference between the two is that one is the standard, while the other can vary from archer to archer. 

Default Draw Weight

The default draw weight of a bow is what you are told the weight of the draw is. It will usually be written in the specification section of the product description. The default draw weight helps you to compare different types of bows based on their draw weight. It is measured at 28 inches, irrespective of the size and type of the bow.

This metric can help in buying new limbs for your bow. You could upgrade your 30 lb limbs to 34 lbs if you want to increase the bow’s draw weight. Although the 30 lbs don’t exactly speak of the draw weight, to compute that, you would also have to consider the draw length of the weapon. If the draw length is longer, then the draw weight would be higher too. 

Actual Draw Weight

In contrast to the default draw weight, which is pre-set, the actual draw weight differs from archer to archer. This weight is ascertained when the draw is pulled back. To measure this draw weight, you would also need to measure the draw length of the bow, so it is not an ideal metric for comparison with other bows.

However, it would help you while selecting the arrows you need for your shooting and hunting sessions. Once you unbox your bow, measure the actual draw weight to get a deeper insight into the specifications of your bow. 

Compound Archery

A compound bow is different from recurve or a traditional bow in many ways, but the above-mentioned bits of information apply to this bow as well. With the increase in the draw length of the bow, the draw weight increases as well.

The difference between the compound bow and other bows is that it has the let-off, due to which, at the end of the draw, the draw weight decreases. Measuring the draw weight of the compound bow can prove to be beneficial in more ways than one. 

How to Predict your Actual Draw Weight

To get the ideal arrows for your bow, you would have to measure the draw weight. You can predict the actual draw weight of your bow using a simple technique. But first, you would have to measure the draw length of your bow. You can use the table below to measure it, in cases of recurve bow use, but not with a compound bow because of different structures.  

Step 1: Measure draw length of the bow 

Step 2: Check the factor in the below table

Step 3: Now multiply it by the default draw weight of the bow

Draw LengthPercentageFactor

Why Draw Weight is an Important Metric?

If you want to improve your shot accuracy, you would have to gain insight into the draw weight of your bow. Here are a few reasons why the draw weight is a vital metric in Archery.

Arrow Speed

The heavier the draw weight, the faster the arrow would fly. It can lead to more wind resistance, more stability in the arrow flight, and decreased arrow drop. 

Draw Strength

Having the ideal Draw strength is important if you want to shoot an arrow accurately, otherwise, you will struggle with the heavy draw weight. This is why it is important to get a bow whose draw weight you can comfortably manage. If you shoot with heavier draw weight, your overall technique would decline as a result. Then even if you decrease the draw weight, you’d experience a blow to your performance. 

Arrow Spine

We mentioned before that the draw weight of a bow can help you choose the ideal arrows for your needs. Heavy draw weights best go with stiff arrows, while low draw weights are more suitable with flexible ones. This is where the arrow spine comes into the picture. Arrow spine refers to the degree of flexibility of an arrow. If you want to shoot the arrow accurately, it’s imperative to match your bow’s draw weight and the arrow’s spine. Thus, whenever you go out to buy new arrows, make sure that you measure the draw weight of your bow. This way, you won’t make a mistake in buying the arrows. 

(1) measuring device –
(2) paper –