MPW Buying Bows How To Guide
If you are new to the sport of bow hunting or if you're going to order a bow system as a gift for someone else, the following information may help.
Right Hand or Left Hand Bow?
A right-handed person generally shoots a right-hand bow. A left-handed person generally shoots a left-hand bow. Some people get this one confused - and understandably so - as a right-handed bow is actually held in the left-hand. However, for a small percentage of people - there is one slight detail....eye-dominance. Most right-handed people are right-eye-dominant. Most left-handed people are left-eye dominant. If your eye dominance is different than your hand dominance - sighting your bow may be very awkward. To check for eye-dominance: place your hands out in front of you at arm's length. Make a small triangle with your two thumbs and index fingers. Then, looking though the triangle (with both eyes open), focus on an object across the room. Now close your left-eye only. If the object you were focusing on is still inside the triangle - you are right-eye dominant. If the object is no longer visible through the triangle (the image "shifts" to the side) - you are left-eye dominant. If your hand and eye dominance are not the same - you might want to consider shooting a bow that matches your eye-dominance rather than your hand-dominance.
What Weight Range for your Bow's Limbs?
Most compound bows are designed to use a variation of limbs - capable of being adjusted within different weight ranges. When you order your bow, you'll be asked to choose which limbs you would like on your bow. Generally a bow's limbs come in 10 lb. increments. Some bows have more choices than others, but for a typical bow - you'll be asked to choose between 40-50#, 50-60#, or 60-70# limbs when ordering your bow.
If you choose 50-60# limbs for example: the bow can be adjusted for any draw weight within that 10# range. However, it cannot be adjusted to say.... 65#.... or any other value outside of the 10# range. If you decide later that you want a draw weight that's higher or lower than the range you originally chose - your bow will need to have new limbs installed.
Tip: A bow is slightly more efficient when operating at or near is peak draw weight. [Adults] For this reason, if you intend to permanently set and shoot your new bow at 60#, you probably should not choose 60-70# limbs (and set the bow for its minimum weight). Instead, choose the 50-60# limbs (and set the bow for its peak weight). If you choose the more popular 60-70# limb, your bow will perform with best efficiency when operating in the 67-70# range. Admittedly, the difference in performance is minor - but worth considering nonetheless. [Youth] If you are purchasing a new compound bow for a growing youth-archer, you should probably not worry about bow efficiency - and choose limbs that leave some room to grow - as kids build strength very quickly when they begin to shoot their bows regularly.
What Draw Weight for Your Setup?
Some states require a compound bow to meet certain draw weight minimums in order to hunt large game like Whitetail Deer. Always observe the rules and regulations for legally harvesting game in your state. However, as a general rule - a 40-50# draw weight will provide sufficient energy to harvest deer and a 50-60# bow will provide sufficient energy to harvest larger elk-size species. Bear, wild hogs, and other "thick-skinned" animals will require a little more kinetic energy. An adult male with average physical strength will be most comfortable with a 55-65# draw weight. An adult female with average strength will be most comfortable with a 30-40# draw weight. If you are unsure about what draw weight is most appropriate for you, we recommend you choose a more moderate weight. Most big-game hunters can be just as effective (and more accurate) with a little more reasonable draw weight.
What Draw Length for Your Setup?
Unlike a traditional recurve bow that can be drawn back to virtually any length, a compound bow will draw back only a specific distance before it stops (the wall). Compound bows are designed to be shot from the full-draw position. If a compound bow is set for a 29" draw length, it should always be shot from the full 29" draw position. But the bow cannot be over-drawn, say to 30" or 31", without modifying the setup on the bow. So the draw length on your compound bow must be set to match your particular size. When we setup your bow, we will adjust the bow for your precise draw length.
To measure your draw length, determine the length of your arm-span in inches. Stand with your arms out and palms facing forward. Don't stretch when measuring. Just stand naturally. Have someone else help you, and measure from the tip of one middle finger to the other. Then simply divide that number by 2.5. The quotient is your proper draw length (in inches) for your body size.
The majority of compound bow owners set their bows for too much draw length, which results in poor shooting form - inaccuracy - and painful string slap on the forearm. You will better enjoy - and be more successful with your new bow when it is fitted properly to your body. And REMEMBER! If in doubt, choose a little LESS draw length rather than a little more. If you are still unsure, or plan to shoot with a string loop, give us a call and we'll help you out.
If you are a person of average proportions, your arm-span will be roughly equal to your height (in inches). So there is often a direct correlation between a person's height and their draw length as well. Once you have computed your draw length using the method above, you can double-check yourself by using the scale below - to see if your number is within the expected range.
Additional Discussion on Draw Length Issues
The "Perfect" Draw Length
Your own "perfect draw length" is the draw length setting at which you are the most comfortable and the most accurate. There is no right and wrong, no absolutes. But it is unlikely that a 5'10" guy will be successful with a 30" draw length, and similarly unlikely that a 6'3" guy will shoot well with a 28" draw length.......not impossible - just unlikely. For some, a "perfect draw length" may be ultimately determined by feel (and some trial and error) rather than by calculation. However, we still recommend a common-sense approach here. If you're new to the sport, you'll have better luck if you just play the averages and choose an initial draw length that's similar to others of your same size and stature (reference the chart from the previous page). Fortunately, on most bows, making a minor draw length change is pretty simple. So it's not quite a life or death decision to start. However, as you become more immersed in the sport and begin to "fine-tune" your game, you may wish to experiment a little with your draw length.
Why Draw Length Matters
More Draw Length = More Power
The longer your draw length, the longer your bow's powerstroke will be - and the faster your bow will shoot. As a general rule, 1" of draw length is worth about 10 fps of arrow velocity. Bows are predominantly IBO Speed rated at 30" draw length. So if your particular bow has an IBO speed of 300 fps, and you intend to shoot the bow at 27" draw length - you should expect an approximate 30 fps loss in speed. This is one of the reasons that so many archers choose inappropriately long draw lengths. So with regards to generating hot arrow speeds, tall shooters do have an advantage. However, shorter guys might feel better to know that short-draw archers do have a few advantages over taller shooters in other areas.