Choose Your Correct Bow Draw Weight - My Archery Corner

Choose Your Correct Bow Draw Weight

A young man aiming with a compound bow.

Author: Moritz
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Knowing the correct bow draw weight is one of the most important things in archery.
Too many new archers are trying to shoot with a bow that is too strong for them.

Do yourself a favor and read through my article to learn how to choose your correct bow draw weight.
This will save you a lot of frustration, pain, and money!


What Is Bow Draw Weight?

correct draw weight

Used under creative commons from: Pyb

The draw weight of your bow means generally how strong your bow is.
It tells you how much force or strength you need to use to pull back the string of your bow into full draw.

Traditionally, the draw weight is measured in pounds. That makes it easy to compare bows, no matter where you live.
Instead of using the short form “lb” we usually use “lbs” or “LBS” to show how much draw weight a bow has.


Why Is It So Important?

It is crucial to know how much draw weight you can and should use to become a great archer.

If your bow is too weak, you are likely to overdraw it and it simply might be too easy for you to draw it.
You won’t really profit from all the health benefits archery has to offer.

But please be aware of this:

It is always better to use a bow that is too light than one that is too heavy!

Using a bow that is too strong can have really bad consequences:

  • Injuries to your body
  • Bad archery technique
  • No fun

The first is very obvious.
Trying to draw a bow that is too heavy can cause serious injuries, especially to your back.
When your body can’t come up with the strength needed to draw and hold the draw weight of the bow, something might snap (worst-case scenario).
Even if it doesn’t go that far, you will suffer from sore muscles, and in the long term your back won’t be able to handle the stress.

The second point is very important, too!
Using a bow you can’t draw fully will result in getting used to the wrong archery techniques.
If you went through my archery training, you know that finding the right anchor is one of the vital steps of archery.
But how can you draw the string back far enough to find your anchor point if your bow is too strong? For that, you need to reach your face.
You also won’t be able to aim when your whole body is shaking to hold the draw weight.
I think you agree with me, that a bow with too much draw weight will hinder you from learning the right techniques!

Last but not least comes the fun:
Archery should be a fun activity and not something that causes you a lot of pain or frustration.
Why do something that seems way too difficult without offering any rewards and joy?
A bow with a draw weight that is too strong for you will make you give up archery very quickly.
Trust me on that one!


What To Do When In Doubt?

Especially when you are completely new to archery and want to start shooting in your backyard it can be difficult to find the correct draw weight.
When in doubt, choose a draw weight that seems almost too easy to draw.
Remember that you need to pull the string back until your hand reaches your face.
When you can do that and still hold it for a few seconds without shaking or getting tired, then the draw weight is okay for you.

Don’t try to show off and use a 50 LBS bow when you are just getting started.
Even when it seems that another archer who looks weaker than yourself can handle it. The strength of an archer comes from the back and experience!
If you know the right technique you can draw a stronger bow than someone inexperienced with the same body build.
But as a beginner you don’t know how to do it and the muscles you need for it are most likely untrained.

The following recommendations can help you find the right draw weight depending on your age.
They might seem a bit low, but I explained above why it is better to start with a weaker bow before you can try and use a stronger bow.

  • Recurve bows for beginners (kids and adults with normal or weak body build):
    Age 8 – 10:      10 – 12 LBS
    Age 11 – 13:    10 – 14 LBS
    Age 14 – 17:    12 – 16 LBS
    Age 18 – 20:    16 – 22 LBS
    Adult Women:  16 – 26 LBS
    Adult Men:        22 – 28 LBS
  • Recurve bows for advanced (kids and adults with athletic or stronger body build):
    Age 8 – 10:      10 – 14 LBS
    Age 11 – 13:    12 – 18 LBS
    Age 14 – 17:    16 – 22 LBS
    Age 18 – 20:    18 – 26 LBS
    Adult Women:  22 – 32 LBS
    Adult Men:        26 – 38 LBS

A young man shooting with a recurve bow.

  • Compound bows for beginners:
    Age 8 – 12:      10 – 16 LBS
    Age 12 – 14:    14 – 22 LBS
    Age 15 – 17:    24 – 28 LBS
    Age 18 – 20:    26 – 36 LBS
    Adult Women:  26 – 36 LBS
    Adult Men:        40 – 50 LBS
  • Compound bows for advanced (kids and adults with athletic or stronger body build):
    Age 8 – 12:      18 – 20 LBS
    Age 11 – 14:    20 – 22 LBS
    Age 15 – 17:    24 – 30 LBS
    Age 18 – 20:    30 – 40 LBS
    Adult Women:  40 – 50 LBS
    Adult Men:        50 – 60 LBS

Please note that those numbers are based on experience and are not wild guesses.
I can’t stress enough that it is always better to start with a weaker bow than with a bow that is too strong.
This is not about pride or anything!
You want to become a good archer, don’t you?


Why Can I Use A Compound Bow With A Stronger Draw Weight?

You will have noticed that I wrote in my list that you can use stronger compound bows than recurve bows.
That is because of the way the compound bow will support the archer when drawing the bow.
There is the so-called “let off” kicking in when you start pulling the string back.
I talk more about that in my article “What Is A Compound Bow?”.
Learn all about it there.

But you can go wrong with a compound bow, too.
Watch this video to learn what it looks like when you are shooting a bow that has way too much draw weight (don’t try that at home):

Please don’t make a fool out of yourself! Instead, use a bow you can draw back without bending your back as crazy as that kid in the video.


Won’t I Need A Stronger Bow Soon?

When you get started with archery you first need to get used to the sport.
For that, you have to use a weaker bow, as explained above.

That also means that after a few months or a year, you will be able to shoot a stronger bow.
Now, not everybody has the money to buy a new bow every year.

For that reason many people, even archery trainers, choose or recommend a bow that you will be able to shoot with for the next few years.

Please don’t do that!

It is always better to borrow or rent a weaker bow if you don’t want to spend money on one.
Later when you are more experienced and can start shooting a stronger bow, you can buy one that will last for a few years.

There are however other options:


Get A Bow That Grows With You

Some compound bows have a very wide range of draw weights.
First, you set them on a low draw weight, and over time, when you get stronger and more experienced, you just adjust the draw weight of the bow.
One example of such a bow is the Bear Archery Apprentice III Compound Bow.
It is a fantastic bow and you just can’t get too strong for that bow!

Another really great compound bow, especially for youth archers, is the Genesis Original Kit.


Get A Takedown Recurve Bow

My second suggestion is to get a takedown recurve bow like the SAS Courage Takedown Recurve Bow.
Those bows have limbs (arms) that can be taken off and replaced by limbs that are stronger or weaker.
That way you don’t need to buy a new bow all the time when the draw weight gets too weak for your needs.


Some Final Thoughts About The Draw Weight

I think you have a good understanding now of why the correct bow draw weight is so important.
Using a bow that is too strong can and will ruin all the fun and you will never become a decent archer.
Just take a weaker one until you get used to and comfortable with archery.

If you are doing that, you will have a great future at the archery range or when bow hunting in the woods.

Moritz ImageNow let me know how you are doing at the moment!
Do you have the feeling that your bow is actually too strong for you?
Did your coach say that you should use a bow that will last you for the next few years?
Next time you see him, please say hello from me and tell him that this is nonsense!

Before I forget:
Not only the draw weight is crucial for your success in archery!
The right draw length is also very important to know.

I am looking forward to hearing from you!

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