Measuring Draw Length

AJ Iaquinta

We love the “what bow should I buy?” conversation and can talk bows and accessories for hours but before we get into hardware there are always a few things to discuss first. Budget is of course one of these items but just because you can afford a Lamborghini doesn’t mean you can fit in one. Bows are similar. Certain models are only offered in limited draw lengths and you should have a good understanding of yours before you start to shop.

Draw length is also the most essential piece of proper form. Have the wrong draw length and everything else becomes exponentially more difficult. Purchase a bow that is too short or too long and you’ll likely find it difficult to shoot accurately and consistently over long periods of time. This can quickly lead to frustration and less time behind the bow. We really love shooting our bows and we want you to also.   

So how do you measure draw length?

  1. Stand up straight
  2. Make a fist with the hand that would hold the riser of your bow.
  3. Extend that bow arm to the wall
  4. Turn your hand so that it and your elbow are at a 45 degree angle
  5. Measure from the wall to the corner of your mouth.

That is your draw length.

Seriously it is that simple. We have seen and tried several other methods but found this one easy and translates comfortably and accurately on an actual bow. One thing to keep in mind is that advertised draw lengths have tolerances of roughly ¾” so one manufacturers 28” draw might truly be closer to 29”. Moreover your draw length represents your final draw length i.e. including a D loop which usually adds between ½” and ¾” to your bows advertised draw length. For these reasons we recommend that when purchasing a bow select a model with at least ½”-1” of adjustability +/- your draw length. This will also afford you greater flexibility to experiment with different D loop lengths and release aids to achieve the most comfortable and repeatable anchor point.

Special thanks to John Dudley and Nock On TV for first introducing us to this method via their archery 101 video. We’ve imbedded that particular video below for easy reference. The draw length explanation starts at about 5:00.





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