How To Measure Draw Length On A Bow (7 Easy Steps)

By Andy Ryan


Updated at
man in white aiming his bow

Determining bow draw length can be confusing for many archers, but understanding it is essential for a good archer to become a great one. It controls the power of your shot, how much it will drop at long range, and the arrow speed.

The draw length of a bow is the distance between the string and the nock of an arrow when it is held to full draw.

The Archery Trade Association (ATA) determines the draw length by measuring the distance between the nocking point and the pivot point of the bow, which is the deepest part of the grip plus one inch and three-quarters.

Below we will be going through how to fully understand how to determine your proper draw length and have the perfect posture.

Understanding Draw Length

Bow draw length is the length you draw back the string for comfortable and proper shooting form. This measurement is significant because compound bows have a mechanical stop that calibrates to a correct draw length.

This length is the distance from the front of the Berger hole, where the arrow rest attaches to the riser, to the string’s corner or angle.

The draw length of a bow is commonly listed alongside its other specifications somewhere on the equipment. However, it is always a good idea to measure draw length to be sure.

What is a Bow Full Draw?

The term “full draw” typically refers to the point in the shot when the archer has completed drawing the bow to reach their anchor position. Any archer, however, can appear at “full draw” by simply pulling the bow and placing their hand to the anchor spot. This is not a full draw; it is merely approaching anchor.

It’s significant to mention that compound bows are only shot from the full-draw position or with the bow drawn back until it stops. In an instance of a compound bow set for a 29″ draw length, you should draw it back and perform an adjusted draw length before shooting. You should never try to shoot from the middle of a power stroke.

Method #1: How to Calculate the Draw Length

I will be showing you some easy steps on how to measure archery draw length.

You may use a lightweight bow in this procedure.

  1. Pull the bow with a full draw.
  2. After that, ask someone to measure the length between your nocking point to your pivot point.
  3. Once you obtain the measurement, add an extra one and three-quarter inches, and that should give you your final draw length.

Another method is to make a proper T form. Raise your hands from your side straight up and bringing your release hand to your chest. Below is a step-by-step guide on how to do this method effectively:

1. It will be helpful if you stand firmly in front of a wall.
2. Raise one hand and make a fist towards the wall.

3. Scoot towards the wall while maintaining a fist in your hands. Then raise your release hand to your chest.
4. After that, face the wall. And ask someone to measure the length between the wall to the corner of your mouth. Take note of the measurement and that’s gonna get you your proper draw length.

How to the Calculate Draw Length

After you get the measurement, you should get your calculator because we will do some math.

To get your draw length, you will need to deduct 15 from your T form measurement, then divide it by 2:

Method #2: Standard ATA Draw Length

On a correctly drawn bow, the distance from the bowstring’s nock point to the pivot point of the grip + 1 3/4 inches (4.5cm). (1)

As the Archery Trade Association states that to get this measurement, you’ll need a bow that will readily draw to your approximate draw length, and you’ll need to pull it with proper technique.

As a result, it’s usually advisable to undertake it with an instructor or an experienced friend that has the necessary equipment. It is feasible to perform this measurement yourself if you have an appropriate bow and a ‘draw arrow.’

A draw arrow is a long arrow marked with distances that you can drawback. However, very few beginners will have access to this type of item and will also draw incorrectly.

How to Measure my Draw Length Without Overdoing It?

Without altering the bow’s mechanical configuration, you cannot draw back a 29″ bow to 30″ or 31″. The mechanical stop at full draw on most compound bows is quite firm. Once you reach the ending, it’s extremely tough to pull the bow back anymore.

So, apply 20 lb. of pressure to hold back. Never try to overdraw a bow past the mechanical stop forcefully. Draw your bow slowly and deliberately. Soon after reaching your bow’s full let-off, you will feel the impact on the wall. (2)

Determine Draw Length

A proper T formation is the foundation of core archery. A T formation is just raising your arms straight up from your sides and bringing your release hand to your chest. The position of your release hand will determine based on the type of release shoot you are using.

However, your “proper” draw length is the one that makes you the most relaxed and accurate. Whatever a chart, device, or expert says, if you shoot well at a specific draw length, that is your ideal draw length.

Arm Span Method

The arm span method is another reliable statistical tool to use. Arm span and draw length are approximations; they are not accurate measurements since they assume that all humans are equal. However, it is adequate for purchasing your first recurve bow because it operates effectively with a wide range of draw lengths.

Below are the procedures on how to find bow draw length using the arm span method:

  1. Calculate the size of your arm spread in inches.
  2. Stand with your arms outstretched and your palms facing forward. When measuring, do not stretch and stand normally.
  3. Measure the distance between the tips of one middle finger and the end of the other. Ask for the assistance of another person.
  4. Then divide that figure by 2.5.

 The quotient is your body size’s approximate draw length (in inches).

Measurement Table

Below is a table of measurements consisting of detailed numbers to help you out on how to measure your draw length:

Frequently Asked Questions

String Loop on Draw Length

Archers appear to be aware that a string loop represents an extra 1/2″ of draw length. However, the AMO/ATA draw length specifications refer to the actual bowstring at its nocking position, not the attachment point from where you draw it. They determine the official draw length of a compound bow by measuring the distance between the nocking point on the string and an imaginary point above the pivot point of the grip + 1.75 inches on a line perpendicular to the bow’s centerline.

The “Feel” of my Draw Length on String Loop

A string loop does not affect how the arrow’s nock meets the corner of your lip, but it moves your release hand about 1/2″ back on your face.

So does a string loop change the “feel” of your draw length? Yes, if it makes you “feel” like you have a greater draw length. If No, then it does not.

During the full draw, your anchor point comprises many essential reference points, which can be anything you want them to be. Common reference points include the nose to the string, the arrow nock to the corner of the mouth, the kisser button contacting the lip, the palm against the face, the knuckle in the ear, and so on.

(1) pivot point –
(2) mechanical –