How to Determine Draw Length | 3 Method

When I say archery, what stirs your mind? Perhaps a bow and an arrow. Of course, some people even vision a quiver clasping onto their back and shooting targets with 100% accuracy.

Well, that’s quite an exciting thing to imagine, but when it comes to accuracy, your skills are only one component of the equation. Draw length is a little archery concept that you should be acquainted with to ensure you’re firing the most successful shots.

Whether you are a seasoned pro or just a fledgling, knowing how to measure your draw length will come in handy and is vital for proper archery shooting form.

To give you a quick answer right here and right now — draw length is the gauged distance from the throat of your grip to the string’s nocking point when you’re at a full draw.

Now, the information I’ve shared with you is pretty technical, and therefore, I’ve explained everything in detail in this article.

What’s more, many new archers add a few inches to their draw length, thinking that it’ll give them a bit of room to work for adjustments, but the reality is they are compromising on their accuracy.

So you should be very well acclimatized with this concept, and that’s what I’ve done in this guide. I’ve explained a ton of things with some simple ways you can adhere to — to determine the draw length of your bow, along with some crucial information that will keep you less oblivious, especially when it comes to archery.

Thus, if you’re ready to plunge deeper and get the answer for most of your qualms, I’d suggest keep scrolling.

What On Earth is Draw Length?

Draw Length

Archers draw length is a measurement that helps you to determine the correct size of your bow. You can think of it as the garment shopping for archers (yeah, that’s a bit weird, but you get the idea xD), but each individual has a different length and, in this case, bow length.

Knowing this measurement is crucial as it helps you get the right size for your bow and, in turn, better accuracy. Nevertheless, it also helps in forestalling many injuries related to posture and wrong bow size.

Therefore, your draw length will be the deciding factor to determine the anchor point when you are at your full draw.

Many newcomers are frazzled to find the correct draw length for their bow and are even more confused in understanding the term.

To put it simply, it is the distance measured in inches, and the measurement is how far you can pull your bow to get a better full draw.

So then the question comes to mind — what is a full draw?

A full draw basically means that you’ve drawn the string back to your anchor point, and your shoulders, as well as back, are in line with your bow arm straight out.

And if you are looking for more power and speed from your bow, you’ll need to gauge your draw length at full draw. That will provide you with the maximum distance you can draw the string at a full draw.

Knowing your draw length, especially with a full draw, will help you in selecting the correct sized bow and arrow.

Why is Measuring Draw Length Imperative?

Using a bow with a better or proper draw length will increase the accuracy of your shots. If you’ve encountered complaints about some sort of pain after firing a few shots, I can bet it is due to the wrong draw length.

In addition to that, shooting on a wrong draw length will add injuries that, trust me, you don’t want to experience. If you are shooting on a wrong draw length, you’re not only prone to several injuries, but also you are learning lousy archery forms, and you can even hit yourself with the drawstring.

Inaccuracy is just one of the many things that come with the wrong draw length, and this inaccuracy leads to either a shorter or a longer draw length that has the following negative points.

Shorter Draw Length

Shorter Draw Length

If you don’t measure your bow length correctly, you can pick up the wrong bow, which can be shorter in string and cause unpleasant surprises relating to injuries.

Another thing that comes with shorter bow length is underdrawing the bow; this happens to beginners and inexperienced archers, as well as to individuals who’ve not properly measured their draw length.

Underdrawing your bow means that you’re drawing the bow much shorter than where it needs to be. People who don’t grasp the concept of draw length can undoubtedly make this mistake.

Since you’re underdrawing the bow, you’re not drawing the bow to its full potential, which will affect your accuracy. Not only that, but you cannot imagine your bow traveling at farther distances as it’s underdrawn.

Longer Draw Length

Longer Draw Length

This mostly happens when you’ve attached the duct tape far from your middle fingers or your posture was wrong while doing so. If your draw length is longer than your optimal one, you will end up using a too large bow.

Meaning, you will not be able to pull the string correctly to the end, jeopardizing your bow and accuracy as well. Not to mention, a larger bow will be hard to maneuver as it’s heavier, and this is especially true for tyros.

If the draw length of your bow is set at too great length, you can face overdraw. Generally, when your draw length is perfect, the string will approximately stop at the anchor point when you pull it back.

This creates an improper position of the chest area and causes it to protrude, which leads to many problems, other than lousy accuracy, such as lower arm string slap.

Similarly, if you can underdraw your bow, you can also overdraw it. However, it also depends on the bow you’re using. For instance, compound bows have a mechanical stop that prevents you from pulling the string back too far.

With that said, not all bows come with such a mechanism. Therefore, you have more chances to overdraw your bow. Overdrawing is the polar opposite of underdrawing and also affects your accuracy negatively.

Though you can shoot your arrow at farther distances by simply overdrawing the bow (laws of kinetic energy and momentum), it is not a good practice and can even harm your bow. You want to have consistency in draw length, and overdrawing and underdrawing are not conducive to that as they are just shooting errors — technically speaking.

If you’re overdrawing, you’re overstating the bow length, and in the underdrawing, you’re compressing your body to adapt for the bow length. Both can result in injuries. However, overdrawing your bow can also cause severe damage to your bow than underdrawing.

And that’s the last thing you’d want as you’ve spent so much to get a bow that is not cheap.

What Should You Measure in Draw Length?

Draw length seems simple, right? All you have to do is just measure the length of your draw. Well, as simple as it sounds, you’ll have to consider many factors that alter the level of simplicity.

For example, is the brace height you should be measuring, or should you include the same in your measurements? Where do the draw end and start? Answering such questions might give better clarity.

That said, the official way of measuring your draw length given by ATA or otherwise known as Archery Trade Association, is…

The distance between your nocking point at your string and the pivot point of your grip plus 1 ¾ inch is your draw length. Here the definition refers to a full draw.

Therefore, according to the official way, the measurement of your draw length is the gauged distance between the deepest part of your grip to the nocking point of your string. After that, add 1 ¾ inch to the measurement you get your draw length.

And that’s the formal way to measure your draw length — at least according to the ATA.

However, albeit many archers strongly disagree with such measurement, most of us use this method. That said, measuring the throat of the nock to the deepest part of the grip can prove to be quite a hassle as you are holding the bow.

Therefore, many archers tend to measure the end of the riser, and in most cases, it’s similar to 1 ¾ inch from the grip.

Generally, many people are of the opinion that having an accurate measurement of the draw length is not necessary most of the time. Howbeit, I tend to think conversely, and I don’t want to compromise on accuracy either.

Therefore, I have shared some easy yet precise ways that you can adhere to — to get an accurate measurement of your draw length.

How to Measure Draw Length?

Just like any other form of measurement, there are many schools of thought when it comes to getting precise and accurate draw length value.

Though there are subtle variations to such methods, they almost produce the exact measurement figure, given that the steps were followed correctly and accurately.

Here are some of my favorite ways you can follow to get the correct draw length for your bow.

The WingSpan Method

The WingSpan Method

One of the best and quickest, let alone famous, ways of determining the correct draw length value is the wingspan measurement.

The method is fast, simple, and effective. Plus, all you need is a friend or assistant along with a measuring tape and a calc.

To start with this method, you’ll have to stand straight behind a wall and make sure that your back is as straight as possible. Now extend both of your arms outward to each of their respective sides.

Make sure that your arms are parallel to the floor and are at the same level as each other. Once done, call your assistant or friend and have them meticulously measure the distance between the tip of one middle finger to the other with the help of a measuring tape.

Have your friend record the measurements in inches; once you get the measure, divide it by 2.5.

Voila! You have your correct draw length, and now you can adjust the draw length accordingly. However, make sure that you are cross checking the measurements after you have adjusted your bow so that you can get satisfactory results.

The Button to Base Method

The Button to Base Method

Another efficient way of measuring your draw length is by the button-to-base method or sometimes referred to as Sternum Midline Measurements.

Talking about this method, though this one is the simplest of all ways, it tends to be relatively less accurate in nature. This method is mainly used to give a ballpark value for your draw length, so keep this in mind.

To start with, you have to stand straight and upright and extend your bow arm (the arm which holds the bow) outward parallel to the floor.

Once done, you can use a measuring tape to measure the distance from the center-line of your breastbone or Sternum to your wrist’s base of the arm that you’ve extended.

You’ll get a number in inches that should be your draw length. What you can do here is, you can measure the measurement once again after some time to get better uniformity. As this method is somewhat less accurate than others, cross checking your figures will add a tad bit of consistency to the process.

Measuring Arrows

Measuring Arrows

There are some special measuring arrows used to gauge the draw length. These arrows are readily available at any archery shop, and you can even find them online as well.

These arrows are marked with lengths that vary along the shaft. The arrows are used to measure the draw length when the archery is getting ready for a shot.

Meaning, all you have to do is nock the arrow to the string and pull it back till you reach your comfortable anchor point, and now have your assistant or friend record the bow’s measurement displayed onto the arrow just past the riser.

You will get your draw length. With that being said, it is imperative to note that you should be in a proper shooting form, as you would when shooting actually. This way, all the measurements you’ll get will be concise and correct.

Which Method do I prefer?

Well, for me, I personally like the wingspan method to measure my draw length. Don’t just take my word for it; you can try it yourself. The wingspan method is a profoundly precise method for estimating draw length.

I feel that this method is way more accurate and excellent to get a perfect draw length for your bow. I have many experienced friends with over 30 years of industry expertise recommending this method.

Every time I measure my draw length with this method, it has served as consistent proof of highly accurate draw length value.

Your Draw Length Changes After Some Time

Yes, you read that correctly. You might be saying, for adults, the wingspan and height do not increase. You’re right, but don’t be fooled that draw length will always stay the same, especially if you are a beginner.

You see, draw length is primarily dependent on the shooting form you’re using. Many people stand straight and shoot, while others bend over. In addition to this, many archers tend to draw bows farther than others.

Since the shooting form and technique can change, so will the draw length.

Generally, most of the newcomers in archery experience an increment in their draw length. It is not too much and can sometimes be an inch or a half, but it happens. And in some cases, it can even go to three inches.

As you learn and improve your muscle strength and technique over time, your draw length will increment.

What If You Don’t Get to See the Draw Length of Your Favorite Bow While Shopping?

Despite the fact that you know your draw length, you may get a problem if the merchant doesn’t have the foggiest idea of the draw length or doesn’t know the draw length for the bow you ought to purchase.

This is quite prevalent if you are shopping online. If you cannot find the draw length, you can always use this table to get a good idea of what might be good for you according to your height.

With that said, do keep in mind that these figures are general and may not be exact for specific individuals. However, it’s an excellent place to start, so here you go.

Height in Feet and InchesDraw Length in Inches

Though this table is suitable for estimating your draw length; Nothing beats the measurement you find by yourself.

Not Ready?

Don’t worry. You cannot understand practical things just by reading a bunch of thousand words (well, I do appreciate it if you read till the end). Therefore, watching videos helps you save time and unwanted vexation. Here’s a video that I think will help you if you are looking for a quick way to understand and measure your draw length.


Even though measuring draw length seems intimidating at first, you see yourself that it is not much of a task. By following the methods I’ve shared, you can get your draw length within minutes.

The method you go for is your personal choice, but as I said, the wingspan method would be the one if I’ve to measure my draw length for my new bow. Getting the perfect draw length would enable better accuracy, so make sure you’re meticulously abiding by the methods.

With all that said, thank you for reading the article till here. I hope you found the information you were looking for, if not at least learned something new. Don’t forget to share your methods in the comment section down below, and I might add them to the article.

Till then, keep hunting, and keep fishing!