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How do you calculate poundage on a Bow?


"Hello! I see you teach archery and I have a question. What do the numbers on a bow mean?

For example: 61 inch, 20#. I am guessing the 61 inch is the length of the bow because this is for a longbow. What does 20# mean? Is that the draw weight?

Also, if that is the draw weight, is 20 pounds a lot?


- Gregory R.


You are close, the 61" is the length of the bowstring - which would be roughly the length of the bow when strung.

The 20# should be followed by @XX where XX is the draw length. The 20# is the draw weight at that specific draw length, if you draw more than the listed length (the normal amount is usually 28") the weight will go up by so many extra lbs per inch (the exact amount depends on the poundage of the bow) and vice versa less draw length will also lower the poundage.

Make certain you are using the correct length bowstring as well because that can so affect the draw weight. Hope this helps.

In answer to your 2nd question, no, 20 lbs is actually not a lot. Of the 4 bows I currently own I have an 18 lb, a 24 lb, a 30 lb and a 34 lb. The 34 lb recurve is the bow I reserve for myself. The other bows I teach with. A 12-year-old can usually handle a 20-lb bow (although because their arms are shorter they are really only using about 12 - 15 lbs of force to pull it back to their full draw), although it really comes down to personal preference in terms of what you feel comfortable with pulling and your arms not shaking.

[Update: Since writing this I have purchased quite a few more bows. I am up to 8 and a half as of October 2013. Where does the extra half come from? Extra limbs for takedown bows. For a full list of my available equipment see the equipment section on the Archery Lessons page.]

If you are using a 20-lb bow and feel it is too easy for you then you may wish to upgrade to a higher poundage bow by either selling your current bow and buying a better one, or keeping it for friends and get a 2nd bow with a higher poundage (or getting higher poundage limbs if your bow is a three piece takedown).

As you progress as an archer you will discover that you will start to want higher poundages so you can improve your strength and accuracy, but don't go immediately leaping up to the really high poundages because you want to be able to shoot the bow 200 times in a day without causing yourself serious back pain - which will happen if you try to shoot a bow that you don't have the necessary strength and endurance to use properly.

The higher the poundage the more range and accuracy you will get, although I should point out that at shorter ranges you will discover you have to aim really low if you have a bow with a really high poundage and this sometimes messes with your head when trying to figure out where to aim.

My advice is to use a bow which challenges you a small bit physically, but isn't going to cause you pain or is going to be difficult for you to hold steady and aim properly.

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