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Bowhunting Guns & Gear Tips & Tactics

Determining Your Draw Weight

by Melissa Bachman   |  September 12th, 2011 31

As the peak of hunting season is fast approaching many people are doing the final tweaks to their gear and equipment.  If cranking up your draw weight was something you had in mind, you may want to rethink your decision.

I’m all about putting a little speed behind that arrow but you want to be careful you don’t take it too far.  In the summer you usually have jeans and a t-shirt on when shooting so drawing is easy.  Once you layer up for that below freezing weathering drawing can be an extremely different experience.

Bulky clothes can cause difficulty drawing and can leave you stranded on stand if you’re draw weight is too high.  You may also loose that smooth draw motion with a heavier weight causing a lot of movement therefore increasing your odds of spooking game.

A heavy draw weight in a ground blind can cause problems as well.  If you need to arch your bow in anyway when you draw this could be a disaster in a blind.  Imagine having a beautiful buck at 20-yards from your blind as you struggle to draw and raise your bow the top limb hits the window spooking him away.  Now that added speed only hurt you since you now have nothing to shoot at.

A good way to find your perfect draw weight can be at the range.  Try shooting with your big coat on or sitting in a chair and drawing with your feet off the ground.  If you can still easily draw, your weight should be in check. I also like to practice shooting from a sitting position on a chair, kneeling, and even sitting on the ground.

The reason for this is simple.  You always want to be prepared for the most awkward shot in case you get caught off guard and can’t get to your normal standing position.  This way you’ll have the confidence to make the shot, and your draw weight will be light enough to make any shot count.



  • ron barnes

    draw weight.omg sista.i had a stroke in april and usually shoot 60 lbs.after hours of rehab,and more to come,i had to buy a 40to50 lb bow.the 40 seems ok for now.when i get to 50,ill change the limbs on the alphamax to 50to60.maybe this can help others that have had strokes,not to throw in the towel when you cant do what you did before right away,start light and build up.O BY THE WAY,CUTE SANDLES…..

  • Rob

    om marry me ! i wish i had a gf to bow hunt with

  • Bob Hagen

    Do you normally wear an arm guard while hunting?

    • Melissa Bachman

      No, I don't usually wear an arm guard unless I have extremely bulky clothes on during a late season hunt.

      • Frank Grunseich

        I don't wear an armguard to protect my arm but, with bulky clothing, it's more important to keep the billowy clothing from getting hit by the string! The guard keeps the material under control in case your movement causes it to bunch up.

  • A Reel Lady

    Lovin' the bow girl! And totally spot on! You never know how or when you'll get a shot, so you have to practice everything!

    • Melissa Bachman

      I am really liking the Jewel…It's been a great long distance bow and is shooting great!

      • Valerie

        The Jewel is AWESOME!!!! I wish I had gotten it sooner. No shooting with it this year hope to next year.

  • Brian Freeman

    Do you recommend beginners start out with lighter draw weight and then increase it as they become comfortable with shooting?

    • Melissa Bachman

      I always recommend starting beginners out at a lower draw weight because the more they shoot the stronger their muscles will become. Drawing a bow takes muscles most people never use, so they more they shoot the stronger those specific muscles will become.

  • Chad

    How can we concentrate with a chick w/a bow in a tank top…my day is shot!

  • Jack bettencourt

    Nicely done article and appreciated by most of us. Truth is there are many out there over-weighted but they'll only come to that conclusion when they can't draw their bow on that cold, crisp morning while kneeling in a blind!






    • Melissa Bachman

      Larry, I always shoot with a quiver on. I like to have a second arrow readily available. It does change your shooting a bit but if you notice I have a GO Pro Camera mounted to the opposite side so they really balance each other out nicely…the bottom line is to practice the way you plan to hunt.

  • Dick

    Ms. Bachman;

    Very good article that should help new and old archer's alike. We use the example of sitting in a chair to see if you are over-bowed in our IBEP hunter safety class but picking up your feet is even better. Thank you for a job well done.

  • mike lounsbury

    i find that shooting with quiver on adds a bit more noise and weight but the up side is that it helps break up your features with full quiver also easier to grab another arrow without making big moves that will scare off second deer just remember no white vanes during hunting season deer pick it up instantly.

    • Melissa Bachman

      No worries on white…I prefer all PINK accessories :) Even with all the extra bling and color I add to my bows I've never had an animal pick up on this…including when I spot and stalked turkeys this spring in Texas. I figure if I can fool a turkey's eyesight on the ground, a deer should be easy!

  • http://petersonhunting tom montgomery

    good artical thanks melissa. tom montgomery kansa bow hunter.

  • Eddie Matthews

    Reply to Ron barnes:


  • Bill Hamann Jr.

    I fully agree with you Melissa. About 3 years ago I was hunting in a tree stand and it was 8 degrees below zero that afternoon. My bow was set at 80 lbs. and I tried drawing back on a doe (for meat), and I couldn't pull it back……….so, I went to the archery shop, and we turned it down to 72 lbs. draw and the next day I was able to easily draw it back in the cold. I was so used to drawing it back for practice in temperatures that were 30-40 degrees warmer, that it never occurred to me that after sitting in sub-zero temperatures, your body stiffens up after sitting for 2+ hours. I'm just glad it wasn't a Pope & Young.

  • Josh Harmon

    I used to think that draw weight had little to no impact on my distance and patterns. I shot a 60lb Fred Bear all through highschool and into college, but was unable to make some of the shots needed ( I live in northwest Ohio so the land is flat flat flat). Sophomore year of college I decided that I needed a better bow with a heavier draw weight, so I went out and purchased a 70lb Mathews DXT. I thought that this was the perfect bow until I got on the range. Alot of shots that I experience in Ohio are in the range from 30 to even 60 yards, but my Mathews was unaccurate past 45. Curiousity got the best of me so I got on Ebay and started to piece together a custom bow. I made it so that I had a 90lb draw weight and put a multi-rest overdraw on it. This paired with shortened, fat, aluminum arrows was the fastest, most accurate bow that I have ever shot. Now it is easy for me to put together a palm sized pattern at 60+ yards. Only bad part is that my right shoulder is alot bigger than my left from repeatedly drawing 90lbs.

  • Chris

    Haha man you never need a 90lb draw If you couldn't group at over 45 yards with a matthews it's prolly not the bows fault. I shoot a PSE bow madness 71 pound 28 inch and I can group great at 60 and good at 70lb. Alos took a b/s shot at a doe last year at 90 yards and smoked her You just have to push your skills at those long distances with pratice. Oh and nice bow melissa and congrats on all the big game it's put on the ground.

  • Dawn

    Hi Melissa,
    I'm a 47 year old, 5'2", 120# woman wanting to start bow hunting. I've hunted for years with rifles, but always wanted to try the bow…. so, now's the time. Do you have any suggestions on what to start with? I'm a true newbie, so any advice would be greatly appreciated. Draw weight seems to be the most confusing to me.

  • Cathy

    Hi Melissa,,

    First off thank you for showing the world that women can be serious contenders in the hunting world.

    I am a beginner bow hunter and found out that I need to shoot left handed due to left eye dominance (I shoot gun right handed). Currently my bow's draw weight is set at the lowest setting. I intend to practice frequently to build up my left arm using the different positions you recommended above and was wondering at what point should I begin to increase my draw weight to build strength.

    Thanks for sharing your knowledge! Keep up the great work!

  • krister engvoll

    Melissa, I really like your videos, and your sites. After shooting trad bows virtually all my life, and various modern recurves (trad/barebow, no sigths) i have gone the way and ordered a compound bow. I did have one for a year or so earlier, but it was too heavy the DL didnt fit. anyway, i love the looks of your bow, knowing looks doesnt count much though… What sight is it you are using, or would recommend? And wha stab. is that.


  • Melissa Bachman

    @Krister Engvoll- The site is an HHA Optimizer Lite and I really love it, the stabilizer is called a Nomadic Stabilizer made by Vital Gear.

  • Live&learn

    Thanks for the 'feet up' tip. Never occured to me to do that, but elevated feet do make it harder to do core activities.
    You're so correct on clothing and cold conditions. Years back I hunted in extreme cold conditions and thought because I was flexing while on stand, I was keeping muscles warm. When the time came to shoot, I couldn't draw back the bow. After walking back to the truck, drawing was no problem at all. Lessons learned.

  • chris alisi

    I will soon be 79 years old and I still climb trees and bow hunt I am now shooting a draw weight of 47 #
    and have no trouble hitting and killing deer out to 28 yards and truth be known most bow kills are in
    that range I shoot an alpine archery bow and I fiind that it does what I need it to do
    I also intend to hunt until i,m at least 90 I think a lot of guys stop hunting too soon

  • Taylor Carswell

    I'm 14 and I want to start Bow Hunting but I don't know where to start since my dad hunts with a rifle. I wanted to know what was your first compound bow because I shoot a recurve in competitions and have never handled a compound before. I go hunting with my dad all the time though.

    • Morgan Kay

      Taylor- My first bow I started out with was a Parker SideKick Extreme. I love it. It fit me comfortably and was light enough for me to handle. You can start at a low poundage and move up as you get stronger. That is what I have done and I am amazed by how just practicing has made me so much stronger. I also like the Parker SideKick because its grip fits my hand well. I would try a few out and see whats comfortable for you. It takes a lot of practice and dedication but when you hit a target or a deer just right the feeling is extremely unbelievably rewarding! good luck!

    • Tom Bennett

      Look at the bear bow line up they have a few nice bows out for younger hunters

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