What’s your draw length? Are you sure? How do you know? We will begin to answer those questions today.
Even if you think you know what your draw length is, I encourage you to read this post (and the next one) with an open mind. The number of archers and bowhunters that I see shooting a bow with an incorrect draw length is astounding. That’s not to say anything bad about those shooters; after all, they’re probably just doing what they’ve been told to do.
The fact is, you can shoot a bow that is too short or long in draw length, but your form, comfort, and accuracy will suffer. If we want to be more accurate archers, and more effective bowhunters, then it’s critical that we shoot a bow that’s setup with our ideal draw length.
Measuring Your Draw Length
A good archery pro shop can find your draw length and help set you up with a bow that fits you. But sometimes even archery shops have a “that’s close enough” mindset, and don’t measure people properly.
Thankfully, there are several easy ways that you can measure your draw length at home, with the help of a friend. Let’s look at the methods, and then we’ll discuss the differences and see which one is most accurate.
1) Wingspan / 2.5
This method is no doubt the most popular. Begin by standing up straight, and extending (but don’t over-stretch) your arms out to the side, so that they are in line with one another at shoulder height. Have your friend measure your wingspan – from the tip of one middle finger to the other – and then divide that number by 2.5.
2) (Wingspan – 15) / 2
This is a variation on the previous method, but instead of dividing your wingspan by 2.5, you subtract 15 from your wingspan and then divide that number by 2.
3) Buttons to Base
In this method you once again stand straight up and extend one arm out at shoulder level. However, this time you’re looking to measure from the center of your chest – the spot where you would button-up a dress shirt – out to the end of your wrist, below the palm.
4) Fist to Mouth
Get near a wall and pretend that you’re holding a bow. Stand with full-draw form and make a fist with the hand that would be holding the imaginary bow. Scoot up to the wall so that your fist is now touching the wall and you are still in a natural “full draw” form. Then, with good posture and shooting form, focus your eyes on your fist and have someone measure from the top of your fist to the corner of your mouth.
Which Method Is Most Accurate?
My results from the 4 measurements are…
It’s interesting to me that the first two methods involve a finger-to-finger wingspan, but your fingers have nothing to do with your draw length. Someone with short or long fingers could have their numbers skewed by the wingspan measurements, but this method still seems quite accurate for most folks that try it.
The “buttons to base” measurement doesn’t involve the fingers/hand length and is an easy way to measure. The final method, “fist to mouth”, makes a ton of sense, but I have found that it’s hard for some people to use proper form and posture, which can dramatically skew the results.
If I average all of my results together, I get 30.6”. I have been shooting a 30” draw length for several years, but accounted for a little extra length with the way that my release and d-loop have been setup. I recently tuned one of my bows out to 30.25”, which felt great. I also have a 30.5” bow on order, and I am anxious to see how that feels.
My recommendation to new archers would be to try all of the methods mentioned above, and average all of the results. For you archers and bowhunters that have been shooting a while, I suggest having someone take some photos of you shooting and then analyze your form for indicators that your draw length is correct, or needs to be adjusted one way, or another. That’s exactly what we will do in the next post…