I receive a lot of e-mails from beginners asking how to pick the right draw weight when they have never shot a compound bow before. While there’s no hard formula that would answer this question (as everything depends on your physical capabilities), there’s a way to give you a very close and solid estimate.

That’s what the compound bow draw weight chart below is for. Simply locate your body type in the left-hand column and you’ll see what draw weight we’d recommend for you as a beginner.

Body Type
Suggested Draw Weight
Small child (40 to 70 lbs.)10-15 lbs.
Child (70 to 100 lbs.)15-20 lbs.
Women and large-framed boys (100 to 140 lbs.)30-40 lbs.
Women with a larger frame & youth boys (140 to 160 lbs.)40-50 lbs.
The majority of males (160 to 190 lbs.)55-65 lbs.
Larger males (190+ lbs.)60-70 lbs.

Please keep the following in mind:

  • The values above apply to compound bows only and should not be used to determine appropriate draw weight for recurve or long bows.
  • If uncertain, better to stay closer to the lower end of the draw weight range for your body type.

As your strength and proper drawing form improve, you’ll notice a significant increase in the amount of weight you can pull. So you might start with 40 lbs. and then, a few months later, find that pulling 60 lbs. is quite possible.

How Much Draw Weight Do I Need To Hunt?

Draw weight is not the sole factor you need to consider when deciding if a certain compound bow will be suitable for hunting. What you need to consider is the kinetic energy (KE) of your arrows, and this will depend on a few variables:

  • Draw weight
  • Draw length
  • Brace height
  • Arrow weight

In other words, it’s quite possible to have a bow with 70 lbs. draw weight that delivers less “punch” (kinetic energy) than a 60 lbs. bow or even a 50 lbs. bow. So how do you figure out the KE of your bow? There are two ways to do it on our site:

  1. Read our compound bow reviews, where we list the kinetic energy of the bow assuming a few different settings.
  2. Read our beginners’ guide to calculating kinetic energy to better understand where hunting potential comes from and how you can carry out all calculations yourself in less than a minute.

Don’t Overreach

Overreaching is when you buy a compound bow with say 70 lbs. of draw weight even though you’ve never shot a bow before and are of average physical shape. Male archers are especially prone to overreaching and will often believe they are capable of handling whatever weight is thrown at them. Here is how these scenarios usually go:

  1. John weighs 165 lbs. Our chart tells him he should probably go for 55 lbs. draw weight, but he decides to get 70 lbs. because he’s sure he can handle it.
  2. John gets his bow, and struggles with it out the door. He has a very hard time learning proper technique because all of his focus is going into successfully pulling the string. Shooting his bow becomes more of a chore than a pleasure, and he can’t seem to improve his skill level nor aim properly due to the fatigue he is experiencing.
  3. John quits and, a few weeks later, stashes his bow under the bed or sells it on ebay.com.

Make sure this scenario doesn’t happen to you. You can still do a ton of damage with a 50 lbs. bow and easily take down deer and maybe even elk if your draw length and the weight of arrows used are right for the job.

CB Draw Weight Chart – Summary

Hopefully the above has been of use to you. Consult the chart above, stay on the conservative side, and you’ll have more fun with your compound than you could wish for. And if in doubt – leave a comment below and I’ll get back to you promptly. Have a nice day!

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