Adjusting Draw Weight

As a bow tech I introduce newcomers to a sport that I am passionate about. However, in the 30 minutes I have with customers I can’t explain everything. It’s tough to know which factors to focus on in archery. Beginners often come into our shop frustrated not knowing why they can’t get their arrows to group well. In the next few weeks I will cover some of the basics and answer the most common questions I receive. Today’s topic: draw weight.

Used bows provide a great opportunity for beginners to try out archery. For a couple hundred buck you can buy a bow and shoot all summer. Once hunting season rolls around you can decide whether to head for the woods or head for eBay and sell everything.

Though used bows provide a great bang for the buck, the bow was set up for someone else, and, as a result, the peep height, draw length and draw weight will not fit properly. Peep height can be adjusted in a few minutes at a shop. Draw weight and length are more tricky.

Draw Weight

Most of the time customers want their draw weight increased. I have no problem with hunters shooting heavier poundages, but, if you can’t draw your bow while sitting, don’t increase poundage. I often watch beginners draw in an exaggerated motion where they point the bow towards the sky and heave the string back to their anchor. When hunting you can’t get away with that much motion. Additionally, if you strain to pull your bow back, you won’t be able to practice very long without getting tired. Where you hit the animal is much more important than the amount of force you hit it with. If decreasing 5 pounds means you have the energy to shoot ten more arrows each practice session, decrease your poundage and increase your accuracy .

That being said, the muscles for drawing a bow develop quickly, and after a month of shooting you will see considerable improvement. Especially for kids I’ll set bows slightly heavier in the springtime and count on them getting stronger throughout the summer. Try to reach 60 pounds if you want to hunt elk and fifty for deer. You can hunt with a bow in the fifties for elk and 40s for deer, but you have much less margin for error.

The easiest way to adjust weight is by turning the limb bolts. Watch a YouTube draw weight video before you get started. It’s much safer to increase poundage than to decrease. Decreasing can go wrong in a hurry, so take it slow and use common sense. If your have maxed out your bow you can can add some draw weight by twisting cables tighter or loosening your string. However, you will need a bow press to do this.


If you know you are going to shoot a lot you might as well set the bow a little heavier in the spring. Drawing the bow while seated is the best rule of thumb I know of for determining whether the weight is too much. Stay safe.

Thank you for reading,


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