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What Size Compound Bow Do I Need

man shooting with his compound bow
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Once you have grasped the art of the bull’s-eye shot, you then become all set to explore something with greater flamboyance. You probably want to roam the field archery trails or explore the woods for gobblers such as Katniss. But are you tired of the old wheel set you have been using, and looking to upgrade? Not car wheels, but rather cams and wheels. If yes, then compound archery is something you should give a try.

What do we mean when we talk about cams, wheels, limbs, and stabilizers? These acronyms and terminologies should not overwhelm you while YouTube-ing and Googling compound archery. Instead, the following article should point you in the right direction to choose an ideal compound archery bow, whether for shooting or hunting.

Follow these steps to determine the perfect compound bow before you set out to shop and you will be prepared to take on compound archery much faster.

Eye Dominance

First of all, you should establish your predominant eye. This has a catchy name – “ocular dominance” – and fundamentally implies that your brain has preferred visual input from a particular eye and takes the input of that eye to be “truer.”

For most people, the dominant eye is often the one on your writing hand side, the same as the throwing hand for baseball players. However, “switch-hitting” or “cross-dominance” is also a common thing. For example, you might be right-handed and still shoot left-handed since the left eye is more dominant. If you are unsure where to start, these steps should help you determine the dominant eye.

Put your hands at arm’s length and hold down your forefingers and thumbs together, forming a triangular opening.
Keep both eyes open and try looking through the triangle, centered on an object such as a doorknob.

Then close your eyes one after the other. If you cannot close your eyes individually through blinking, ask someone to help you cover it.

Note how the position of the doorknob is maintained in one eye and “jumps” when you use the other eye. The eye keeping the doorknob at the center of the triangle is the dominant eye. Archers with right-eye dominance are right-handed shooters and vice versa for those with left-eye dominance.

Draw Length

The next step is determining your draw length. Most archery stores can take quick and precise measurements, but here we will outline a DIY process to help you independently estimate your draw length.

Begin by measuring your wingspan. Form a “T” with your body by standing up straight with both your hands and arms stretched to your sides. Have someone measure from one tip of your middle finger to the other. Divide the figure that you get by 2.5 and you will get your estimated draw length. Archery pros need to take the measurement at least twice for precision and accuracy since you would not want to get a compound bow with a too long or too short draw length.

Axle-To-Axle Length

Axle-to-axle length is the measurement of the distance between the two cams of the bow. The cams are wheel-like gadgets that add power to the bow and are connected to its limb tips. If you are wondering what the essence of the measurement is, here is your answer: your axle-to-axle length needs to be measured according to your hunting or shooting type.

For example, extremely long bows can make single-seated tree stand or tight blind hunting a challenge. However, a longer bow would probably be easier to use when roaming open fields scouting turkeys on the ground or deer hunting from open platform tree stands.

Such a bow can also be advantageous in that usually the greater the length of the axle-to-axle bow measurement, the greater forgiveness there is while taking longer shots. Therefore, if you try targets at the far end of your vision, you could get an unrivaled campfire tale.

Draw Weight

Whether drawing your bow using a shoulder release or with your hands, you should be familiar with your draw weight. This is a measure of the number of pounds you can pull back or draw with your bow. Unfortunately, we do not have a magic formula to determine draw weights.

Begin by using low-poundage bows, especially if it is your first time drawing. You will be able to shoot farther and draw more weight with repeated usage of your bow-shooting muscles. To start, you can find a quality bow with greater ease and one that has adjustable draw weights and draw lengths. The bows of today “grow” with your advancement from paper targets to 3D targets, and finally on to bow hunting. This implies that you can easily change the draw weight and length as you strengthen archery muscles and pick up shooting skills.

compound bow and arrow lying on ring paper target

Tips While Choosing The Ideal Bow Size

In order to know the type of bow length to go for, you now need tips that will guide you to ensure you buy the correct bow. In addition, the tips below will help you avoid being persuaded into getting bows that might cause you to over-bow.

#1 – Do Not Follow The Height

Most people tend to use charts designed to assist in identifying bow sizes. For example, one such chart suggests arm span is no different from height. Therefore, knowing your height means that you can calculate your draw length from the height and, consequently, the bow size.

In general, your height and arm span are quite similar and, in some instances, almost identical. Nonetheless, the test is not a sure bet. For example, some people might have the same height but different arm spans.

#2 – Bow Size Is Not Determined By Age

In some instances, people are advised to pick a certain bow size depending on their age. Usually, this is done as we look for youth bows, and the advice should not be taken seriously. The fact that a person is a certain age should not mean that a different person of the same age will have a similar draw length and a bow of the same size as the first person. Your draw length should be measured manually to identify the correct bow to use.


All of the information provided above should be put into consideration before you decide on a compound bow. A one-size-fits-all type of compound bow does not exist, and a bow that is effective for you might not be effective for a different person. All archers have their particular needs and skills, and you must therefore consider the highlighted points before settling for a compound bow.