Bow Poundage


I had to shoot with 40# OTF for a while when a new bow did not measure up as expected. When you have a 32” draw that is not ideal. (I had been shooting 49#). However, I proceeded to shoot a bunch of PBs, including an 1100 York and won a bunch of shoots. So ended up with 43# when they sent me the right limbs. That was back in the 1990s. Did end up at 46 to 47 a few years later but I was shooting every day. Any more than that and I needed to go up spine which in theory wasn’t a bad thing but in practice was.

Unfortunately a lot of folks hear “Brady is shooting 53” and seem to think that is a reasonable goal because they shot a nice group in the 10 with it once. Or maybe they thing 47# as a reasonable compromise... nuts, unless you are shooting 1000 good arrows a week.

With my current bow I reckon I *could* be competitive with 38# if I put the time in. It’s pushing out a spine that I would have needed 43# to tune even ten years ago.

Unfortunately for strong folks a higher draw weight can mask some terrible technique flaws so they will argue that they shoot better on 47# while smashing a solid 520 18m :unsure:


Brady is currently shooting 47. He said that he has learned to settle for what he can manage well rather than shooting what he thinks he ought to.


Interesting subject this, I’ve not really seen the macho poundage thing at our club but can relate to it from martial arts where someone would get a wall bag and start punching as hard as possible right away tearing the knuckles up and then not being able to do anything for a few weeks, rather than starting light and letting the fists get conditioned.
I started with 28lb limbs shooting something like 25 otf in July and now have 30lb limbs roughly 32lb otf which I can definitely feel after a 3 hour shoot, with no target draw weight in mind I’ll just move up as and when I feel ready.
Oh yeah also own a 48lb longbow but that doesn’t really count as it’s a different draw technique, but I do want to try warbow poundage eventually

English Bowman

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I shoot 65lbs for my field bow. I used to shoot 70, but came down in weight when circumstances meant that I couldn't shoot as often as I used to. For target I shoot 45lbs as I've got a good bow and it'll get me point on at 100yds, so I don't need more. This is with my main style, which is Longbow. When I'm shooting recurve I'll use a 38lbs bow, although I also have a set of 48lbs limbs, but they don't come out very often, the idea was I could use them if I ever shot barebow field, but I'm still happy with the longbow.


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I started on 50lbs they went up to 55; that was doing target archery and for the big rounds, it started to hurt.
So I dropped to about 52lbs, switched to field and am totally comfortable with it.
What felt like an inconsistent draw cycle was almost certainly just me but on those occasions it does feel like a hard draw, I just pull it through.

As mentioned the flatter trajectory is handy if our distance judgement is poor; which mine is.
Eminently sensible. I've always shot 60 and in the early days it was purely macho BS but with recent events I'm going to have to drop it back and build up to it again - it's just soooo much work. Might even have to drop down to a set of 500s. Yay - new arrows.
P.S. I get the inconsistent draw thing going on - there's a lumpy hard bit about half way then it goes all easier again. :unsure:


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For compound I always shot 60lb, indoors & outdoors. I used to shoot five times a week or more. I could shoot 300 arrows a day without feeling tired. But there were two elements that affected this bow weight. Amouut of practice was one, but draw timing was the other. It was absolutely imperative that my draw timing matched the cam profile. As wheels went to soft cams then hard cams this draw profile changed but during shooting I would have no sensation of draw effort at all. My body could deal with it without any concious awareness. Coming down from full draw was always very hard and messy as I had no timing for it so it must have been the timing of the draw that made it effortless.


Coming down from full draw was always very hard and messy as I had no timing for it so it must have been the timing of the draw that made it effortless.
Hi KidCurry,
I always found coming down from full draw difficult. I know some first time compounders find coming down difficult too.... even to the point of letting go!!
I always put that down to not having any experience of what to expect. I deliberately practised letting down, (as a precaution so I didn't have to worry about it if I needed to for some reason) and found I got used to it after a few attempts.
I agree that different profile cams need a different timing. I think we learn when to put in the bigger effort in order to keep the movements going. It's a bit like riding a bike up a hill, some hills need bigger efforts at different parts of the slope. We learn which hills require the bigger efforts and at what stage on each hill.


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I find drawing down tricky too; it just feels like the arrow might ping off with not enough control particularly when it jumps off the rest (very rarely nowadays).


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I attended several county led “performance improvement classes” last year and became exasperated hearing the coaching staff time and time again tell candidates they needed to be shooting heavier limbs despite the individuals being able to consistently shoot good groups at distances appropriate for their age & gender using the reason ‘others your age shoot blah blah pound limbs so you should too’.

I shoot 55# OTF with my longbow and that allows me to be point on gold at 100yds and shoot a Hereford without falling apart. My recurve draws at 44# OTF with 40# G3’s - now I can get a sight mark drawing 36# OTF (W&W carbon limbs) but my groups are much tighter with the higher draw weight simply because our field has a constant crosswind of varying strength & the faster arrow helps me combat this.

Indoor recurve I drop to 26# limbs - no point going over that in my mind for 20yds and zero wind.

I think a great many archers are overbowed not so much due to machismo but rather, as has been previously suggested, by seeing what ‘top’ archers are shooting and thinking that’s what they need to succeed/improve.

A higher poundage bow will give you a flatter arrow trajectory.

This is useful in field shooting unmarked distances; the effect will be that a misjudgment of the distance will not be so catastrophic due to less drop of the arrow.
This is one of the reasons I tend to prefer a higher poundage (currently on 45, I own a 60lb Samick Mind50, but generally draw that to about 55-ish). In a dense undergrowth woodland field course, NOT having to worry about low boughs along the arrow-path is a distinct advantage at times. (it also helps that both my bows are 50" horse-bows). For reference - my normal club is Magna Carta.... in amongst the rhododendrons !

But also there is an element of feeling satisfied about being able to control a powerful weapon - I won't deny that.


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I suffered from the macho poundage thing; I have trained very hard all my life. I can fairly easily do 100 push ups, 25 pulls ups, all sorts of weird "stunts" like the yoga Scorpion and Le Parkeur flag. In most circumstances I am pretty "strong" and have plenty of endurance but I think you ned to chuck all of that out of the window when it comes to bow poundage.
Just experiment. Try different draw weights and I believe that you'll simply find a sweet spot almost unrelated to any other measurements of strength or endurance.


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I suffered from the macho poundage thing; I have trained very hard all my life. I can fairly easily do 100 push ups, 25 pulls ups, all sorts of weird "stunts" like the yoga Scorpion and Le Parkeur flag. In most circumstances I am pretty "strong" and have plenty of endurance but I think you need to chuck all of that out of the window when it comes to bow poundage.
Just experiment. Try different draw weights and I believe that you'll simply find a sweet spot almost unrelated to any other measurements of strength or endurance.
I would say that is partly true. You do not need strength to draw a heavy bow. You need good technique to draw it once and stamina to keep drawing it, but not strength. Good technique means using the right muscle groups at the right time. I would hazard a guess that most male archers between the age of 18 and 60, using the right technique and practice could easily draw a 60lb compound with a reasonably aggressive cam. Women would not be far behind.
Now I shoot barebow after a layoff from compound. I started at 32lb 18 months ago. It was my limit then to keep control and focus on good form. After 18 months of steady progress I now shoot 42lb limbs at 29" draw, probably about 43lb. It is easier now than when I started at 32lb. I could probably draw 46 okay but I wouldn't have the control. So why is it I could shoot 60lb compounds all day and 43lb recurve all day?
Well for one I always shoot at least 8 arrows an end in practice and often 12. This means shooting six in an end at tournaments is no problem. Second I shoot over 200 arrows during a practice round session for endurance. During form practice I focus on using the correct form to employ the big muscle groups and using them at the right time with good alignment and getting the breathing right which make a big difference. It took some time to switch from compound draw to recurve draw as these muscle groups have different timings for compound and recurve.
I'm 58, I'm not strong or fit, 20 push ups would probably kill me and pull ups... well, why would you? So all I have going for me is upper body stamina and the knowledge of what muscles to use and when to use them. Poor form will waste massive amounts of energy.
If archers want to pull heavier bows and don't want to be coached, or are being coached, you need to:
1. Read a lot about good technique and muscle groups. It's not enough to know you need to use back muscles. You need to know how to use them, what their role is and when to use them. Make sure you use good alignment.
2. Watch a lot more archers with good technique, especially Korean women. They are all slightly different but probably the best of the best for form.
3. Listen to coaches that are teaching archers near you how to use good technique.
4. Practice good technique. Practice good technique a lot.
...... and when you have done that, read even more, watch even more, listen even more,
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I find this an interesting topic.
Beginners tend to fall into two groups; those who seem to be "naturals" and those who seem a bit awkward and struggle a bit.
I know that is a bit over simplified, but it does seem to me that the "naturals" set themselves apart from the rest, by making the draw look easy.
It's as if they have done it before hundreds of times.
Most of the "looking awkward" or "making it look easy" seems to be associated with drawing the bow to the face.
The "shape" of the draw is the name I use when explaining the draw. To my way of thinking, getting the draw done with ease, has to be a very important part of getting good shots happening. Those who struggle with the draw tend to want to get rid of the arrow as if the string is red hot against their face.
Those who struggle with the draw tend to struggle to land their draw hand in the same place each time and struggle with repeating the same draw length. That's not a great start.
Spending time getting the draw done well( with ease) isn't just about low draw weight. As KidCurry says it's a technique that has to be learned.
Sometimes a low draw weight makes it easier to learn the right technique; just as being over bowed can lead to a poor technique for drawing.


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Beginners who make it look easy frequently have background in other sports that have given them extremely good body awareness. Top of the tree for me has been martial arts - shooting competitive draw weights to 560+ indoor scores in under a year. (Taekwondo and one of the Karate - both high belts). But also folks with racket sports (me included), dance and yoga. If you know where your hand is and you can put it where you are told then it is much easier. Body control is a great start in this sport.

On the other hand sports like rugby, weightlifting, football etc have the fitness but not so often the awareness. They have to learn it. That can be a problem if the “sporty” person perceives that they are “not as good” as the weedy geek.

No hard and fast rules becomes some folks are born with it, others learn it. Once you learn it, you’re not at much of a disadvantage, just a bit behind on the curve.

Unfortunately some never really learn it. While they do improve, what they think they look like never matches what they really look like. But even that person can become very good but they will work with a coach their entire career. The coach will help them put it into muscle memory.



Yes, "some never learn it". Sometimes I feel the way the bow is drawn needs a bit more emphasis.
I am not talking about high level archers with coaches etc.
Grass roots archers could, in many cases, shoot with more enjoyment if they changed the way they draw the bow.


Yes, Geoff, I agree. This comes down to words and how we say things again. Was speaking with my coach about exactly that and he suggested we stop saying "draw the bow" or "bring the string to your face" in favour of "put your hook on and come to full alignment" after obviously explaining, demonstrating and stretchy-banding it. Right from the start this would emphasize what is required of the archer. I have been coaching cricket to much younger children than normal for the last couple of years (aged 5 and some only just turned 5) and it doesn't half concentrate the mind when it comes to how we say things and how much prior understanding/ability people have. Little kids will often interact more readily than archers on beginners courses; "with a partner, stand opposite each other, and throw the ball to each other" usually ends up with balls all over the place because you didn't say catch! Then when you clarify what you want them to do, you'll always be asked "how do I catch the ball? I can't catch!" This is no different than on session one saying, "turn your head to look at the target, raise your bow and draw the string to your face", but how?! You can draw the string to your face in many ways, not all very well. Worse still, the arrow goes in the middle of the target that's only 10yds away (even if no faces are being used), and the outcome confirms to the archer's mind that what they did was good...

The difficulty lies in the desire of new archers on beginners courses and some of the instructors to get shooting as soon as possible. It's very easy for bad habits to start right away and often not be corrected before the end of the beginners course; without intervention, these become embedded early in the few weeks immediately following the beginners course when new archers are often just left to plough their own furrow.

We discussed whether or not a pre-beginners course meeting would be appropriate to filter those who see the beginners course and archery as an extension of a Centerparcs style have-a-go activity and those who are prepared to not shoot a bow immediately for the benefit of their longer term archery. Club resources could be better allocated based on this. Obviously, there'll be those who initially think they just want to plank a few arrows down the field once a month who end up obsessed and competitive and that's to be expected.


What I notice with many new archers is a tendency to want to point the sight at the gold all through the draw. Their focus during the draw is on keeping the sight still. That is often made worse by trying to draw the string back in a straight line so the string can be seen against the sight all through the draw.
When they think like that, the draw is a real struggle. It does seem to them, to be the right way to draw a bow, so it takes time and demonstrations to convince them. There is a sort of reluctance to draw with things out of line at the start. It's as if we are telling them to do something that is wrong,.
Sometimes I hear a helper suggesting they, " Pull the string straight back." The helper means straight away, without fuss or delay; but the beginner thinks the straight line is what is wanted.
I don't use target faces for the first few sessions until a good draw has started to develop. It takes a bit of effort over a few sessions to show that the easy draw is not straight and that the bow isn't facing the gold all the time. I use an elbow sling with a stretch cord so I can draw the cord with my elbow and never touch it with my hand. I point out that the elbow has to follow a curve and they see the cord starts well out of line at the start and stays out of line for over half the draw. It comes into line in the last few inches of the draw, so the draw approaches the face from the side.
I follow that with a bow and they see the arrow pointing across to my left and the string over to the right of the bow hand until the string is close to my face.
After the beginners' course, we run follow on sessions for those who join the club. I spend a fair bit of time going through the draw on those sessions, too.


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I’m totally happy with my draw until the last 1/4 or so. For some reason I don’t feel 100% confident; I think it follows draw wobble issues a while back. However I do draw it fine dozens of times; it’s just a little voice of doubt I get sometimes. Something I need to completely get over (TBH I’m a lot better than I was); once drawn. I’m completely fine.

I’m a lifelong martial artist (briefly 4th in the UK, middleweight kickboxing, got to brown belt karate), do weird gymnastic tricks (the Flag, the yoga Scorpion, can L sit into handstand, etc) which mostly helps but it can also introduce an overconfidence which isn’t helpful.


I think that it is very easy to go down the route of seeing the best in videos and all the internet can offer, and wanting to follow that example.
But I see archery in a different way. I compare it, in one respect, to learning to ride a bike.
We have a go to ride, and fall off, or put one foot down and carry on trying. Then , after many failed attempts we get a wobbly success and feel the thrill of balancing and moving forward. That is often scary as we haven't learned to stop at that stage. But, in a very short time we are riding well and soon we try it with no hands.
After that, we can ride; and there is little else to learn...... unless you want to win medals. Road safety obviously, but that doesn't improve your balance.
The connection between riding a bike and archery can seem obscure, but I think that making a sound release is the equivalent of learning to balance without falling off. The release is the bit that we do, in most cases, without realising how we manage it. Balancing is something we learn without having to read to find out how it's done. Certainly copying a cyclist is no real help while you are still putting a foot down every yard or so.
With a bike there is one goal, to get to ride without falling off. There are no complications added to make it harder. We don't start our first attempt in busy traffic or on a crowded pavement. Or try to ride between two cones.
I feel that the first thing in archery to get right, is the release. It helps to have a good draw style; just as it helps the rider to have a bike that is a decent size for them.
The thrill for the rider of balancing should be matched for the archer by the thrill of releasing the arrows well. There should be excitement at the launch; not a disappointment at missing. Shooting up a field( safely) is a great way to feel like a kid again. No boss to catch the arrows. The stronger the form becomes, the further the arrows go.
I have never got excited by planting my foot markers, or wearing my sling. Drawing the bow can feel good as you feel you are in command of the power of the limbs; but the launch is the bit that all the work has been leading up to. The follow through adds a certain amount of feel good factor , too.... if the launch went well.
Absolutely!! That's why I glad that I can draw 50# again on my Ozark Hunter by OMP. October Mountain Products build such great recurves, but their stickbows need extensive modification to make them shoot well. The Howard Hill method of gap shooting works, and I can shoot this hotrod all day.