What is the Ideal Draw Weight for My Bow?

[Updated 1 February 2024] The bow’s draw weight has a lot to do with how much strength is required to pull back on a bow and maintain the draw to aim your shot. The weight you pick is determined by your level of expertise and overall physicality. You must also consider what you want to use the bow for. Do you prefer to hunt or shoot at a target?

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Once you’ve identified your draw weight, you’ll need to think about your draw length, and, hopefully, you already know that certain bows are designed particularly for left- or right-handed shooters. Do you want a bow that is left or right-handed?

Build, Bodyweight, and Suggested Bow Draw Weights

When looking for recurve bows or compound bows, you’ll see that draw weight is given in pounds (lbs). The table below shows you different sorts of people, including children, teenagers, men, and women, as well as a corresponding (average) weight category and a suggested draw weight based on that. To begin, figure out what kind of individual you are so that you can match your weight category and calculate your suggested draw weight. If you’re overweight or underweight and don’t fall within a specific category, I’d recommend selecting your size/strength in the type/build column.

Type of Person/Build

Weight (lbs)

Weight (kgs)

Recurve Suggested Draw Weight (lbs)

Compound Suggested Draw Weight (lbs)
Small/Slight Child70-10031-4510-1515-25
Large/Strong Child100-13045-5915-2525-35
Small/Slight Woman100-13045-5925-3525-35
Average Woman130-16059-7325-3530-40
Large/Strong Woman160+73+30-4545-55
Small/Slight Man or Older Boy120-15054-6830-4545-55
Average Man150-18068-8240-5555-65
Large/Strong Man180+82+45-6065-75

If you’re a novice, the ideal draw weight to start with is likely to be lighter. The main reason for this is that you must first master the excellent technique. Once you’ve mastered the decent, consistent form, think about adding weight. As you become more experienced with archery, your strength will grow naturally, allowing you to draw and maintain a steady posture with greater weight. You’ll be prompted to move up the suggested draw weight range and perhaps even into the next category.

Recurve Draw Weights

​On a bow, the draw weight is usually inscribed on the lower limb’s face (the limb’s side that faces you). Normally, the weight is given in pounds at a specific ideal draw length, such as 30 lbs at 28 inches. That would indicate that the weight on the string should be 30 pounds when drawn to 28 inches. The draw weight might be increased or reduced by choosing an over or underdrawing. How much do you want to know? This is highly dependent on the bow, but a good rule of thumb is that each inch over drawn adds roughly 2 pounds of weight. For each inch lower than intended, you should expect to lose 2 pounds from the draw weight.

A heavier draw weight, you believe, would result in a more precise shot because the arrow flies faster and flatter through the air to your target. It’s not true. A heavier arrow is required to draw a bow with higher draw weight. A stiffer arrow is generally heavier. A heavier arrow will travel at a slower speed and balance out some of the benefits of raising the draw weight. Arrows get stiffer and lighter as technology advances, but the fundamental notion still applies, with target and field archers needing different arrows than hunters.

With a 25lb draw weight all the way up to the maximum available, you can shoot 70m targets (Olympic distance) with basically anything. However, if you want to go hunting, you’ll need something like a 40lbs draw weight because anything less won’t be a deadly shot.

For each sort of user and build, some producers provide a variety of draw weights on their bows. You may see some great recurve bows in our collection of the best recurve bows.

Hunting Draw Weights

A bow that is used for hunting usually requires a heavier draw and arrow. The heavier the arrow, the more power it will deliver, the deeper it will go, and the greater the damage it can do. In the case of a target archer, there are several factors to think about. A heavier draw will be more challenging to hold and aim steadily, regularly, and accurately.

A minimum draw weight of 40 lbs for a hunter is advised. A heavier arrow may penetrate farther and generate more kinetic energy even at a lower draw weight from a shorter range. Many states have rules in place that restrict hunters to bows with a draw weight is no less than 40 pounds. Before you buy, double-check the laws in your state.

Read on to learn more about bow hunting in this informative article.

Compound Draw Weights

The draw weight scale for compound bows differs considerably, owing to something called “let-off,” a compound bow archer must hold far less poundage at full draw than a recurve archer. While releasing the string, the bow does the work of compounding the energy stored in the limbs and delivering a more powerful shot. The draw weight of a compound bow is typically measured in pounds, with the let-off percentage specified in the specs allowing you to calculate how much of the real draw weight must be held at full draw.

We’ve covered a wide range of products in our article about the best compound bow, from entry-level to expert.

Compound Let-Off Percentage

A compound bow with a draw weight of 50 lbs and a 70 percent let-off would need you to draw 50 lbs halfway through but only require 15 lbs of pressure when fully drawn.

You may see the distinction by comparing these forces and drawing curves from the ATA standards. The draw force of a recurve bow increases as you pull it back further, whereas that of a compound bow reaches its peak midway through the draw (force draw curve), and only half of the overall force is retained after you release it.

Selecting a Draw Weight for a Youth Compound Bow

A draw weight of fewer than 15 pounds is recommended for children weighing 50-70 pounds in general. A draw weight of 15-25 pounds is enough for children weighing between 70 and 100 pounds. Toddlers and children weighing between 100 and 130 pounds may operate with a draw weight of up to 40 pounds, whereas toddlers and kids weighing between 130 and 150 pounds can use a draw weight of 40-50 pounds. The following table summarizes these considerations.

Here’s an article you might find interesting, where we’ve compiled a great selection of the top youth compound bows.

Child Weight Range (lbs)Draw Weight Range (lbs)
50 – 70< 15
70 – 10015 – 25
100 – 13025 – 40
130 – 15040 – 50