How to


So you want to get the recurve bow. You go online, do some research and notice when checking out a few recurve models that they come in different lengths. And you are left asking yourself, “What size recurve bow is right for me?” If you do not know how to pick the right length, and choose a bow that is too long or too short then your accuracy, speed, and experience could suffer and could leave you missing the best part of the sport… The FUN!


For the purposes of this article, we are going talk more specifically about recurve bows for the target archer.  These guidelines will be for the archer who wants to get into competitive shooting, or who wants competition-style bows for recreational shooting. When choosing a bow for hunting or for traditional shooting, other criteria and factors will have to be considered.


Now the best and easiest way to determine the length of bow that is right for you is to visit local ProShop or Archery Club and speak to an expert. However if there isn’t a Pro-Shop, or club in your local area or if you do not feel comfortable walking into a Pro-Shop for the first time, here is a guideline on how to determine the correct bow size for you.


Without Stretching, Extend your arms out to either side of your body at shoulder height.  Have a partner measure the distance from the tip of one middle finger to the tip of the other. Once you have that number, divide by 2.5 and the answer is your calculated draw length. This should be pretty close to your actual draw length, if not your exact draw length.


With your draw length in hand, you will be able to choose the proper length of bow you should be shooting. That length, incidentally, is measured from tip to tip, following the curve of the limbs and along the back side of the riser, while the bow is unstrung.


Here’s a basic chart to follow:



14-16 inches……………….48 inches

17-20 inches……………….54 inches

20-22 inches……………….58 inches

22-24 inches……………….62 inches

24-26 inches……………….64-66 inches

26-28 inches……………….66-68 inches

28-30 inches……………….68-70 inches

31 inches and longer…………70-72 inches

So what happens if you choose a bow that is too short? Well, recurve bows are designed for peak performance at the proper draw length. As an example, the peak performance point for the 62-inch bow is going to be when it’s drawn 22-24 inches. The draw weight increases at a consistent curve up to those lengths. If you draw that bow 28 inches, you are going past the peak performance point and the draw weight will increase sharply and your accuracy will suffer.


Conversely, if you only draw a 70-inch bow to 26 inches, you are never going to reach to the peak performance point. Not reaching the peak point is not as big a problem as overdrawing a bow, however you’ll be sacrificing arrow speed, which is crucial for target shooters.


(Below is a sequence of photos which show, from top to bottom, the tip of a recurve bow in the under drawn, correct and overdrawn position.)



We understand that with all the different bow length, choosing the proper size bow can be challenging. If you are unsure or have any questions please feel to visit our shop at and check out our “How to” blog – or contact us at brandon@bestofarchery with any other questions about choosing the right archery equipment – or ask a coach or your local pro shop technician.

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