Draw Length is the distance from the nock point to the throat of the grip plus 1 3/4". Typically, this length will also be about the same length of arrow needed by the compound archer.
To measure your draw length, stand with your back to a wall stretching your arms out against the wall. Measure the distance from the end of your middle finger to the end of your other middle finger, basically the length of both arms, hands and chest. This measurement, minus 15 then divided by 2, is your draw length.
Resist the temptation to make your draw length longer than it should be, as this will affect your accuracy.
Your wingspan typically is the same as your height in inches. So your height in inches minus 15 and then divided by 2 will be your draw length, or at least a very good starting point. Just use our handy dandy draw length calculator at the top of this page.
Will a string loop change my draw length?
Since the draw length is the distance from the nock point to the throat of the grip plus 1 3/4", adding a string loop cannot change the bow's draw length. BUT, it will change your anchor point moving it back 1/2" to 3/4". This will make it feel like your draw length is longer. If you want your same anchor point, then you will need to shorten the bow's draw length by about a 1/2" to move your anchor point back up to your preference.
Draw Weight is the peak amount of weight an archer will pull while drawing the bow. With a traditional bow, the draw weight continues to increase as the bow is drawn. A compound bow will increase to the peak weight, and then drop in weight to the holding weight. The holding weight is typically 20-30% of the peak weight. So a 60# compound bow will only hit 60# for period in the draw cycle, and then will drop down to perhaps a 15# holding weight at anchor. This allows the archer to hold on target much longer than a traditional bow, whose archer would be holding the full 60#s. High performance bows will stay at this peak weight longer during the draw cycle thus storing more energy but typically creating a harsher draw cycle.
Compound bows are adjustable over a 10 to 15 # range. The weight listed is with the limbs bottomed out, or at the maximum peak weight. So a bow listed at 70#'s is adjustable from 60-70#, and sometimes 55-70#.
A new archer will be able to pull about 10 pounds more weight with a few weeks of regular practice as previously little used muscles gain strength.
Use this chart to see typical draw weights:
|Small child 50-70 lbs||10-15 lbs|
|Child 70-100 lbs||15-25 lbs|
|Most women, boys from 100 - 130 lbs||30-40 lbs|
|Women above average strength; youth boys 130 - 150 lbs||40-50 lbs|
|Most men 150-180 lbs Target||40-55 lbs|
|Most men 150-180 lbs Bowhunting or 3D||50-65 lbs|
|Muscular young men and larger men 180 lbs and up||60-70 lbs|
Resist the temptation to pull too much draw weight. It isn't fun to shoot when drawing the bow is a struggle. It also is not good for your shoulders and other joints. Bowhunters will find they may not be able to draw their bow in cold weather or sitting in awkward positions. A modern 60# compound is capable of killing any North American big game, from elk to moose and certainly more than capable of taking deer.