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Finding your Draw Length for longbows and recurves.

Finding your Draw Length for longbows and recurves.


Finding your draw length is very important for new archers. Without it would be like buying shoes without knowing your shoe size. At Natural Archer we have simplified the process for people buying bows, and with our many years of experience we can match a bow to an archer many times just by the description of the person, and we also leave room for the bow to be overdrawn enough to make up for the fact some people have a longer draw length than they thought. As long as the bow can handle a little bit longer of a draw length, and was made well enough and slightly longer than it need to be the bows from Natural Archer will be fine, but the actual weight will now change.

When it comes to arrows it is a different story, a ideal arrow for a longbow is based on the actual ammo length, type of bow, draw weigh, the tips, the usage and gets very particular for ideal shooting. There is something called the archers paradox that we will talk about later in another article, but you have to picture a arrow has to slightly bend around the bow with just the right resistance, the arrows length the weight of an arrow, among other things.

It is important to know your draw length, but sometimes people are buying a bow and arrow set as a surprised gift to someone who has never shot an arrow in their life, in this case as us to help figure this out. Luckily a nice bow and a set of arrows that is not to short but slightly long can be shot with much accuracy as the archer gets used to the set up, I have a selection of arrows that I use now and then of different Native Canadian designs, I adjust my aim for the arrows and this does make a challenge but I can easily switch between different types of arrows just buy knowing their characteristics, I even have some arrows I enjoy shooting that are made from ocean spray shoots or bamboo that I have had for many years that are not close to straight, I mark them with markings that tell me, this arrow goes slightly left or right, this arrow point over the target, I love to amaze my friends with this time honed skill of shooting very crooked arrows from a distance and still nailing the target, I think this obsession with wanting to shoot crooked things started as a young child with a hand-me-down daisy BB gun with a crooked barrel.

Finding your Proper Draw Length

Unfortunately there are many opinions of the best method to figuring this out.

The problem is every single one of us is unique, we might not even realize we have a unique feature, some of us have shorter or longer arms on average compared to their chest, some have slightly long fingers or smaller forearms. We all have our own natural way of holding a bow, even if an archery instructor will tell you there is only one position animal stance, it is my opinion this may be correct for straight target shooting, where repeating the exact same movements creates better and better accuracy, I agree for most people, but there is contradictions to ever part of it.

Much like their is bowlers who use the “wrong” fingers with their ball, or for instance the one armed drummer from Def Leopard breaking all drumming rules, the same holds true for archers, some of us have small wrists, our legs may be different, there is even archers missing one of their fingers or even whole limbs, and this doesn’t stop them from becoming excellent archers. Many times the dedication to their practice and their passion will overcome all obstacles and let them out shoot their peers.

So I could go on all day about draw lengths, what about that West Coast paddle bow I shoot instinctively to my waste, or totally ignoring posture as I shot laying on the ground, or how about that mini assassin bow I play around with, or how about that monster english war bow drawn past my ear where I can barely stand the strain on my shoulder when I attempt my anchor point ? But the fact remains, most of us will shoot to a that solid anchor point at the bottom of our jaw with the string by our cheek, even with our English Yew Longbows, we want to get accurate and the best way is to be regular.

Using another bow

Some sporting goods shops charge over $20 to perform this simple procedure, I know archery shops need income to stay open for the days you will need them, but it seems a bit excessive to me, I would almost say it should be free.

Method #1 (With long arrow)

The best way to find your draw length is simple, draw a bow with a longer possible draw than you have, with longer arrows and have a friend mark where the spot where the arrow is at the back of the bow (side of the bow facing the target), that is your draw length, now add an extra 1 3/4″, that is the length of arrow you should get. If you can, shot the arrow many times and have make sure you are holding the bow in the “correct” position just to be sure you aren’t slouching or your arm isn’t to far extended.

Method #2 (Without Arrow)

Draw a light bow and measure the distance from the string at full draw to the back of the bow ( again, the “back” of the bow is the side away from the archer). This will take another person to help you.

Using Math and Measurements

using arm-span to find our draw length for longbow

measure from middle finger to middle finger.

Calculating Draw length for archery


another calculation for draw length longbow

Lots of people go by these measurements, and they can be pretty close to accurate, myself I would recommend using each method and then finding the average of them, and using that. If using the “using another bow” method is used, bellow may not be necessary. Wingspan measurement divided by 2.5 or Maybe take these into account and find the average. Confused yet ? We have one more method that some people swear by, to be honest I wonder about this one, but here goes.

Using a Yard Stick

Take a Yard Stick at and place one end on the chest, just down from the throat. Now extend your arm as far out as possible down the yard stick, as if you were clapping your hands, now the reading at the very end of the middle finger plus an inch is the archers rough draw length.


I hope this has helped you, please keep in mind that these are always rough measurements and nothing beats an actual bow and arrow, and also that you draw length, your ammo length will be just under 2″ longer than this, a slightly longer arrow than your draw length will seldom be a problem, an arrow shorter than your draw length of course is a big problem and can be dangerous. Natural Archer is always happy to help you find the perfect setup, and we don’t charge a penny. Thanks for reading this article.



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