How to Measure Draw Length?

Knowing how to measure draw length is vital in choosing your very own compound bow. You don’t only consider the brand, design, and price when you make your selection since there are more important considerations like draw length and draw weight.

Some beginners in archery don’t know about these factors, leading to mistakes in buying. So if you’re wondering how to determine draw length, continue reading.

Compound bows are bought as either adjustable or having fixed length. Compound bows, unlike recurve bows, should always be drawn at its maximum length whenever you aim a shot.

You don’t just choose a compound bow without knowing if it suits you as you might suffer in the long run. The worst case scenario here is you won’t be able to enjoy the sport.

Draw length is fundamentally measured from your arm span length, and there are several methods that you can try.

Once you determine your appropriate draw length, the size of your bow will then be determined, as well as the size of the arrows you will be using. In this article, we will present you how to do them one by one.

Why Is It So Important To Measure Draw Length?

When you own a compound bow, the draw length should be a perfect match with the length of your arms.

This means that you can ensure maximum efficiency and maximum accuracy when you take your bow to hunting or shooting. In this way, you can achieve a proper shooting form.

Why Is It So Important To Measure Draw Length?

A full draw position that an archer must always perform when targeting should be like the following. The bow handle is held by the non-dominant hand, and the string is pulled back with your other hand.

Keeping one foot forward, pull back the string until you reach its limit. The traditional limit or wall that is common along with classic bows is when your knuckle touches the side of your face, and the string touches your nose or the corner of your mouth.

These contact points are what we also call anchor points. Knowing the proper form in shooting would mean that you will easily find if your draw length is not your match.

A draw length lesser than your actual draw length means that the string, when pulled back, won’t reach any part of your face. A draw length that is longer than the actual implies that it is too far back from your cheek.

When you shoot arrows, the string tends to slap to your forearm, and this could be painful. Because it’s longer, you will not hit the maximum stored energy that your bow can muster so this means lower accuracy.

However, some people prefer longer draw length. This is because the higher the draw length, the faster an arrow can travel.

For instance, in a draw length of 28 inches, the arrow can travel 280 feet per second. If it’s 30 inches, the arrow will go at a rate of 300 feet per second. Since they want faster arrows, their accuracy might suffer.

The string tends to slap to your forearm, and this could be painful.

Either way, both too short and too long draw lengths won’t let you reach the proper form in archery.

This could hinder your performance as your accuracy is lessened and your consistency is not good. In archery, consistency is important so that you can repeatedly draw back the string without feeling hesitation and also awkward with the position.

Influencing Factors in Measuring Draw Length

In ATA method, where you measure your draw length while in the full draw position, most people think that this is the best ideal way.

Some other methods could come close to the value acquired in this method, however, and you should properly observe what makes the measured draw length too short or too long.

You may have a poor alignment if your shoulders aren’t relaxed and are in higher position than usual as if in a shrugging position.

Your elbow is also isn’t in a natural form, and the position is higher. These can give off shorter draw length. You can correct these by keeping your shoulders and elbow in a relaxed position.

Calmly pull the string with your dominant hand. The forearm should be parallel with the flat ground and not in any other position.

Also, the wrist of your dominant hand shouldn’t be arched that it is not in a straight line with your forearm.

The alignment of your head and neck should be in a natural position and must not have any angle other than being at a right angle to the flat ground.

Your posture should be straight, and your back must not be arched. Using your back muscles help improve the draw consistency and attain a good shooting form.

In keeping consistency, decide where the string should rest on what part of your face. It could either be at the corner of your mouth or the chin.

How to Determine Draw Length

We list here several approaches in measuring your draw length. Most of these methods would need an assistant to help you correct your form and also in measuring with a tape measure or other way.

But if you don’t have anyone with you, you can also do them yourself provided that you put markers to know the exact positions for easy measuring.

Method #1: Calculated Draw Length

In this method, stand up straight and place your hands on each side forming a letter T or when the orientation of your arms is straightly parallel to the ground. Outstretch your arms in a natural way and never stretch in any way possible.

Doing so will obviously affect the measured arm span, and then to your draw length. The position of the main body from head to toe should be straight vertically.

Draw Length

This method can’t be possibly done alone so you won’t sacrifice accuracy. With the help of your assistant, have him or her start measuring with a tape measure from the tip of the middle finger on your left side and then to the middle finger of your right side.

Or another variation of this would be using markers like tape or pencil on both ends after standing back against the wall. Then measure with a tape measure afterward.

The arm span measured is then divided by 2.5. The quotient is then your draw length. If you have an arm span of 60 inches, dividing by 2.5, you get 24 inches for your draw length.

If the draw length is, for instance, 24.3 inches, it’s better to round off to the nearest one-half of an inch. With the actual 24.3 inches measurement, you have 24.5 inches for your final draw length.

An alternate calculation aside from just dividing the arm span with 2.5 is to take the entire arm span and subtract 15 from it. Afterward, divide the difference by 2.

For a 60-inch arm span, subtracting with 15 is 45 inches. Divide by 2 and you get 22.5 inches. Using this can vary your calculations but still close to the other methods.

Method #2: Chest to Hand

There are two ways to get around this method. The first one is by which you can do by yourself. Standing straight up and extend both of your arms in front of you. The alignment of those arms should be straight parallel to the ground.

With a meter stick, position one end of it to your chest and clasp it with both arms or hold it within your palms. Grasping the stick firmly, push the stick slowly to yourself and get the measurement.

This one could be inaccurate so better get a few trials before sticking to the last one. If your draw length is a decimal, simply round off to the nearest 1/2 inch like in the first method.

The second way is with an assistant. Do a letter T with your arms and body. Have a friend measure from the tip of your middle finger on your left and end until the middle part of your chest where the buttons of your shirt are normally found. The measurement would then be your draw length.

Method #3: ATA Draw Length Standard

ATA Draw Length StandardATA stands for Archery Trade Association. With this method, you will need a special arrow with several lines on it. The lines stand for the measurement.

According to them, the draw length starts from the nock of the arrow where it meets the string to the pivot point of the bow grip while you’re in a full draw position.

To start with, you will need the help of an assistant in getting the measurement. Observe the absolute form in shooting properly.

When he gets the width in inches, add an extra 1.75 inches and there you get your draw length.

Method #4: Fist to Mouth Measurement

Again, you will need someone to help you take the measurements. As if holding a bow and shooting an imaginary arrow, assume the full draw position.

Position your non-dominant hand to a wall and the dominant hand should stop at your anchor point. Maintain the posture for quite some time until your assistant finishes taking your draw length.


The methods above show how to measure draw length. Indeed, with these methods, you can effectively have someone set up the draw length if you’re a beginner but you can do it yourself after practicing.