How To Choose The Size of a Recurve Bow (Pro Guide)

a rack full of bows from which to choose from

Archery should be a thrill. But you can easily lose out on the fun if you shoot an incorrectly sized bow.

Sadly, many novices fail to do their homework when buying their first bow and end up with either oversized / under-sized bows.

This article will discuss how to choose the size of a recurve bow.

As you will learn, determine your optimal bow size is really straightforward.

Let’s go…

How to choose the size of a recurve bow: How it works

The following two key parameters come into mind when finding out your best bow size…

  1. Draw length
  2. Bow length

Let me explain.

The Draw length

Draw length forms the foundation of the rest of the calculations.

It’s simply the distance starting at the nock point all the way to the throat of the bow’s grip (according to the ATA – Archery Trade Association).

You can also view it as the distance you can draw a bow correctly (simplified definition).

In ordinary circumstances, draw length is equal to the arrow length you need as a recurve bow archer.  

That doesn’t however mean that the correct way of determining your draw length is by drawing and marking an arrow.

That’s because many shooters traditionally draw farther than required at the start before “settling in” and easing the draw.

This result in a significant difference in the final value and it will undoubtedly haunt your performances later on.

Even a change as minimal as 1/4″ can create a massive difference in your shooting form.  

So, what’s the most appropriate way of estimating your draw length?

Well, follow this technique:

Requirements

  • Tape measure/ alternative measuring tool.
  • Scratch paper
  • Pencil

Steps

a. Take your arm span measurement

To do this, stand as natural as possible (your back preferably against a wall) and stretch both your arms out both sides at shoulder height.

Ask a friend/shooting partner to spread the tape from where the middle finger ends on your left hand to the tip of the opposite middle finger.

Record this value on your scratch paper.

b. The calculations

Insert the value in your phone’s calculator and divide it by 2.5. The answer effectively becomes your draw length.

It’s that simple!

For instance, if you obtained an arm span value of 56 inches, your draw length would be 22.4 inches (56/2.5).

Now, the above is one of the easiest techniques of measuring your draw length.

But it’s not the only one. For example, you can walk to a nearby shop and request the assistant to measure you.

Archery apps. such as Perbojay Pocket Archery software can also be helpful on the calculations part.

I had mentioned that the draw length forms the basis for the remaining measurements and we have calculated it.

Can we therefore move on?

Determining your perfect Bow length

In our second part, we will look at how to obtain your perfect bow length.

Perhaps we can start by explaining the measurement…

Now, the bow length is usually measured from the bow’s tip to the other tip following the natural curve of its limbs and along the rear of the riser.

The bow should be unstrung when capturing the measurement.

How influential is the bow length?

Well, using a recurve bow whose length matches your arrow/draw length is super important.

That’s because such a bow generates peak amount of energy.

Consequently, it propels your arrows efficiently.

It also won’t stress the bow’s limbs- a common occurrence when shooting a bow which is either too long/short.

Lastly, the bow will be amazingly comfortable in your hands.

Can you now clearly see why I insist that you must get these measurements right?

How to determine your most suitable bow length

Turning to how you can tell what bow length will fit you, all you need to do is simply match your previously computed draw length to the bow length charts.

Available setups range from 48 inches and can exceed 70 inches (not often, however).

On the whole, longer bows tend to draw smoother besides shooting slightly more accurately.

On the other hand, shorter bows have proven to be more maneuverable.

Of course, the key factor is your draw length.

Here now is a sample chart draw length/bow length chart for your reference.

Draw lengthRecommended recurve bow length
14-16″48 inches
17-20″54 inches
20-22″58 inches
22-24″62 inches
24-26″64-66 inches
26-28″66-68 inches
28-30″68-70 inches
31” and above70-72 inches

If you’re buying a recurve bow for your youthful son/daughter, you can use an age-based bow length chart for guidance.

Here is a good example.

AgeRecommended recurve bow
length
6 to 15 years54-64 inches
16-30 years64-70 inches

If you don’t like the chart method, have him/her try out a couple of recurves (at different lengths) to identify the bow length at which he/she is most comfortable.

Okay?

You have now confirmed that getting your bow size is a forthright process as I had hinted.

I will now answer a few questions that you have been mailing our way regarding recurve bow sizing.

How to choose the size of a recurve bow: FAQ (Frequently asked questions)

Q: How do you size a recurve bow?

A: I have already answered this. Just measure your arm span as explained above then divide it by 2.5 to get your draw length. You then look up your draw length in the manufacturer-provided draw length/bow length chart.

Q: What size recurve bow do I need for hunting?

A: The recurve size suited for hunting depends on a variety of factors including the aforementioned draw length and to an extent your height.

Overall, it should be about 66-68 inches (for a 26-28 inches draw length), 68-70 inches (for a 28-30 inches draw length), and 70-72 inches (for 31+ inches draw length).

Q: What draw weight should I get for a recurve bow?

A:  You should get a draw weight that’s going to be comfortable to draw as per your physical strength. You can use this chart to guidance.

Archer’s profileGenderBody Weight (pounds)Recommended Draw Weight
Small childBoth sexes70 to 10010-15 lbs
Larger childBoth sexes100 to 13015-25 lbs
Smaller body frameFemale100 to 13025-35 lbs
Medium body frameFemale130 to 16025-35 lbs
Smaller body frameMale120 to 15030-45 lbs
Medium body frameMale150 to 18040-55 lbs
Large body frameFemale160 +30-45 lbs
Large frameMen180+45-60 lbs

Here are some more points I would like you to understand even as you interpret the above table.

  • If you’re a beginner adult, you can easily start off at between 15 to 25 lbs. depending on your physical strength and shooting frequency.
  • For your son/daughter, aim for a starting draw weight of between 10-20 pounds.
  • The rule of the thumb is that hunting recurve bows should have draw weights of 40+ pounds.
  • Never over-estimate your draw weight. In fact, it’s better to start with a reduced draw weight and then go up as you grow in strength and shooting skill. 

Recurve bow sizing tips

  • Don’t trust the salesman. Well, I know that some are good and will help you size the recurve before buying but some are just after a quick sale and aren’t helpful.
  • When taking the measurements, be relaxed. You should especially not raise the shoulder neither should you collapse your chest lest you arrive at the wrong readings.
  • Unless under special conditions, it’s not advisable to shoot a recurve that is below 58 inches.

Final thoughts

Getting the recurve bow sizing right is a fundamental step towards enjoying the sport.

Specifically, it saves you from countless issues including:

  • Distorted shots and low accuracy
  • Poor shooting form.
  • Strained back posture
  • Physical pain and nagging discomfort during sessions.

In addition, it saves your money (buying a bow that you’ll not use can be a costly loss) and the resulting ​frustrations.

Just follow the above steps!

If you have a question, drop it in the comments sections and we shall answer you soonest.

Good luck with your shooting.

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