What is Draw Weight and are bows really that hard to pull back?

“I tried archery once, it wasn’t for me”

Said Nobody, Ever.

Hello archers and future archers! welcome to the Soul Archer website and Blog. Please feel free to leave a comment at the bottom or ask any questions you may have.

Today we are going to discuss how hard it is to Pull back a bow, or draw weight, and what that may mean for each of us.

Each traditional bow is different in some way. However, the Bow maker can adapt the materials used in construction to make it as easy or hard to pull back as necessary for the shooter.

First let me start by saying that here at Soul Archer we consider draw weight to be one of the most important factors to consider when buying your first bow. This can literally mean enjoying your shooting experience or hating it and ditching the sport.

So what is draw weight?

Draw weight is the weight or force required to draw (or pull back) a bows’ string.
This is usually measured at 28 inches, and is predominantly because the average person has a 28 inch (or thereabouts) draw length (Draw length is how far you can pull back the string. We will go into more detail in another blog as this is also very important!)
Something to consider at this point is that many traditional bows do not have a fixed draw weight, let me explain what this can mean.

Example: If an archer has a 30 pound bow then we can safely assume that the supplier measured that at 2 inches. The archer however may have a 26 inch draw. This means that they are not pulling back the full 30 pounds that the bow can deliver. This is because they are pulling back 2 inches less then what the bow was measured at.
In this case a good rule of thumb is to deduct 2 pounds per inch, so they may only be holding 26 pounds on their string.

Make sense? Maybe not. It took me a little while to understand.
Perhaps the numbers and image below will help.

If the bow is 30 Pounds then:
Draw length                                       Drawn Weight

28 inches                                             30 pounds

27 inches                                             28 pounds

26 inches                                             26 pounds

The same occurs in reverse, so perhaps the archer is tall and has long arms his/her draw length may be 29 or 30 inches:

Draw Length                                      Drawn Weight

29 inches                                             32 pounds

30 inches                                             34 pounds


This occurs because it is widely agreed that traditional bows DO NOT have a fixed draw weight and that the draw at 28 inches is merely a benchmark, let us remember that in days long past, bows were often used in times of war as well as tools to harvest game for the dinner pot, among other things. A bow made by a Bowyer would most likely be expected to be used by several people in a family, and possibly even sold on at some stage to another owner.
This is in stark contrast to modern bows which mostly need to be tailored specifically to the individual shooter!

Let us summarise what we have learned

  1. Draw Weight is how hard/heavy it is to pull a bow back all the way to 28 inches
  2. Draw Weight is always measured at 28 inches unless otherwise specified
  3. If you draw the bow back to less or more then 28 inches then you will have less or more power in the bow

In the next article we learn what Draw weight is right for you and what draw length is ?

Thank you and like always
Keep it Traditional

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