In this short article I want to introduce you to the advantages of knowing your draw length and how you can determine it.

What Draw Length Do I Need

Well, before you think about what draw length the compound should have you need to know your own, because that determines which bow to choose. Compounds are often set to certain adjustments. If your own exceeds those, you are not able to use that model properly because you won’t be able to pull it back correctly. Your movement will be stopped by the maximum settings of the compound bow, which would be pretty bad if you have bought something expensive like the Diamond Infinite Edge Pro.
 

How To Measure Your Draw Length

There are three common methods to measure yours. For the first one you need to know your arm-span. To determine it you need to stand relaxed with your arms out, palms facing forward. Now someone needs to help you out and measure the distance from middle finger to middle finger. After you have it, you need to divide that number by 2.5. And there you have it.
 

 Warning: Some people claim that arm-span equals body height. That is not true at all! So don’t fall for some bow charts that are based on body size. Also avoid charts that use age for recommending compound sizes. This won’t work either.
 
For the second method you need a special arrow for measuring. Such an arrow has a scale printed on it. So what you want do do is nock it to the string and then do a full draw. Now a second person needs to mark down the value on the scale that meets the outer point of the riser. To be sure you can check this value with the method above. If there is a slight difference just use the average of both values.
 

One word of caution: If you don’t know what proper form looks or feels like you won’t be able to measure correctly! You really need to do a full draw, anchoring on your anchor point, shoulders not raised or scrunched, chest not collapsed and arms and ellbows aligned to the shaft of the arrow.
 
For the third method you are going to need a folding ruler. Have a relaxed stance and hold the folding ruler with both palms in front of you while it rests on your chest. Have someone else note down the number where the tips of your middlefingers touch the folding ruler. This is a rather inaccurate method so I would double-check the number with one of the first two methods just to make sure.

What Is Draw Length Good For

Okay, so now you have it, so what? After knowing yours you know the length of the arrows you need to choose which is your own length + 1 inch. If you want to know more about choosing arrows please read my guide here => Choosing The Right Arrows.
Now that you know it you also can determine which compound you might buy and which not. Remeber, if the compound’s pull length is shorter than yours you cannot shoot it (or you shouldn’t).

Proper Draw Length For A Compound Bow

There are a few things you need to take into account for determining the proper draw length for a compound bow. Let’s start with wrong set ups.
 
Too much means that the nock point will be located too far behind your face. Therefore you will lose a bit of the stored energy as you won’t max out the power of the compound bow. With a set up like this you will lose accuracy while shooting and you will get painful string slaps on your forearm (those are always a clear sign that you are doing something wrong). Always remeber: When in doubt, rather choose a compound bow with a shorter than a longer draw length.
 
Men, especially, tend to go for longer ones because they think they will get more speed and power. The truth is that the speed of a bow is rated via IBO (International Bowhunting Organization) standards that assume a draw length of 30″. If you only pull 28″ you will lose some speed (FPS, feet per second) immediately. In this case 20 fps as 1 inch of draw length gets you 10 fps.
 
In case the draw length of the compound bow is too short, you simply won’t be able to pull it back enough as modern models will stop at their set value. If your model is not adjustable, you are done at this point.
 
A properly set draw length will let you find your contact points at full draw. That means that your draw cycle is repeatable which will give you consistency and therefore accuracy over time. You simply need to reach the same contact points over and over again while shooting, because they will define your anchor point. Which you cannot afford not to know.
 
Those contact points could be the corner of your mouth (recurve archers use it all the time as anchor point), where your knuckle meets your ear or cheek or how the string touches your nose or the corner of your mouth etc. The point here is that you need to know where your anchor point is to be able to use it as a reference point every time you shoot. Only then you are able to correct release errors etc.
 
If the draw length is wrong you won’t be able to reach your contact points in a natural way. Instead you will be forced to do all kinds of awkward movements to reach them. You should avoid such a scenario at all costs as it will destroy consistency which you will need so badly to get good at shooting.

Best Draw Length For Compound Bow

At this point you should already be aware that there is no best adjustment for a compound bow. You need to find your own best draw length. Even if that one will be a bit off your measurings that won’t be a bad thing. If you shoot best at a certain one and you feel good about it, that is the perfect one for you.
 
As there are a lot of models out there that you can adjust concerning draw weight and pull length I would recommend to you getting such a model for starting out, as you can adjust it easily in case you need to. Diamond Archery’s Infinite Edge Pro is famous for its wide adjustability (5-70 lbs, 13″-31″), so maybe check that one out for a start.
 
I hope you got something out of this article to ease your start in the world of archery, which I hope you will follow along for a very long time.
 
Thanks for reading and shoot straight!

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