When to Increase Draw Weight On A Recurve Bow?

by | Aug 6, 2022

Moving up in draw weight might seem like the natural thing to do after you’ve been shooting consistently with the same weight for a few months. I mean, in the gym, you would increase the weight you’re lifting once you stopped seeing results, right? But knowing when to Increase the draw weight on a recurve bow is not as cut and dried as simply slapping on a couple of extra weight plates in the gym.

There are some indicators you can use to let you know when it’s time to move up in draw weight:

  • You can hold your bow string at the fully drawn position for more than 30 seconds without any shaking.
  • You can shoot your current draw weight for 30mins without any muscle fatigue.
  • You consistently fail to hit targets at greater distances
  • If you bow hunt with a lower poundage bow then you will need to increase that draw weight in order to hunt larger animals in a more humane way

Going up in weight can also be an ego trip. You might think it makes you look stronger, but in archery, accuracy counts, not power. It’s better to start with a lower poundage bow like a 20lb recurve which will allow you to build perfect form first before moving up in weight.

When to Increase Draw Weight on a Recurve Bow?

Identifying the right time to increase the draw weight of your recurve bow is crucial for your progression in archery. Several signs suggest you might be ready to take this step:

1. Comfort

First and foremost, consider your physical comfort with the current draw weight. If you can draw the bow and hold the string at full draw for over 30 seconds without shaking, it’s a good indication that your muscles have adapted well to the current weight

2. Endurance and Stamina

Another key factor is endurance. Are you able to shoot a considerable number of arrows – let’s say over 50 – without getting tired?

This stamina suggests that your muscles are ready for a heavier draw weight. It’s also important to assess your accuracy and consistency.

3. Consistency

If you find that your arrows are consistently hitting the target at your usual shooting distance, and you’re maintaining good groupings, it might be time to increase the draw weight.

This is especially true if you’re finding it challenging to reach farther distances with the desired accuracy.

For bow hunters, the draw weight for hunting is particularly significant. If you aim to hunt large animals, a higher draw weight, typically around 40 pounds or more, is often necessary.

This requirement not only ensures humane hunting practices but also increases the likelihood of a successful hunt at distances beyond 15 yards.

Don’t Overestimate Your Ability

While increasing the draw weight can be beneficial, overestimating your ability and moving up too quickly can lead to adverse effects.

A draw weight that’s too high for your current strength level can not only hamper your shooting accuracy but also put you at risk of injury.

It’s crucial to avoid the macho allure of heavy bows and instead focus on your technique and consistent performance with a lower draw weight before advancing.

Starting with a draw weight that’s too high can lead to bad habits. You might find yourself struggling to draw the bow, leading to a shaky aim and inconsistent shots.

This struggle can also cause you to tire quickly, reducing the number of arrows you can shoot in a session. In archery, it’s not just about how much strength you can muster; it’s about how effectively you can use that strength over an extended period.

Beginners, especially, should be cautious. Starting off with a draw weight that’s too high (over 25 lbs for beginners) can quickly lead to frustration and a negative learning experience.

It’s better to start with a weight that challenges you without overwhelming your muscles. Remember, in archery, the goal is to train your muscles gradually while maintaining a focus on your technique.

How To Increase Draw Weight On A Recurve Bow

Increasing the draw weight of your recurve bow is a journey that requires careful consideration and practice. Here are some effective methods to safely and efficiently increase your draw weight:

  1. Changing Limbs:
    • The most direct method to increase draw weight is to replace your bow’s limbs with a new set of limbs that offer higher draw weight.
    • This is particularly convenient with takedown bows, where you can easily swap the limbs.
    • Ensure that the new limbs are compatible with your riser and within your strength range.
  2. Strength Training:
    • Engaging in specific exercises can help you gain the necessary strength for a heavier draw weight.
    • Focus on exercises targeting the upper body, back, and shoulders, such as push-ups and dumbbell rows.
    • Consistency is key; regular strength training will gradually prepare your muscles for a higher draw weight.
  3. Practice with Current Weight:
    • Continuously shooting with your current draw weight helps in building muscle memory and strength.
    • Aim to increase the number of arrows you shoot in each session, focusing on maintaining form and accuracy.
  4. Gradual Increments:
    • When you’re ready to increase, do so in small increments, like 2-5 pounds at a time.
    • This allows your body to adjust to the new weight without overwhelming it.
  5. Professional Guidance:
    • Consider consulting with a seasoned archer or a coach who can offer personalized advice based on your current skill level and physical capabilities.

It’s essential to recognize that increasing the draw weight is not just a physical challenge but also a mental one. Being patient and progressively building up your strength will yield better long-term results in your archery skills.

How Much Draw Weight Should I Increase By?

Deciding how much to increase your draw weight is as crucial as the decision to increase it. Here’s a simple table to guide you:

Current Draw WeightRecommended Increment
20 – 30 lbs2 – 3 lbs
30 – 40 lbs2 – 4 lbs
40 – 50 lbs3 – 5 lbs
  • Start with smaller increments if you’re a beginner or returning to archery after a break.
  • For experienced archers, slightly larger increments may be manageable.
  • Always prioritize control and form over the desire to rapidly increase weight.

Remember, the goal is to enhance your archery skills without compromising on technique or risking injury. Listen to your body and adjust the draw weight accordingly.

Whether you’re an aspiring bow hunter or a competitive archer, finding the ideal draw weight is a journey that demands patience, practice, and persistence.

Why Do You Need A Higher Draw Weight?

Understanding the purpose behind increasing the draw weight of your recurve bow is crucial. Here are some primary reasons why archers opt for a higher draw weight:

  1. Hunting Efficiency:
    • For bow hunting, a higher draw weight is often required to ensure humane and effective hunting.
    • Legal requirements in many regions specify a minimum draw weight (often around 40 pounds) for hunting certain game.
  2. Improved Range and Power:
    • A heavier draw weight allows the arrow to travel farther and with more force, essential for longer distance shooting.
    • This can be particularly beneficial in competitive archery, where distance and accuracy are paramount.
  3. Personal Growth in Archery:
    • Increasing draw weight is a natural progression as you develop strength and skill in archery.
    • It reflects your growth as an archer, allowing you to challenge yourself with new goals.

However, it’s vital to balance ambition with reality. Increasing draw weight should be a decision made based on your physical capability, archery discipline (target archery, field archery, bow hunting, etc.), and personal goals.

Related: What Is The Highest Draw Weight For A Recurve Bow?

Olympic Recurve Archer

When You Shouldn’t Increase Draw Weight

There are certain scenarios when it’s advisable not to increase the draw weight of your recurve bow:

  1. Lack of Control:
    • If you struggle to maintain a steady aim or find your form suffering with a higher draw weight, it’s a sign not to increase further.
    • Losing control over the bow can lead to bad shooting habits and potential injuries.
  2. Physical Discomfort:
    • Experiencing significant fatigue, pain, or shaking after shooting a few arrows indicates that the current draw weight might already be too high.
    • Listen to your body’s signals and avoid pushing beyond your comfortable physical limits.
  3. Inconsistent Performance:
    • If increasing draw weight results in erratic arrow groupings or a notable decrease in accuracy, it might be premature to move up in weight.
    • Focus on refining your technique and building strength at your current weight before considering an increase.

Remember, archery is a sport of precision and patience. It’s more beneficial to shoot consistently and accurately at a lower draw weight than to struggle with a higher one. Mastery of technique should always precede an increase in draw weight.

Essential Strength Exercises for Archers

Building the right muscle strength is key to comfortably handling a higher draw weight. Here are some exercises that can help you prepare:

  1. Dumbbell Rows:
    • Target the muscles used to draw the bow, like the latissimus dorsi and rhomboids.
    • Perform in a bent-over position, pulling the weight up towards your torso.
  2. Push-Ups:
    • Strengthen the chest and shoulders, essential for maintaining stability when drawing the bow.
    • Variations like wide-grip push-ups can further target the relevant muscle groups.
  3. Forearm Planks:
    • Improve core strength, which is vital for balance and control in archery.
    • Hold the plank position for 30 seconds to 1 minute, ensuring your back is straight and core is engaged.
  4. Shoulder Exercises:
    • Exercises like the dumbbell side raise strengthen shoulder muscles for better control and stability.
    • Focus on slow, controlled movements to avoid injury.

Incorporate these exercises into your regular training routine, aiming for at least 2-3 sessions per week. As you gain strength, you’ll find it easier to handle a heavier draw weight without compromising your form or accuracy.

Even if you have a budget in mind, make sure you’re being cautious about how much weight you add to your bow. Adding too much too quickly can have seriously negative effects on your progress.

The fact that you can no longer control the bow will significantly affect how well you can shoot. Any more than a 5lb increase would be a risk if you want to maintain that steady progress and consistently hit those targets.

Recurve Bow Draw Weight Chart According to Archer’s Type

Selecting the right draw weight also involves considering your body type and strength. Here’s a helpful chart to guide archers in choosing a starting draw weight:

Archer TypeBody Weight RangeSuggested Draw Weight
Small Kids70-100 pounds10-15 pounds
Large Kids100-130 pounds15-25 pounds
Small-Frame Women100-130 pounds25-35 pounds
Medium-Frame Women130-160 pounds25-35 pounds
Small-Frame Men120-150 pounds30-45 pounds
Medium-Frame Men150-180 pounds40-55 pounds
Large-Frame Women160+ pounds30-45 pounds
Large-Frame Men180+ pounds45-60 pounds
  • These are general recommendations and should be tailored to individual capabilities and experience.
  • Beginners should start at the lower end of the suggested weight range and gradually increase as they build strength and skill.
  • Consult with a professional or experienced archer for personalized advice based on your specific needs.


What’s the Best Draw Weight for a Recurve Bow?

The ideal draw weight depends on your physical strength, purpose (hunting, target shooting), and experience. Beginners might start with 20-25 lbs, while experienced archers could handle 40-50 lbs or more.

How Hard is it to Pull a 60 lb Bow?

Pulling a 60 lb bow requires significant strength and is generally suitable for more experienced and physically robust archers. Gradual training is recommended to reach this level without risk of injury.

Is a 70 lb Draw Too Much?

For most archers, a 70 lb draw is quite high and can be challenging to manage. It’s important to work up to such a weight gradually and ensure it aligns with your physical capabilities and archery goals.

Will a Higher Draw Weight Make My Arrow Go Faster?

Yes, a higher draw weight will generally result in faster arrow speeds. However, it’s important to balance speed with control and accuracy.


In conclusion, managing and understanding the draw weight of your recurve bow is a fundamental aspect of archery.

Whether you’re a beginner taking your first shot or an experienced archer aiming to fine-tune your skills, the right draw weight is essential for accuracy, control, and overall enjoyment of the sport. 

Remember, increasing the draw weight is a journey that should align with your physical abilities, archery goals, and ethical considerations, especially in hunting scenarios.

As you progress, listen to your body, focus on building strength and technique, and don’t hesitate to seek advice from seasoned archers.

With patience and practice, finding that perfect draw weight balance will significantly enhance your archery experience, making every arrow shot a step closer to achieving your archery aspirations.