Have you heard terms like draw length, draw weight and feet per second, but have no idea what they mean? These are common archery terms you should know when talking to other archers.
Articles, videos and tips from your archery instructor make more sense when you know archery lingo and the context of the sport’s terms. That knowledge also helps you seek advice from fellow archers because you’ll know how to talk their language.
The terms aren’t complicated. In fact, you’ll feel confident using them in conversation by the end of this article.
Draw length is measured in inches, and it’s a measurement of how far you pull back the bow. Your draw length is archery’s version of your clothing size. Just as clothes get tailored to fit you, the bow you choose must fit your draw length.
For compound-bow archers, a bow technician approximates your draw length based on your wingspan. The bow-tech then fine-tunes your bow until it fits. When you have a proper draw length, you shoot better and feel more comfortable at full draw.
Unlike a compound, recurves and longbows don’t have set draw lengths. However, the bow-tech must still find your draw length because the bow’s length must match your draw length. If you have a long draw length, you’ll need a longer bow to better accommodate your draw length and feel comfortable.
Draw weight is the amount of force needed to pull a bow, and it’s measured in pounds.
Recurves and longbows have incrementally heavier draw weights the farther they’re pulled. The standard for determining their draw weight is taken at 28 inches of draw length. The draw weight is marked on the bow’s lower limb with the pound sign (#),such as 35# @ 28”. That translates to 35 pounds of draw weight at a 28-inch draw length.
Here’s an example to help understand how draw weight varies with draw length. If you have a 40-pound recurve bow, its draw weight is 40 pounds when the bow is pulled to 28 inches. But if you checked its draw weight at 26 inches, you’d find it’s a few pounds less. And if you checked the draw weight at 29 inches, you’d find it’s slightly more than 40 pounds. The best way to learn your draw weight with certainty is to have an archery shop check it at your preferred draw length.
Compound bows, however, have set draw weights. A compound with a 50-pound draw weight at 28 inches will remain at 50 pounds if it’s adjusted to a 26-inch draw length. Compound bows can be adjusted to different draw weights by a bow technician. Compound bows typically have about a 10-pound adjustment range, but some adjust over a huge range in draw weight and draw length.
An arrow’s length is measured from the nock’s deepest part to where the point and arrow shaft meet. You must know this measurement with certainty when buying arrows. The measurement allows archery stores to cut them to the right length.
Feet Per Second
Arrow speeds are measured in feet per second, or FPS. To measure arrow speed, archery stores and manufacturers shoot arrows through a chronograph. When browsing bow catalogs, you will see bow speeds written in FPS. A bow’s speed is affected by the draw weight, draw length, arrow weight, string materials and string accessories, such as peeps and silencers.
Have you got all that? If so, you’re ready to discuss most weights and measurements related to archery. When someone asks your bow’s draw weight or arrow speed, fill your answer with some archery jargon. They’ll think you’re a pro.