It’s a question we’ve heard more than a few times from first-time bowhunters: “What is the best draw length for bow hunting, and ultimately hitting the bullseye?”
It’s not hard to see why that question gets asked: the further you draw the bow, the more force the string exerts on the bow when you release it, in turn affecting the accuracy of a shot. However, the great thing about modern compound bows is that they make it so easy for each shooter to find their optimal draw length, and then hit it every time.
With more old-fashioned bows, you could draw the bowstring back as far as you wanted, and the draw length could shift with every shot. As you might expect, such bows made it more difficult for archers to get a consistent feel and accuracy out of their weapons.
While inconsistency is no real problem for early target practice sessions – in fact, it is to be expected from beginning archers – it can cause big problems for a hunter out in the field.
Enter the compound bow.
Rather than leaving draw length up to chance, compound bows allow bowhunters to figure out their ideal draw length and then set their bow so that the string will not go back any further than that optimized length. In other words, the optimal draw length for bow accuracy depends entirely on the size of each unique shooter.
It’s all too obvious that a 6’2” male with long arms is not going to have the same draw length as a 5’6” female.
The question, of course, is how to determine your optimal draw length. Luckily, the process is not one fraught with much difficulty or frustration.
Most modern compound bows make it easy to mechanically set or change a default draw length. If you are finding your draw length for the first time, however, there are a few tips you will want to remember as you walk through the process.
First of all, the best way to find your draw length is to simply experiment with the bow you are going to be using in the field. Draw the bowstring back to a comfortable position – stop before you feel like you are stretching your shoulder – and then let go. If the current mechanical draw length does not allow for enough extension, increase it; if the length is longer than you need it to be, adjust it down until the stop point – you will feel a very obvious “wall” of sorts when you’ve reached the set draw length – matches up with your comfortable draw-and-shoot position.
Don’t leave any “extra” draw length in case you decide to change your form. Compound bows are optimized to be shot from their set length, and leaving any extra space will not help your shot.
The bottom line with finding the right draw length with a compound bow is to go with what feels comfortable.
Every person is different, so you should be more invested in finding a comfortable draw length for you rather than trying to meet some generic average.