What’s your draw length? Are you sure? How do you know?
The number of archers and bow-hunters that we 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 bow-hunters, 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?
Results on an archer from the 4 measurements are…
As this is an approximation, and there will always likely be some adjustment after setting up the bow, the first method, wingspan is easy to perform and will generally get you to a good starting point.
Children are the exception to the rule, and the results of measuring their wingspan may be not be as accurate as an adult given that adults are done growing and their bodies have evened out from a proportion perspective.