How To Measure Draw Length – 2021 Walkthrough Guide

| Last Updated May 14, 2021

To be an incredible archer, you must measure your draw length. If you don’t, you’ll negatively affect your form, accuracy, and comfort. Repeatedly using an incorrect measurement can even cause injury. 

There are three different ways to measure it: the ATA, wingspan, and arrow methods.

We’ll explain these processes in detail below. 

Draw Length Terminology and Common Concepts

Before you determine your draw length, there are a few terms you should know:

  • Draw Length: The length that a bow is pulled back, from the Berger hole or the front of the grip to the string’s corner.

  • Drawing: Pulling back an arrow and bowstring

  • Berger Hole: Where the arrow rest attaches to the riser

  • Arrow Rest: The part of the bow that cradles the arrow
     
  • Riser: Centerpiece of a bow that the grip and rest are attached to

  • Grip: The curved part of the riser designed for you to hold on to 

  • Uncut Arrow: Arrows that haven’t been trimmed 

  • Draw Weight: The pounds of force needed to pull a traditional bow back 28 inches or to pull a compound bow back until the arrow releases

  • Drawing Arm: Arm that pulls back the string

  • Drawing Hand: Hand that draws the string
  • Full Draw: Bowstring is pulled back, and the drawing hand is at the anchor point

  • Anchor Point: A place on the face, mouth, or jaw that your drawing hand consistently goes to

  • Overdrawn: When the bowstring is too short

  • Pivot Point: Place the bow nestles in between your index finger and thumb

  • Nock Point: Part of the arrow that snaps onto the string

  • Stacking: Exponential increase in draw weight when you pull past a bow’s optimal draw length

  • Limb Failure: Stress on the limbs that causes them to break when drawn too far

  • Hand Shock: The vibration through the handle when shooting

What is Draw Length and Why Does it Matter?

Draw length measures how far a bow is pulled back in inches. Knowing how far you can pull a bow back allows you to find a bow that fits your body. Picking the wrong bow can decrease your accuracy, make you uncomfortable when shooting, and lead to injuries. 

How to Find Your Draw Length

So, how do you find out what your measurement is? There are three different methods of finding this measurement. We’ll explain these strategies in detail below. However, before you can figure out your measurement, you need to learn the proper form. 

Proper Form

If you don’t use the proper form, you won’t get an accurate measurement. You may be off several inches. You want your front arm out and locked, with your back arm drawing the pivot point to your jaw. 

Avoid overstretching your arms. If you pull back too far, you’ll create extra slack that you don’t need. 

ATA Method

Most professionals use the Archery Trade Association’s calculation to determine draw length. Using an uncut arrow, pull back your bow. Have someone measure from the nock point to the pivot point.

Next, add one and three-fourths to your results. These extra inches account for the distance from the pivot point to the front of the grip. This method gives you what archer’s call the “true draw length.” 

Wingspan Method

This process relies on your wingspan to determine your measurement. With your back against a wall, spread your arms, forming a “T” shape with your body. Measure the distance in inches from one middle finger to the other. Subtract 15 and divide by two to get your measurement. 

You can also use your height in inches instead of figuring out your wingspan because, typically, they are the same. However, measuring the arm distance may provide more accuracy. 

You can use our calculator below to help you determine your draw length

Arrow Method

While less accurate than the other two methods, this strategy can be a good starting point for beginners. Plus, you can easily do this method by yourself. 

Start by getting an arrow that is longer than your arm and has ruler markings. You can find these arrows at an archery supply store, or you can mark an uncut arrow yourself at home. 

Next, place the notch on your chest, just below the collarbone. The arrow should align with your shoulder sockets. Face your palms together with the arrow in-between, pointing away from you. 

Mark where your middle fingers are on the arrow. Then, add two inches. This calculation will give you an approximation of your draw length. 

Measuring Draw Length

There are three ways to measure your draw length, which we have discussed in detail. For a visual example of these methods, look below: 

Photo credit: learn-archery.com

Other Factors to Consider When Measuring

There are a few other factors that can affect your measurement. Consider the following when measuring:

Posture

Poor posture corrupts your measurement. You should have your feet directly under your hips, which should be directly under your shoulders. 

Keep your head erect. When drawn, you want your arms in a horizontal line and the string resting just past the corner of your mouth. 

Shoulder Position

Standing in a natural position will increase the accuracy of your measurement. Make sure your shoulders are relaxed and not tense or bent. 

Draw Weight

The draw weight changes depending on how far you pull back the arrow. For example, a draw length longer than the standard 28 inches will increase the weight.

Every inch over or under 28 adds or subtracts 2.5 pounds. If you wanted a 30-pound bow and had a 24-inch draw length, you would need to buy a 35 instead. 

Conclusion

You must know your draw length to get the best bow for your body. Before measuring, learn the terminology and proper form. 

Once you’ve done this, there are three different methods you can use: applying the ATA calculations, relying on your wingspan, and measuring with an arrow. Whichever method you choose, remember to consider your posture, shoulder position, and draw weight.

Now that you’ve learned how to measure it, you can buy a bow that’s perfect for you and become a pro archer in no time! 

People Also Ask

You may still have a few questions about draw length. We answer a few commonly asked questions below. 

Can You Overdraw a Bow?

Yes, you can overdraw a bow. Every bow has an optimal draw length. Pulling the arrow back any further causes stacking. This problem requires more muscle, which makes you uncomfortable. It also causes limb failure, hand shock, and decreased accuracy. 

When drawing, the bow will eventually become harder to pull back. At that point, stacking occurs. If you feel this tension before reaching your draw length, your bow isn’t sized correctly. 

How Do I Know if My Draw Length is Too Long?

When your draw length is too long, the string will go past the corner of your mouth, and the string will rest on your nose.  When you shoot, the bow arm will drop or swing to the side or be hit by the string. You may also struggle to keep the bow pulled back.

What is the Average Draw Length?

The average (based on the wingspan method) for men in the US is 27 inches. For women, it’s 24 inches.

How Do You Measure a Kid’s Draw Length?

For children, determine draw length by measuring the distance between their stretched arm and the corner of their mouth. 

Can’t I Just Buy a Bow Based on My Child’s Age?

No, you can’t buy a bow based solely on your child’s age. Every person is different. One ten-year-old may be taller or stronger than another. Ideal draw length and weight differ from person to person, regardless of age. 

Is Arm Span Equal to Your Height?

Yes, arm span is typically equal to your height. But, keep in mind, this is not always the case. You may want to measure the arm span itself for more accuracy.



My name is Jeff and I have been hunting and fishing for over 40 years. I am an avid archery lover, bass fisherman, and all-around outdoorsman. Currently, I'm obsessed with elk hunting but I'm sure I'll move onto a different favorite soon. You gotta love hunting for that reason :) If you have any questions, or just want chat about your latest hunting score or big catch, you can reach me at admin@biggamelogic.com. Read more about Big Game Logic.