How to Measure Draw Length on a Compound Bow

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Most archers tend to shoot with draw lengths that are too long for their arms. However, youth hunters tend to have growth spurts that cause the draw length to increase. As such, it is important to learn how to measure draw length on a compound bow.

In doing so, you are sure that you have the proper length, making it a little easier on yourself to aim and shoot true. It is important to do this before you go out hunting or go to your local archery range.

What Is Draw Length?

The draw length is the distance from your full draw at the nocking point on your string to the pivoting point on the bow grip plus another 1.75 inches. It is important to determine draw length if you plan to use a compound or recurve bow to increase the accuracy of your shot.

If you’ve ever gone into the field or to the range with someone who complains about pain in the arms after a few shots. This would be a good indication that the draw length is incorrect. Along with such, shooting with the wrong draw length can cause other injuries as well.

What’s more, shooting with the wrong draw length can force you to have inaccurate shots. The shooter is struggling with the improper length, so they are likely to learn form incorrectly. The drawstring could also come back to hit the archer.

What Happens If the Draw Length Is Too Long or Too Short?

If the draw length is too short or too long, it can cause different issues. If too short, it will be harder to maintain the reference points for the best shot. It also increases the bow’s torque, which causes inconsistency.

If your draw length is too long, the sight of the bow isn’t going to be accurate. Plus, you’ll likely have to overreach your shot, which results in bad back posture. The back could start hurting after just a few shots. Also, your elbow is likely to get in the string’s path, which can lead to a painful injury.

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How to Measure Draw Length on a Compound Bow

While you can go to the store and ask them to measure your draw length, some salespeople don’t do it right or don’t know what they’re doing. It’s also quite easy to do it yourself, which can save you a lot of time.

You’ll find four different methods for measuring draw length. In a sense, you should use all four and then average out the results to get your draw length. Make sure to write each number down.

Method 1

The first method is also the easiest to do. If you’re measuring draw length for a child, it might be best to mark everything on a wall. You can both see how wingspan changes with time, and it will make it much easier to record and not lose the information. Along with such, you may need to measure their draw length more often because they’ll continue to grow.

Make sure you stand up straight. It can help to stand against a wall and ensure that you are in excellent posture. Raise your arms to the side, keeping the palms parallel with the floor. Make sure your shoulders are back and down while your head is up and parallel with the floor.

Next, ask a friend to measure the distance from your right middle finger to your left middle finger. Then, divide that number by 2.5 to get your draw length.

Method 2

While this method is similar to the first one, it might be a little more accurate. However, some people get the same numbers regardless.

Make sure you’re standing up straight. Then, raise your arms out straight to shoulder level with the palms facing downward. Ask a friend to stick painter’s tape on the wall in line with your left middle fingertip and the right middle fingertip.

Measure the distance between those marks with a tape measure, subtract 15 from that number, and divide your answer by two.

Method 3

If you dislike math, this method might be a little easier for you, and it can be just as accurate as the other two methods.

Find a button-down shirt to fit you comfortably without being tight in the shoulders or waist. Stand against a wall with enough room so that you’re comfortable. Extend your dominant arm to the side and make a fist. Ask a friend to measure the space from the wrist to the top button of your shirt.

Method 4

With this method, you will need to pretend that you’re shooting a bow. This can be the hardest method to use because you might find it a challenge to get into the right position. However, this can also be the most accurate method if you can do it.

Stand close to a wall, but make sure you’re about an arm’s length from it. Stretch your arm in front as if you were holding the bow. Form your outstretched hand into a fist and double your other arm backward toward the face as if you were planning to shoot the bow.

While holding that pose, ask a friend to measure the space between the outstretched fist and mouth.

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Put It All Together

You will now have four measurements. If you couldn’t do method four because you couldn’t get the right positioning, you can do method one, two, or three again.

Once you’re done, add all four numbers and then divide that number by four. This new number is your draw length. You may want to double check your math and measurements, as well.


It is important to know how to measure draw length on a compound bow. Even if it was professionally measured at the shop when you bought the bow. After all, this number is going to affect other things, such as arrow length.

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