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Starting out with archery can be incredibly exciting. But it can also be confusing when it comes to knowing how to select the best bow for your needs. Most beginners usually start with recurve bows because they are less complicated and are readily available both online and in local archery stores.
But what size recurve bow do I need? Usually, you can work out the size of recurve bow that you need as an archer by calculating your draw length. This measurement is usually collected by figuring out your wingspan and then dividing that figure by 2 ½. This gives you a great starting point for finding the perfect size of recurve bow for you.
Of course, that is just a simple overview.
There is a little more to it than that!
So keep reading to learn all you need to ensure you get the right recurve bow for you!
Trust me, it’s worth getting right – so do stick around and read until the end!
How Do You Determine What Size Bow You Need?
Working out the correct size for a recurve bow depends on two main factors – what you want to do with the bow and what your draw length is. Using your recurve bow for hunting requires slightly different demands than if you’re just using it while target shooting at your local range.
Two main measurements can help archers to choose a new bow – their draw length and the draw weight that they want.
The draw weight refers to how much force is needed to pull the bow back to full draw.
For beginners, 25 lbs (about 11 kg) is a good draw weight to aim for as it is less physically demanding.
It’s also a more than adequate weight if you just want to shoot at archery targets.
But if you plan on hunting game with a recurve bow, you’ll need something with a bit more punch to get through layers of skin and fat on game like deer or elk.
Recurve bows that are used for hunting typically require a draw weight of at least 40 lbs (18 kg). A heavier draw weight requires more effort to aim as well.
If you’re an absolute novice at archery, it’s best to avoid bow hunting for a while.
The higher draw weights required for hunting bows take more force to use safely and effectively.
Regardless of the draw weight of your first bow, you’ll need time to get used to the motion of shooting and to train and build your shooting muscles.
As you become more comfortable, you can progress to using heavier draw weights.
The draw length is the most important measurement when choosing a recurve bow, not height as many people believe.
While your height can be a factor, you’ll be pulling the bow back with your arms.
Calculating your draw length gives you a ballpark figure to use when selecting the right recurve bow size.
To figure out your draw length, measure the wingspan of your outstretched arms and then divide that figure by 2 ½ to reach a rough figure.
How Do You Size Yourself For A Recurve Bow?
Sizing yourself for a recurve bow involves taking a measurement from your body and then doing a simple calculation to land on a rough estimate for your ideal draw length. You’ll need a measuring tape and someone to help you with this. Here’s a quick step-by-step guide to sizing yourself for a recurve bow:
Step One: Find Your Wingspan
Stand still and raise your arms up to show your wingspan. You don’t need to stretch as far as you can here. Just perform the motion in a natural, relaxed way.
Step Two: Measure Your Wingspan
Ask someone to use the measuring tape to measure your wingspan – the distance between the tip of your outstretched hands on either side.
Step Three: Run The Calculation
Take this measurement and then divide it by 2 ½ to figure out a rough estimate of your draw length.
For example, let’s say that your wingspan measures 70 inches (178 cm). When we divide this figure by 2 ½, we get a result of 28 inches (71 cm). This is the ballpark figure for your draw length to help you find the right size of recurve bow.
Step Four: Find Your Bow
To use your draw length to calculate the relative size of recurve bow that you need, take your draw length measurement and double it.
This number gives you a solid foundation to work from. A suitable recurve bow should roughly measure between twice and three times as long as your draw length.
So in our example, our draw length of 28 inches gives us a rough recurve bow size of 56 to 70 inches (142 to 178 cm).
We can now start looking for recurve bows of this size.
Finding the right size of recurve bow for your individual needs as an archer is important because it helps give you a good foundation when developing your skills.
Feeling comfortable while shooting is a big part of being accurate. If you’re struggling to hold your bow in a balanced way, your accuracy will reflect that.
It’s normally recommended to choose a bow that is longer than this ballpark figure that we’ve reached.
A longer bow is going to be easier and smoother to draw, although it will also be slower to draw as well.
For target shooting, this isn’t really a problem.
But if you’re hunting, using a bow that is longer can be detrimental when trying to track your quarry through dense terrain.
What Is A Good Size For A Recurve Bow?
Most archers can be pretty comfortable with a recurve bow that is at least twice as long as the draw length that they worked out using the method described above. It may take some trial and error to find the exact size that fits your needs, but it is possible to work out a relative size band to look into.
By working out your draw length, you can start to narrow down which sizes of recurve bow you should look into when choosing one.
Here’s a simple approximate chart of the bow sizes that work with various draw lengths:
|Measured Draw Length |
|Estimated Ideal Recurve Bow Size |
|14″ to 16″||48″|
|17″ to 20″||54″|
|20″ to 22″||58″|
|22″ to 24″||60″ to 62″|
|24″ to 26″||64″ to 66″|
|26″ to 28″||66″ to 68″|
|28″ to 30″||68″ to 70″|
|Over 31″||70″ to 62″|
You can also use your height to fine-tune the ideal length of a recurve bow that matches the parameters of your body.
While this won’t narrow the specific length down exactly, it can help to eliminate sizes that aren’t going to be comfortable.
Here’s a simple table to help you use your height to track down the right size recurve bow:
|Estimated Height of Archer |
|Estimated Ideal Recurve Bow Size |
|Up to 5 foot 6″||64″|
|Up to 5 foot 10″||66″|
|Up to 6 foot 2″||68″|
|6 foot 2″ and over||70″|
Using these tables, we can start to pin down the right size of recurve bow for us as individual archers.
When trying to choose the size of recurve bow that you use, you want to find one that is comfortable and easy to hold in your hand.
How To Choose A Recurve Bow Size
By gathering the right measurements and consulting the tables in the previous section, you can work out an approximate size of recurve bow that should work well for you. However, this is only half of the battle, as you still need to test a bow to get a true sense of how suitable it is for you.
While these tables aren’t going to provide the exact match for every archer, they can be used to inform how you go about looking for a recurve bow.
Cross-reference the two measurements – your draw length and your body height – to help refine the possible options until you have found the right bow size to start investigating.
This is especially useful for beginners who are still concentrating on developing their archery form.
You don’t need to spend time agonizing over getting the exact right size of recurve bow.
As long as you’re in the correct size bracket for your draw length and height, you can go from there.
Remember our example from earlier?
We worked out our draw length to be 28 inches. If we assume that we’re around 6 feet tall, we can now scale down our search to a specific size of recurve bow.
When taking our measurements into account, we’re looking for a recurve bow that’s between 68 and 70 inches long.
When shopping for a recurve bow, it’s always recommended to test a potential bow out first.
See if you can at least hold the bow and do a mock draw to see how it feels to use. You should feel comfortable holding the bow that you want to use.
You’ll also want to ensure you go through a reputable store.
I personally love Bass Pro Shops – just look at their extensive range of recurve bows.
And you can discuss your order with a member of staff before and after making a purchase.
That way you can ensure you get the right bow, at the right size, for you.
Plus, they provide free returns/exchanges if you were to get it wrong.
It’s where I got mine, at least.
Next up: How Much Does A Recurve Bow Cost?
I live in Alberta, Canada where I enjoy indoor and 3D archery with traditional bows and compound bows. On this site, I share everything I’ve learned about archery along the way.