Recurve bows are a preferred option for new archers, but how do you know: “what size recurve bow do I need?

Throughout this guide, I’ll explain what to consider and how to calculate your appropriate size.

So let’s dive into it…

What Size Recurve Bow Do I Need?

Here are a few things you should consider:

Your Draw Weight:

draw weight

What is the draw weight?

The draw weight is the number of pounds required to pull back the bowstring to the advertised draw length. A # denotes this value.

For instance, 25# means the bow required 25 pounds of draw weight.

How much draw weight do beginners need?

As an adult beginner, you should start with a 20# to 30# recurve bow, regardless of physical fitness.

On the other hand, children should begin with 15 - 20 lbs draw weight.

Note: if you use the recurve bow to hunt game, you should go for one with more penetration to get through the skin and fat layers. Otherwise, you’ll end up unethically.

For hunting purposes, your recurve bow should have a draw weight of at least 40 pounds. A higher draw weight also makes arrows more accurate over long distances.

Your Draw Length:

Depending on how far you can comfortably draw, you should get the right to recurve bow draw length.

So, How can you determine the draw length for a recurve bow?

Well, here are two commonly used methods:

1. Wingspan Measurement:

wingspan method

To determine the most appropriate draw length, you first need to measure your wingspan.

Here’s how:

  • a) Stretch your arms out with the palms flat on either side and have someone measure the distance from the tip of your left middle finger to the tip of the right middle finger.
  • b) You should divide your wingspan distance by 2.5.
  • c) This should give you your draw length. If the resulting number is a fraction, round it to the nearest half-inch.

For example, suppose that your wingspan is 70 inches, then your draw length should be calculated as follows:

70 ÷ 2.5 = 28 inches

Note: When choosing the arrows for your recurve bow, you need to add 1 to 2 inches to your draw length. This will give you the right arrow length to buy.

Remember that the arm span measurement is just an estimation. For a more accurate measurement, use the following methods.

2. Using the Archery Trade Association (ATA) Standard:

What is ATA Standard?

According to the Archery Trade Association standard, the draw length is the distance from the grip to the bowstrings nock point plus 1 3/4 inches.

What do you need to measure?

  • A bow: that draws easily to your appropriate draw length.
  • An instructor or coach: as you have to draw using the proper technique.
  • A "measuring arrow":  a relatively long arrow marked with distances and not for shooting purposes (as below image).
measuring arrow

Measuring arrow - Via

How to measure ATA draw length:

  • Pull back your string with a “measuring arrow”
  • Ask your instructor to mark the distance from your anchor point and pivot point as below.

How to Choose a Recurve Bow Based on Your Draw Length:

Now that I know my draw length, what size recurve bow do I need?

As a rule of thumb, the length of your recurve bow should be at least twice your draw length. However, this may not apply to all cases.

If you are in doubt, the following recurve bow size chart will help you make the right choice:

Your Draw Length

Appropriate Bow Size

14 to 17


17 to 19


19 to 21


21 to 23

Between 60 and 62

24 to 27

Between 64 and 66

27 to 29

Between 66 and 68

29 to 31

Between 68 and 70

Greater than  31 inches 

Between 70 and 72

Note: the bow size is basing on Archery Manufacturers Organization (AMO) standards

Your Height:

A taller archer will require a bigger bow. The following recurve bow size chart will help you choose the right bow side based on your height:

Your Height

Appropriate Recurve Bow Size (Inches)

Up to 5’6″


Up to 5’10”


Up to 6’2″


Taller than 6’2″


Your Using Purpose:

How you intend to use your recurve bow can also stipulate your desired size.

Recurve bows are mainly used for hunting and target archery.

Each application has a unique set of bow size requirements as explained below:



What  Size Recurve Bow Do I Need for Hunting?

Pay close attention to the draw weight if you intend to use the recurve bow for bow hunting.

A bow with a higher draw weight delivers more power, which is required to take down a large game.

A larger draw weight increases your shooting accuracy, especially over long distances.

For such reasons, many states and jurisdictions have minimum draw weight requirements for bow hunting.

For Instance:

You may be required to have min 35# recurve bow to hunt big game in Alaska.

Even if you are not legally required to do so, a recurve bow meant for hunting should have a draw weight of at least 40 pounds.

You may also need bow string silencers for such a powerful bow to quiet it down without spooking your game.

If you’d rather have a shorter bow, a wooden takedown recurve bow, such as the Martin Jaguar or Samick Sage, will be handy.

Target Archery:

target practice

With target archery, you can afford to be flexible as you only need a bow that can shoot accurately.

So your primary concern should be the perfect draw length.

As explained above, you should get a recurve bow best suited to your draw length.

Our recommendation:

Regarding draw weight, start low, say 20#, and work your way up as you gain experience.

However, higher draw-weight recurve bows are more powerful. This translates to higher arrow speed, which can improve your accuracy.


As is the case with many beginner archers, you probably wonder, what size recurve bow do I need?

The right size bow mainly depends on the required draw weight, your draw length, intended use, and your height.

To choose the right bow size, determine your draw length using the above mentioned methods.

After that, you can decide on the appropriate draw weight—which often depends on the intended usage.

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About the Author

Hi, I'm Robert Gate, a hunter from Texas and Founder of ArcheryTopic.

I first learned archery from my dad when I was 12 years old. He gave me a Mathew bow as a gift and instantly fell in love with the pursuit.