How to Measure Recurve Bow Draw Length for Optimum Performance

How to Measure Recurve Bow Draw Length for Optimum Performance?

While drawing your bow, are you constantly feeling a strain in your arms or shoulder muscles or maybe hitting your arms on the string? If so, then the reason might be that you don’t have the perfect draw length required for you.

My coach used to say that the draw length of a bow is like a pair of shoes. If they are too short or too big for you, it is a big inconvenience. Similarly, for draw length, you need to know how to measure draw length for recurve bow to learn archery without any inconvenience.

Don’t worry; the ways of finding it are not that complicated at all, and you don’t need help from any experts either. You just need to follow the steps thoroughly and should see a significant amount of difference and improvement in your shots and form with the correct draw length.

Methods of Measuring Recurve Bow Draw Length

There are two effective ways of how to measure draw length recurve bows easily. One is using a bow, and the other is by measuring your arm span. I have found both to be equally effective so let us get started!

Method One: Using a Bow

If you have access to a bow, then you can measure the recurve draw length you require to get the optimum performance while shooting.

This method is established by ATA or Archery Trade Association. According to them, your true draw length will be the total distance covered starting from the string’s nocking point to the bow’s pivot point, then adding 1 ¾ inch.

I know that all sounds a bit complicated, so let me explain what you have to do step by step to measure bow draw length.

  1. Draw the bow without the arrow holding your proper shooting form.
  2. Now let another person measure the distance from the nock groove or where the string meets the nock groove up to the pivot point or the middle point of the bow where you are gripping it.
  3. Measure the distance in inches and then add 1 ¾ inch to it. That is your draw length.


  • If you don’t have a proper shooting form yet, then this method will not work for you. To get accurate results, drawing the bow with a shooting form is essential.
  • When measuring, don’t measure beyond where the bowstring meets the nocking groove.
  • Be careful not to dry fire the bow in the process.
  • Make sure your arms are in alignment with the drawn bow, or else you will get a false reading.

Method Two: Measuring Your Arm Span

This is a very common and much easier method of calculating draw length. Plus, if you don’t own or have access to a bow or you are a beginner, then this is the method for you.

Here are the steps to follow:

  1. Stand with both your arms spread at a shoulder height against the wall with your back to it. Make sure your palms are visible or perpendicular to the wall.
  2. Don’t extend your chest or tense your muscles too much. Try to stand in that position as naturally as possible.
  3. Now let another person mark the total distance. To make sure it is accurate, stick a piece of tape on both ends of your arms close to the tip of your middle finger.
  4. Once that step is done, you can move away. Now take a measuring tape and measure the total distance in inches following the marks made by the tape.
  5. Take that measurement and divide the number by 2.5 for determining draw length. The result is your proper draw length.


  • You can also straight-up measure the distance using a measuring tape without marking the areas.
  • It is better if your draw length is a whole number, so if your final result is, for example, 48.9 inches, then you need to count it as 49 inches instead of for the correct draw length.
  • If you are measuring the draw length to buy your first recurve bow, then make sure to check the recurve bow draw length chart and check the recommended bow size for your draw length to find the perfect bow for you.

Frequently Asked Questions

Does draw length matter recurve bows?

You can still get away with using a big or short recurve bow for you without major consequences. However, your accuracy will take a big hit, and not to mention a bigger bow or draw length measurement will strain your arms in practice.

So yes, if you want the best experience and performance, then finding a draw length that is right for you is necessary.

How do I know if my draw length is too long?

There are quite a few indicators that tell you your draw length is too long.

Some indicators could be if you are hitting your arms constantly with the string when drawing, the draw length goes past your ear, etc., to be sure you can follow the measuring arm span method to see if it too long for you or not.

How do I shorten my recurve bow draw length?

To shorten the draw length, you need to modify your brace height. Start by untwisting the strings or cables; this will drop your brace height and grow ATA (Axle-To-Axle). This way, you are also losing draw weight and dropping draw length.

For further shortening the draw length, use grip tape around the bow grip area. This does the same job of reducing the brace height. Use as much as you need to reach the perfect draw length you want. Remember, you can’t just use grip tape to shorten your draw length.

How to adjust draw length on a recurve bow?

If your draw length feels too short or too long, the best way to change it is by getting a new recurve bow.

Other than that, you can adjust by trying to fix your body alignment when shooting, which is ideally keeping your shoulder and arms in alignment with the arrow. You can also change the position or place you rest your hand while drawing to adjust the draw length.

Final Words

I hope you understood how to measure draw length for recurve bow. Both the processes are very easy and should take you less than three minutes to find out. After finding out your draw length, it is up to you to practice to perfect your skill.

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