I will make this real simple for you, as there is no need to over-complicate things when it comes to choosing your recurve bow draw weight. With all these numbers and poundage values floating around on the subject, I know it can get very confusing. Let me try to lift all of this confusion quickly.
To find out what different draw weights are capable off, please read this guide on Draw Weight Capabilities.
Below is a chart that will help you determine your starting draw weight limit, based on your own body weight and gender. All you have to do is choose the description in the left-hand column which best describes you, and to the right of that you will have a safe draw weight range that you can pick from. Please remember that if you have never shot a bow before, you should always aim for the lower draw weight range in the chart below. There is one thing I’d like you to keep in mind:
As you gain more experience shooting recurve bows, you will obviously gain strength and will be able to handle more draw weight, at which point you can forget about everything you see in the chart below and just go with what you think you can handle – it won’t be hard for you to tell once you’ve shot a few hundred arrows. So the chart below is mostly suitable for beginners who have never shot a real recurve before, or who have very limited experience with this form of archery.
|Archer's Weight||Suggested Draw Weight|
|Small Children (70-100 lbs.)||10-15 lbs|
|Larger Children (100-130 lbs.)||15-25 lbs|
|Small-Frame Female (100-130 lbs.)||25-35 lbs|
|Medium-Frame Female (130-160 lbs)||25-35 lbs|
|Small-Frame Male (120-150 lbs)||30-45 lbs|
|Medium-Frame Male (150-180 lbs)||40-55 lbs|
|Large-Frame Females (160+ lbs)||30-45 lbs|
|Large Frame Men (180+ lbs)||45-60 lbs|
Now that you know what draw weight you should go for, check out one of the following lists:
- Best recurve bows (top 10 chart) – divided by price range.
- Beginner recurve bows list.
- Best Recurve bows for hunting list.
- Cheap Recurve Bows list
How To Increase Your Draw Weight
Draw Weight For Hunting
If you plan on hunting game, keep in mind that you will need a recurve bow with a draw weight of 40 pounds minimum. Anything less than that will result in a lot of missed opportunities during a hunt, particularly so when you need to shoot an arrow from a distance of more than 15 yards (which will often be the case). So if you plan on hunting, but the chart above suggest that you are unable to handle 40 pounds or more of draw weight, you should first purchase a bow that you are able to handle, then gain some experience by target practicing and improving your strength (particularly that of your back’s lateral muscles). Once you feel that you are capable of easily handling that draw weight, you may upgrade your bow to one that is a 40+ pounder and then go on your first all-natural bow hunting trip.
Once you’ve determined what your ideal drawing weight is, you should check out my best recurve bow comparison chart, where I’ve listed 10 of the best bows on the market, including full specs, reviews, and everything else you need to make a decision. No matter what your current draw weight potential is, you’ll find a recurve on my list that will be suitable for you.
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Shared the link on facebook but couldn’t watch the video… it took several tries to share the link as well. Is it broken or am I? I’d love to see the video.
I e-mailed you the link to the video a long time ago, did you get it?
This chart suggests maximum weights, anything above 40# is basically for hunting only.
I’m 6’2 , 220 lbs and fairly strong, I bought a 55# recurve because it was a bargain.
Turns out I could only get 10 shots in good form.
Rather than buying new limbs i got an identical 30# bow and this i can shoot all day, so now I start by shooting the 30 until my eye is in and all the distances come naturally and then I shoot 12 hunting arrows with the 55 and then I switch back again for the remainder of the day
For a beginner 24# is all you need, the length of the bow and your draw length are more important. Draw length is approx your arm span divided by 2.5
The unstrung recurve should reach your collar bone for a suitable length, a longbow your eye.
great info to help me get my son his first bow!
Where is the video? I share in tweeter
My son tried bow shooting at camp this summer and really enjoyed it and asked me to get him a bow. The only problem is I know nothing about bow and arrows. He is 14 5’4″ and around 115lbs. He would use the bow just for target shooting. Also any recommendations on arrows would be appreciated. Thanks!
Hi Thomas, let me try to help. Can you tell me if your son prefers a takedown or a one-piece recurve bow?
My son and I recently started up with archery again after a 10 year sabbatical. We are enjoying it very much. Your articles have been extremely helpful. However, I have not been able to get the social links to work so that we can view the video. Please help.
I have just sent you a link to the video. Thanks for the kind words about the site, too!
Is there a difference in draw weight requirements for bowfishing?
Hi I am looking at getting a take down bow I have done the odd indoor range shoot and I think it was a #35. If I was to get a lower pound bow can I swap out the limbs to up the pound without buying a new bow?
Our grandson enjoyed archery this summer at scouting daycamp so my husband and I wanted to get a bow for him. He is 8 years old and of slight build and not tall. I believe he weights about 53 pounds. He is very good at soccer, using mainly, of course, his legs for that sport, but from looking at the chart above, I don’t think our grandson could use a recurve bow at this time. Tomorrow I can find out just how tall he is and how much he weighs for sure, but I’m know he isn’t 70 pounds, which is the smallest weight on your chart above. Does this mean he could not use a recurve bow at this time? Our son-in-law found a compound bow (Tiger-10 pound draw)that would be easier for my grandson to draw. My concern is, though, that if he starts using a compound bow, then he’ll want to move on to those bows which have all of the accessories. I’ll probably step on someone’s toes here, but I feel that using a recurved bow is more of a “real” sport than a bow with all of those accessories that practically enable the bow to shoot itself. Also, our grandson is left handed, which may complicate a proper bow selection. Please tell me if there is a recurved bow that is not expensive, that a smaller person could use. Thank you for your help.
Cynthia Vance a Samick Little Fox recurve bow seems like a good start. They are reasonably priced and a pretty bow. Some will argue that it is poorly made/poor performance but I have had mine for several months and I love it. Everyone has their own opinions but I love mine and am looking into another Samick bow.
hello i plan to learn an archery, but my weight is 106 lbs, and i didnt even fit for the small frame man chart, what should i do ?
Don’t think to much about your weight or your size. What is important is backstrength. Are you a sporty guy or have you been sitting on your ass playing video games all your life? 🙂 I’ve seen very small men use 70 pund bows with no problem at all…. The most common opinion though is that it is easier to learn with a lighter bow and get your technique right, and then later progress to heavier bows. So don’t go above 35 pounds with your first bow.
These draw weights seem really heavy.
I just started archery, i’m a fit 30yr old weighing about 170lbs, 6’2″ height.
I was practising with a 34lb 70″ recurve last time (the third time i’ve been at the range) and frankly it was a bit much for me to feel comfortable.
After an hour my fingers were very sore, and i was having trouble holding the full draw.
I’m looking at buying a bow soon and can’t imagine going above 30 at this point, but i’m leaning towards 26.
Get a recurve takedown bow. I have a SouthWest Archery Spyder $149.00 and a great bow, and bought 20 pound limbs for it. Then I went up to 25 pound limbs, now I’m at 30 pound limbs. If you go up gradually you will build up strength. You could start at 25 and go up from there. It took me about 5-6 months between limbs. You will know when you are ready, because you will be able to pull to your ear.
Im 14 but im 6 foot tall, 143lb (65kg) and im trying to get into archery so would i go with a small frame male or would i stick to the larger children range?
I’m 14 and 5’11”, 150 pounds and I use a 55 pound draw weight, but I work out a good bit, more than an average male at my age. I dont know if this helps you or not but I saw this and stuck to Medium Frame and it works for me
Hi I hope you can help. Several years ago we were given a York recurve bow, rh, 50 @ 28. I know nothing of its value and can’t seem to find much on the internet. Can you help us?
Hello, i am getting back into bow target and hunting, i have plate and pins and screws in my right hand so i can only use my thumb and 2 fingers, i was thinking of a break down 30# then as my hand gets stronger i can buy limbs to 40.. what do you think? ps i am a girl
i am a 5″11 and 170lbs male with some experience in archery. do you think i can draw a 45lb recurve?
I’m a 5’11 165lbs man, and can draw a 45lb recurve. However I cannot hold that poundage at my anchor point without struggling. It all really depends on your level of fitness. A gentleman paid forward a self bow that has been passed around to those in need several times free of charge. The specs of the bow are 62′ in length 43lbs at the standard 28′ draw, and I have a 29′ draw. This is why I’m considering a low poundage recurve. I’ve read that beginners should start out at 30-35lbs to learn proper form, because if you don’t it’ll be very hard to kick bad habits. Most people I talk to use their lower poundage limbs during off season for form practice, and then when it’s time to go hunting they slap on their higher poundage limbs.
I’m an 18 yo male about 6ft,and about 260lbs. Any suggestions for bow lbs? Thank you.
I’m 14 and around 160 pounds I’ve tried archery a couple of times and find that I really enjoy but I don’t know what draw weight I would be because I work out quite a lot . Is there a way to measure your draw weight by how heavy weights you can lift if that is possible . I can lift 40 kg weights using one arm . Thanks for any help
Go with low draw weight if you are a beginner, the heavier the bow, the shorter your sessions will be and it will take longer to develop a good technique. You want to get as many shots per sessions as possible and you don’t want to skip a session because of sour fingers (which is the biggest problem with heavy bows for beginners). So I wouldn’t go above 30 lbs as a beginner, even if your a strong lad. somewhere between 25-30 will probably do fine.
I think it’s a very bad idea to use personal weight as a guide for what bow to use…. Back strength is everything when doing archery. So, if you are person hos been sitting on your ass all your life, go with a very light bow. Are you a construction worker or a sporty person who exercise regularly, you can go with a heavier bow.
However, the biggest problem with heavy bows is usually protecting your fingers. Regardless of what anyone tells you, start out with the thickest protection you can get your hands on, you ger sour anyway, in time you will develop callus and then you can ease off with the protection ang go for thinner gloves or pads. Don’t listen to macho idiot who tells you they only use the thinnest gloves to get a better feel. Protect your fingers, you can develop serious permanent nerve damage if you don’t!
I don’t fit into any of these categories I’m a very larg child
Im 6’3, 285 lbs, with a 76 inch arm length end to end. What specs would be a good fit and what brand would be preferable?
Johnny, you should get a 45 lb re-curve bow to start with and try 10 more lbs. next time if your feeling it’s to easy for your strength. But over all you should be able to pull off 70 lbs.
I am a 70 year old female, 5’8″ and 185 lbs in decent health. What would you recommend for me?
These draw weights are really very heavy for begginners.
I’d knock off a 3rd of what’s suggested here at least.
Im an athletic 200lbs man, 6ft3 with a 31″ draw. I use a 45# bow and that’s not easy to hold at anchor for longer than 5-10 seconds or so and I’ve been practicing archery for a year now.
A 60lbs bow as a begginner would be like trying to bend steel!
Hello to whoever made this suggested draw weight chart, how can I cite this?
Man please answer. I am 13 yr old,and i was just shooting 50# pound bow.. 50# at 26″… is normal that i can pull that much??? With no harms..only a small shoulder muscle pain,but nothing serious.
Drawing a LH bow with your RH.
This is how historic warriors of old fought as it allowed a more natural method for quicker shots during combat. Samauri warriors were just as skilled with a bow as they were with the sword. It’s very rare but there are some archers who are proficient with this technique. It may also be that this approach reduced the risk of injury to the bracing arm. RH archers used the equivalent of a LH bow historically. Tests have shown that a proficient combat archer could accurately hit the target(s) multiple times in a single second.
Somewhere along the historic line archers have switched. I guess nowadays there isn’t much need for speed as most archers use time consuming targetting aids for practice shooting. I wouldn’t be surprised if health and safety had its hand in RH bows for RH archers to reduce the chance of spectator damage.
Returning to archery after nearly 30 years.
This chart should also be adjusted for age and possibly amount of use. Just retired from military and decided to start archery. Bought a 30 pound recurve and was having fun. This chart said I could handle a 55 pound bow with pounds to spare. Bought a nice 55 pound recurve bow. Took the 55 pound bow shooting and had a good time. The next day I couldn’t move my right arm. A week later started getting bad cramps in my right shoulder, pec, and side of neck. Went to doctor and he believes it should only be severe tendonitis. Start with a weaker bow and gradually work your way up if you are in your 40s.
Hello, I am looking into getting my first bow. I’m a very small female 24 years old, 5’1″ and 93 lbs. I go rock climbing, outdoor climbing and horseback riding a lot; will I be able to handle a 25 lbs or 30 lbs draw weight?
Yes amber, the draw weight for a smaller frame it not always the problem. I would believe that you would b able to handle 25-30 or maybe even slightly more as long as you use the correct shooting techniques such as stance and drawing. My first bow was around 54” long and at full draw around 30lbs and I remember being a 14 year old weighing 45 kilograms.
Good luck shooting.
My son wants to get a bow for himself. He fits into the small frame male category, so it’s good to know you recommend a 30-45 lb draw height. I’ll keep this in mind so that he gets a bow that fits him perfectly.
These begining draw weights are rediculously high. I have been shooting for years and would never start anyone on 45 to 50 pounds around 30 pounds is usually perfect, at 50 pounds most full size men would have extreme difficulty coming to full draw and maybe hurt themselves
Hello, my daughter is starting and loving horse riding archery. I need to get her a bow. she is 14 years old rather medium frame. Do you have any advise for the draw i should pick for her? 35 lb? or is it better to start with 30?
I have a 32″ draw length. Is it a good idea for me to get a Sage Takedown? It seems like I’m getting mixed messages online. Can I simply add longer limbs if the packaged limbs are too short? How does this work? I see only a few bows with a long draw.
I’m 6’3 and weigh about 220-230 what would be a good how for me to get. It will be my first time buying a bow
Thank you so much for posting this. I think this really puts things into a different light. I mean, I have read about this stuff before but the way you write just makes it clearer, if that makes sense
I am looking for a recurve bow with a 70 to 75 lb draw, do you have any idea where I can find one.
The draw weight recommendations are too high for beginners. They’re ok to work up to, but I’ve seen too many people hurt themselves on bows that are too heavy. For adults: 20-25# recurve or 20-30# compound. For children: 10-20#
I am a 5’7 male and 145 lbs
I ordered a 45 lbs takedown recurve bow
I am in good shape and have some experience with Archery before when I was 14. I am 28 now.
Did it for about 4-5 months
Should I have choosen a 40 lbs instead?