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How to Set the Draw Weight on a Compound Bow

By Daniel Barrows

The draw weight of a bow is the amount of resistance the archer encounters when attempting to draw the string back for a shot, measured in pounds. Pulling the string of a bow with a draw weight of 30 pounds requires muscle strength equal to lifting an object of the same weight. The more draw weight a bow has, the more energy imparted to the arrow when fired. Archers often calibrate a bow to use the highest draw weight that will still allow them to draw the string comfortably.

  1. Inspect the points where each limb connects to the bow, and locate the limb bolts. Examine the area around the limb bolt and look for a locking screw; if there is one, loosen it.

  2. Insert the short end of the Allen wrench into the end of one of the limb bolts. Turn the bolt clockwise until it sticks, then turn the bolt counterclockwise. Repeat with the bolt located on the opposite limb.

  3. Adjust both bolts until you have reached the desired draw weight. Tighten the locking screws, if present.

  4. Nock an arrow onto the bowstring with the index feather facing away from the bow. Position yourself toward your target. Aim the bow at the target.

  5. Hook your fingertips onto the bowstring around the end of the arrow, and test the draw weight by drawing the bow. Carefully return the string to its original position without releasing the arrow. Make further adjustments to the bow's draw weight if necessary.

  6. Tip

    Try to select a draw weight that will require roughly 75 percent of your muscle strength; too much weight will make the bow difficult to use, while too little will reduce the power of your shots.

    Your bow may have a label printed on the side, indicating the factory-set peak draw weight.

    Two bows of identical draw weight may feel different when drawn because of differences in design and construction.

    Unlike traditional bows, compound bows are designed to be fired with the bowstring fully drawn; if you are unable to draw the string completely, you may find it necessary to reduce the draw weight.


    Do not give the limb bolts more than four or five counterclockwise turns, depending on the model of bow.

    Do not turn the bolts too tightly, as this may result in damage to the bow limbs.

    If you plan to use your bow for hunting, check local rules and regulations before setting your draw weight; you may not be permitted to hunt certain types of game unless your bow is set to a certain weight.

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