SETTING THE BOW'S DRAW LENGTH
|We will gladly adjust your new compound bow to any draw length you require. If you already know your draw length, this is an easy one. If you're not sure, read on.
Traditional recurves and longbows can be drawn back to practically any length. There are no mechanical stops, so traditional archers can draw back as far as they wish (within reason of course). But compound bows don't work this way. Compound bows are engineered to draw back only so far - and then stop. This distance is known as the bow's "draw length" - and it's controlled by the mechanical systems on the bow. The trick is ... the mechanical setting of the bow and the physical size of the bow's owner need to match. That's where we come in.
Because of the elliptical powerstroke generated by the cams, compound bows are designed to be shot only from the full-draw position (whatever that mechanical setting may be). If a compound bow is set for a 29" draw length, for example, it should always be drawn back to a full 29" and then shot from that position. You don't shoot from the middle of the powerstroke - you only shoot after the bow reaches its full draw. You draw the bow back until you feel the mechanical stop - then you take aim - then you shoot! Easy.
On most compound bows, the mechanical stop is quite firm. A bow that's set for 29" draw cannot be drawn back to 30" or 31" without modifying the mechanical setup on the bow. Draw your bow in a slow and controlled manner. Just after your bow achieves full let-off, you will feel the touchdown at "the wall." That's it. You're ready to shoot. Most modern compounds take less than 20 lb. of pressure to hold back at full draw. So if you're still grunting and straining at full draw, you're trying to forcibly overdraw the bow. So be cool. When you get to full draw, relax. You made it.
Of course, the proper draw length setting varies from shooter to shooter. Taller shooters generally need more draw length, shorter shooters less. Fortunately, most compound bows can easily be adjusted for different draw lengths. In many cases, draw length is user-adjustable with just a hex wrench - should you decide to make changes on your own later.
Again, the draw length of a compound bow can only be set within the bow's specified mechanical range. So you must choose a bow that can adjust to fit you properly. A bow with a draw length range of 25-30" cannot be altered to fit an archer requiring a 23" draw length - or a 31" draw length. So check the specs before ordering.
If you don't already know your draw length size, here's an easy method we have utilized for a decade ... the old Armspan/2.5 method. To measure your draw length, determine the length of your arm-span in inches. Stand with your arms out and palms facing forward. Don't stretch when measuring. Just stand naturally. Have someone else help you, and measure from the tip of one middle finger to the other. Then simply divide that number by 2.5. The quotient is your approximate draw length (in inches) for your body size.
Be advised that the majority of compound bow owners set their bows for too much draw length, which results in poor shooting form - inaccuracy - and painful string slap on the forearm. You will better enjoy - and be more successful with your compound bow when it is fitted properly to your body. And if in doubt, choose a little LESS draw length rather than a little more.
We have several articles which cover this topic in more detail. If you are still unsure about your draw length, please read our Measuring Your Draw Length help guide and our Additional Discussion on Draw Length article. If you're still unsure, please don't hesitate to give our help desk a call at 877-410-7811. We will be happy to talk you through it.
Technical Note: Compound bow cams come in a variety of styles and degrees of sophistication. Some are easy to adjust - others are not. If you need to make a draw length change, and your bow is one of the not-so-easy models, we will gladly assist you with module exchanges and/or perform the service for you here in the pro-shop. Just let us know if you need help. Also, please note that significant draw length changes will likely change your bow's arrow length & spine requirements, and may disrupt the proper timing of drop away arrow rests. Again, call us if you need help.