Proper draw length: Why it's important

Proper draw length: Why it's important

Below is an article from Elite Pro shooter Nathan Brooks on how to determine draw length and what goes into it. Just as he says in his article, to get an approximate length is pretty simple, but there is more to it than just wingspan divided by 2.5 and that is where we come in to help shooters out. These differences can be from how each shooter holds and anchors a bow, the manufacture of the bow, and the bows Axle to Axle length. Every year we end up changing many new customers draw length and anchor points to allow for a more consistent and natural shooting position in which they have seen an increase in their performance.

The shooters draw length coupled with the appropriate length D-loop for their release and hand size (d-loop length does not change your draw length) will maximize their anchor points on their nose and jaw line to give them the most consistent groups. It will also allow the shooter's body position/form to be in proper alignment for a clean release and follow through. If the draw length is too short the support shoulder will tend to rotate out of the socket, cause an exaggerated bend in the elbow which can lead to inconsistencies, or the shooter ducking their head towards the string to find the peep sight. If the draw length is too long then the shooters elbow will be overextended and will tend to get caught up in the path of the string which will effect the shot. Too long of a draw length will also put the string past the proper anchor points on the shooters face. 

The more concrete anchor points we can stack in our favor with the proper shooting form the better chance there is of making consistent and accurate shots time after time, because consistency = accuracy. As always this is only one small piece of the equation in which we will continue to chip away at.  If you would like to know more about proper draw length and/or anchor points stop on in the store and let us check.

How do I know if I am shooting the correct draw length?

The answer is simple - yet complex. 

Before we go much further, I must advise the reader that these methods of determining draw length are for compound bow shooters using a release and a 1” string loop.  

There are couple of different methods that work well for determining your exact draw length.  The Calculated Draw Length method is the simplest way to find draw length.   It has been used for many years by archery shops across the country and around the world.

Calculated Draw Length is measuring the armspan of an archer then dividing it by 2.5. 

To measure armspan accurately, put your back against a wall and stretch your arms out as wide as possible. Have a friend take two small pieces of masking tape and stick them against the wall where the tips of your middle fingers end. Take the measurement of the length between the pieces of masking tape to find your armspan. Once the length is determined, divide the number by 2.5 and round up to the nearest 1/2”.  For example, if your armspan width is 73”, dividing by 2.5 will yield 29.2, and rounded to the nearest half inch will be 29.5” (which will be your estimated draw length).

If you are new to archery, this method is fantastic! I have used this to help many people purchase their first bow and get started on the right path to good and proper form. 

However, I have found that many archers shoot more accurately at lengths that do not necessarily match this method. It sounds confusing, but as in all things archery, this is where the answer gets more complex. 

Archery is a learned discipline. Repeating a process exactly the same over and over are the requirements for accurately hitting the target. That is the goal - to hit the mark every time without fail. Since I compete on a professional scale, I have the opportunity to shoot and collaborate with some of the best archery minds in the world.  These shooters use every advantage they possibly can to be the best and repeat their process time and time again.  I’ve found that the Calculated Draw Length method gets them close to where they want to be, but ultimately, they micro-adjust their draw length to find their most comfortable hold position. This can only be determined through lots of shooting, practice, and competition to find what feels best.

The way a bow feels at full draw and its let-off can affect the draw length as well. If I am shooting a bow that has low let-off, then I typically use a shorter draw length than a bow with high let-off.  Also, I’ve noticed that using a cable stop on a bow versus one using a limb stop requires me to use a slightly shorter length.

In its truest form, archery is about feel, how the grip the feels, how the bow feels when it is drawn, how the anchor point feels, how the bow feels when it is shot, and how the follow through feels after the shot.  Feeling is incredibly important.  When all things are working properly together, including the draw length, an archer will have their best chance to feel all of these factors work together successfully. 

There is no substitute for good practice and training.  Knowing that you and your equipment are fitting together for peak performance will give you the most confidence in your ability to hit the mark every time.  And ultimately, that is the goal!    


Written by Elite Pro Shooter Nathan Brooks

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  • Brandon Miedema
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