how to test draw weight on a compound bow



Compound bows are popular among archery enthusiasts due to their efficiency, accuracy, and power. However, they require careful tuning and adjustments to optimize their performance. One crucial aspect of compound bow tuning is determining and testing the draw weight. Draw weight refers to the amount of force required to pull the bowstring back into a full draw position. This article aims to guide you through the process of testing draw weight on a compound bow, ensuring you achieve maximum accuracy and comfort in your archery pursuits.

Understanding Draw Weight:

Draw weight is a fundamental attribute of a compound bow, affecting its power, speed, and ease of use. It is essential to find the ideal draw weight that suits your physical strength and shooting preferences to ensure consistent accuracy and minimize strain or fatigue. The draw weight is typically measured in pounds and refers to the force needed to fully draw the bowstring, reaching the bow's specified draw length.

Factors Influencing Draw Weight:

Before diving into the precise methods of testing draw weight, it's essential to understand the various factors that can influence it. Here are some crucial factors to consider:

Bow Design:

Different compound bow designs can impact the draw weight. Some bows may have a specific draw weight range, while others offer adjustability within a given range. It is vital to check your bow's manufacturer guidelines to understand its design specifications.

Archer's Physical Strength:

An archer's physical strength plays a significant role in determining the suitable draw weight. An individual with greater upper body strength will be able to handle higher draw weights comfortably, while someone with less strength may struggle with the same weight.

Purpose of Use:

The purpose for which you intend to use your compound bow also affects the ideal draw weight. For hunting, a higher draw weight may be desired to achieve greater power and penetration. On the other hand, for target shooting or recreational archery, a lower draw weight may be more appropriate.

Draw Length:

Draw weight and draw length go hand in hand. Draw length refers to the distance between your bow's grip and the bowstring while at full draw. A longer draw length will generally result in higher draw weights, while a shorter draw length reduces the weight you need to pull.

Testing Draw Weight Methods:

Now that we have an understanding of the factors influencing draw weight let's explore some methods for testing it to find your optimal setting. Different archers may prefer varying techniques, but the following methods are widely practiced and effective:

Method 1: Bow Scale Method:

One of the most accurate ways to test the draw weight of your compound bow is by using a specialized bow scale. Follow these steps to perform the test:

1. Place your bow on a bow press to relieve tension from the limbs.

2. Attach the bow scale to the bowstring, making sure it is centered and secure.

3. Gradually draw the bowstring back using smooth and consistent force until you reach your full draw length.

4. Hold the bowstring at full draw for a few seconds while the scale records the weight.

5. Note the measured weight on the scale display. This weight represents your draw weight.

Using a bow scale allows for precise measurements, ensuring accuracy and repeatability. It is advisable to perform multiple tests to confirm consistency and obtain an average draw weight.

Method 2: Handheld Scale Method:

If you don't have access to a bow scale, an alternative method involves using a handheld scale and a few additional tools. Here's how you can proceed:

1. Attach a D-loop or string nocking point to your bowstring.

2. Attach a handheld scale to a D-loop or a string nocking point using a carabiner or a durable clip.

3. Stand in a proper shooting stance, ensuring safety precautions.

4. Hold your bow at a comfortable position, with your arm fully extended and parallel to the ground.

5. Use your other hand to pull the handheld scale's hook until the bowstring reaches full draw length.

6. Maintain your full draw position for a few seconds while the handheld scale records the weight.

7. Read the measured draw weight displayed on the scale.

Just like with the bow scale method, it is recommended to perform multiple tests to ensure consistency and take an average draw weight.

Method 3: Bathroom Scale Method:

If you do not have access to specialized testing equipment, you can use a bathroom scale in combination with a few household items to estimate your draw weight. Follow these steps:

1. Place a bathroom scale on the ground, ensuring it can sustain your weight plus the force applied during the test.

2. Set up a secured bow stand or find an assistant to hold your compound bow during the test.

3. Position the scale so that its front edge aligns with the riser of the bow, ensuring it won't interfere with your draw or shot.

4. Check that the scale is zeroed and functioning correctly before proceeding.

5. Hold the bow with your non-dominant hand in a comfortable shooting position.

6. Hand your dominant hand's fingers under the bowstring, positioning them where you typically grip the bow handle.

7. Slowly draw the bowstring back, mimicking your usual form and technique.

8. Once you reach your full draw position, read the weight displayed on the bathroom scale.

9. Repeat the process several times to establish consistency and obtain an average.

While this method may not provide the same precision as the previous ones, it gives a rough estimate of your draw weight, allowing adjustments accordingly.

Potential Draw Weight Adjustments:

Once you have determined your draw weight, there are a few adjustment methods you can consider to fine-tune it based on your preferences and shooting style:

Cam Adjustments:

Many compound bows feature adjustable cams that allow you to modify the draw weight within a particular range. By adjusting the position of the draw length module or changing the settings on the cam, you can increase or decrease the draw weight incrementally. Consult your bow's manufacturer guidelines for specific instructions on cam adjustments.

Changing Limbs:

On some compound bows, it is possible to replace the limbs to adjust the draw weight. Depending on the make and model, limbs with different draw weights may be available for purchase separately. This option requires expertise or professional assistance to ensure safe and accurate limb replacement.

Adding or Removing Weight:

Another way to modify the draw weight is by adding or removing weight from the bow itself. This can involve attaching or removing stabilizers, sight extensions, or other accessories that contribute to the overall weight of the bow. However, it is essential to maintain a balance between comfort, stability, and the desired draw weight.


Testing draw weight on a compound bow is a crucial step towards enhancing your archery experience. By understanding the factors influencing draw weight, choosing an appropriate testing method, and making necessary adjustments, you can achieve optimal performance and accuracy. Remember, finding your ideal draw weight is a process of experimentation and personal preference. Whether you are a seasoned archer or just starting, dedicating time to test and fine-tune your draw weight will undoubtedly improve your shooting proficiency. So, grab your bow, follow the methods outlined above, and embark on a journey towards a more enjoyable and rewarding archery experience.


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