For both archery and hunting, having the right bow is important. If you choose a compound bow, you’ll get one that has a lot more precision and accuracy than many other types of bows. Best of all, compound bows are versatile because you can use them for bow hunting, recreation, and even in competition.
The draw weight is another factor to consider when you’re shopping for the best bow. If you’ve wondered how to tell the draw weight of a compound bow, it isn’t as difficult as it might seem. As with other types of bows, there are recommendations for draw weight but before we get to that, let’s go over some basics.
What Is Draw Weight?
In simple terms, the draw weight of a bow is the amount of force you need to pull the bow. That number is usually measured in pounds and it changes depending on the type of bow and the size of the person operating it.
With some bows, including re-curve bows and longbows, the standard is taken at 28 inches of draw length. In fact, if you look at the lower limb of the bow, you’ll see a number with a pound sign symbol (#) and a line like this: 35# @ 28”. That means that when you draw at a 28-inch length, you get 35 pounds of draw weight.
Compound bows, on the other hand, usually have a set draw weight. This means that a compound bow with a 50-pound draw weight at 28 inches will remain that way even if you adjust it to 26 inches. Of course, a good bow technician can adjust the bow to different draw weights and bows have about a 10-pound adjustment range as a general rule.
Put another way, for compound bows, the draw weight is measured to the wall, not to a standard 28 inches. This means that when you’re trying to get the most energy from your compound bow, much of it will depend on your draw length. If your draw length is longer, then more energy will be transferred to the arrow and vice versa.
Of course, even draw weight measured to the wall can vary somewhat because a lot of it depends on how well you can hold the same anchor point each time you shoot.
How to Tell the Draw Weight of a Compound Bow
As a general rule, there are two main ways to tell the draw weight of your compound bow. They are:
- The tag or sticker on the limb of the bow, which will give you an exact number
- Take your bow to an archery shop and let the technician help you determine the right number
But, if you’d like to measure the draw weight of your compound bow yourself, you can do that as well and it’s a lot simpler than you think. The first thing that you’ll need is a scale that is designed to measure draw weight. They come in both digital and manual types. Make sure that the scale has a hook and a way to read the draw weight once you get the bow to a full draw.
The hook is the most important part of the scale because without it, the task of measuring draw weight would be much more cumbersome. Hook the scale directly on the string, or D-loop, of your bow, then pull the string until it gets to your anchor point. Next, read the number on the scale.
But it doesn’t stop there. To get the most accurate number, you have to do this a total of three times, making sure that you record all three numbers. When you’re done, figure out the average of the three numbers and that’s what the draw weight will be.
Recommended Draw Weights
If you research recommended draw weights for different types of bows, you’ll eventually come upon a chart with recommended weights for people of different ages, sizes, and genders. Each chart may vary slightly from the previous one but below is a good scale to follow most of the time:
- Children 55 to 70 pounds: draw weight of 10 to 15 pounds
- Children 70 to 100 pounds: draw weight of 15 to 20 pounds
- Children 100 to 130 pounds: draw weight of 25 to 35 pounds
- Small-framed women 100 to 130 pounds: draw weight of 25 to 35 pounds
- Medium-framed women 130 to 160 pounds: draw weight of 30 to 40 pounds
- Large-framed women 160 pounds and over: draw weight of 45 to 50 pounds
- Small-framed men 120 to 150 pounds: draw weight of 45 to 50 pounds
- Medium-framed men 150 to 180 pounds: draw weight of 45 to 55 pounds
- Large-framed men 180 pounds and over: draw weight of 65 to 75 pounds
You should also keep in mind that most compound bows have draw weights of between 45 and 70 pounds while for traditional bows, the number is between 15 and 55 pounds. Naturally, the numbers above aren’t always going to be exact because each person is going to be different. In fact, you can’t completely personalize these numbers.
You can, however, get a general idea of what draw weight is recommended for your size and gender so it can provide you with a starting point if nothing else.
Why Is Draw Weight So Important?
When you’re operating a compound or other type of bow, everything works together to produce the results that you want. For instance, your draw weight will work together with the cam design and the weight of your arrow to determine the speed of that arrow. The type of arrow you choose — light or heavy — also affects your results.
In short, using a bow and being successful at it is similar to putting together pieces of a puzzle. If one piece is missing, it can ruin the results that you were trying to achieve. Draw weight is just one piece of the puzzle you need to get right to be happy in the end. You’re going to want to shoot that target head-on, whether it’s a live target or not so all of these things working together is the best way to do just that.