I see a lot of posts in archery which contains topics about the "draw weight" or "poundage". I assume that it doesn't have to do anything with the actual weight of the bow.

So, what does it mean (in depth)?

This is especially interesting if you consider that there are minimum limits for hunting.

1 Answer 1


Short answer

The draw weight of a bow is the pull weight which applies to your fingers on the string while the bow is fully stretched. This weight changes with the length you stretch the bow. So, to compare different bows, the bowyers often refer to 28 inches. This indication often looks like this 50#@28". This basically means that you have to hold 55 pounds (#) if you pull the string 28 inches (") back.

TL;DR answer

I've already talked about the draw weight a little bit in this question.

Draw weight:

The force required to hold the string stationary at full draw is often used to express the power of a bow, and is known as its draw weight, or weight.

It's easy as that, really. It's just the force one needs to apply to pull the bow.

However, you have to hold in mind that this indication doesn't really say something about the bow. It's like someone is saying: "My (not further defined) vehicle has 120 HP." What do you know? Nothing, to be honest. You'll ask the person about the kind of his car and motor. You may also want to know the weight of it and so on.

The same thing applies to bows. First of all the poundage is mostly given for 28" draw length*. This is just a standardization cause every archer has its own draw length depending on his anchor and body size. Refer to it as the 3000 rounds per minute which are used to measure the horse power of a car.

So, let's say an archer is shooting a 35#@28" bow but has a draw length of 26". He is effectively shooting about a little bit over 30 pounds. Just like a 100 HP car driven at 2000 rpm has only about 80 HP or something.

The other thing to hold in mind is that it doesn't have to do anything with the speed of the bow (how fast the arrows fly). This depends on your bowtype (e.g. recurve-bow, longbow, compound-bow), your bow material, your string, your arrows and so on. Just like you don't know anything about the vehicle in the first place. Things just get clearer the more details you get (it's a sports-car, it weights x kg ...).

Draw length:

The maximum distance the string could be displaced and thus the longest arrow that could be loosed from it, a bow’s draw length, is determined by the size of the archer.

  • 3
    TL;DR is normally the short answer, just FYI
    – user2766
    Nov 30, 2015 at 11:42
  • 1
    @Liam, your comment is interesting. I always thought the short answer was basically the most important part, or a summary, of the answer, and the TL:DR (Too Long, Don't Read) was for background, more detailed, or supporting discussion people don't necessarily need in order to understand the main point of the answer. Can you explain to me why the TL:DR would be for the short part, unless it doesn't stand for Too Long, Don't Read, in which case I've been misunderstanding it the whole time! Thanks! Nov 27, 2016 at 19:42
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    @Sue As far as I've ever seen it used TL;DR is the short answer but usually comes at the bottom, after the huge stream of text being the detailed answer :) eg big massive text then 'TL;DR - single sentence'
    – Aravona
    Oct 25, 2017 at 12:24
  • If it helps, imagine the bow held in one hand string down with a weight on a coathanger dangling from that string. When that weight is the draw weight the bow will look as if it's ready to fire. (And yes, TL;DR typically means "to summarize that long answer".)
    – Monster
    Nov 6, 2017 at 5:52

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