What is Draw Weight?

Categorized as Glossary
The Importance of Proper Form for Beginner Recurve Bow Shooters

Draw weight is the force needed to draw the bowstring back the draw length that is specified. The weight measurement usually expressed in pounds (lbs) can differ depending on the archer’s strength and the type of bow being used.

Put simply, if the draw weight is increased, a greater amount of force will be necessary to pull back the bowstring, leading to a faster and more potent release of the arrow.

Different Types of Bows and Their Draw Weights

There are many types of bows that are used in archery, each having an array of draw weights. Let’s take a look at the most common types and their respective draw weight ranges:

  • Recurve Bows: The traditional recurve bow features curved limbs that help store more energy when drawn. Draw weights for recurve bows can range from 15 to 70 lbs, with most recreational and beginner bows falling between 20 and 40 lbs.
  • Compound Bows: Utilizing a system of pulleys, or cams, compound bows are designed to provide a mechanical advantage to the archer. This allows for higher draw weights and increased accuracy. Draw weights for compound bows can range from 30 to 80 lbs, with most bows adjustable within a specific range.
  • Longbows: Known for their simplicity and historical significance, longbows are characterized by their straight, elongated limbs. Draw weights for longbows can range from 30 to 80 lbs or even higher, depending on the individual bow.
  • Crossbows: Despite not being used in archery archery in the traditional sense but crossbows are still a part in modern archery sports. With a horizontal bow mounted on a stock, crossbows offer high draw weights ranging from 75 to over 200 lbs.

Choosing the Right Draw Weight

Selecting the appropriate draw weight is crucial for both the safety and performance of the archer. Beginners should start with a lower draw weight to develop proper form and technique without straining their muscles.

As the archer builds strength and skill, they can gradually increase the draw weight. Factors to consider when choosing the right draw weight include:

  • Age: Younger archers should start with a lower draw weight to prevent injuries and develop good habits.
  • Strength and Fitness Level: A person’s overall strength and fitness level will determine the draw weight they can comfortably handle. The training of specific muscles used in archery, like arms, shoulders, and back, can assist to increase the draw weight over time.
  • Type of Archery: The intended purpose of the bow will also influence the ideal draw weight. Target archery generally requires lower draw weights, while hunting may necessitate a higher draw weight to ensure ethical and efficient kills.
  • Personal Preference: Ultimately, the archer should choose a draw weight that feels comfortable and allows them to shoot with proper form and control.


Draw weight is a fundamental aspect of archery, affecting both the power and precision of the shot. Understanding and selecting the appropriate draw weight can significantly impact an archer’s performance, safety, and overall enjoyment of the sport.

As you develop your skills and strength, experiment with different draw weights to find the perfect balance that suits your specific needs and goals in archery.