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My child is 120 cm tall, what bow length should I get? I am 170 cm tall, can I still shoot with a 68″ Olympic Recurve? The series of questions can go on and on about this topic in even more detail. But we want to provide immediate and best possible first aid wherever possible. Therefore, we have created tables for the various disciplines, which should serve in particular for a first orientation.

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(Olympic) Recurve

The appropriate bow length in this table is basically determined by the draw length. To simplify matters, we have determined the corresponding height, should you not know the exact draw length yet.

But we generally recommend to find that out as soon as possible, because you won’t be able to avoid the draw length for long in archery (e.g. spine of the arrow, etc.). To learn how to correctly determine your draw length, we have a suitable article here.

Height in cmDraw Length in InchBow Length in Inch
up to 105up to 1548
ab 186ab 3172

Note: You can convert inch values to cm like this: [inch value] x 2.54 = [value in cm].

The values in this table are intended for initial orientation. There is not really a ‚wrong choice‘ these days, and even if the table says otherwise, you might deviate from it with your final setup. Basically, a shorter bow means more tension and energy which can be transferred to the arrow. However, the shorter the bow, the harder and more uncomfortable it can feel for the archer. Extremely short bows also pose a risk of breaking.

A longer bow feels more comfortable in the first place. But associated with this, the arrow can also lose energy the larger the bow turns out to be. At this point, you might ask yourself: do I need that much energy at all, can I cut back here to get a more comfortable feeling, or not? In marginal cases, for example, it would not be wrong, especially as a beginner, to choose the next larger bow length. A slightly larger bow is better than one that is slightly too small.

Note: This table refers only to Olympic recurves and bare bows. You have to distinguish them from traditional recurve bows, as these are basically about 6″- 8″ shorter.

Bow length for compound – a ‚false friend‘

Choosing a compound based on the length of the bow is a ‚false friend‘. Technically, the bow length is not an exclusion criterion for any compound. What you really need to know, is the right draw length, because not every compound can technically offer every draw length (especially for very short or very long draw lengths).

A more detailed article on this is in the works!


(Hunting)Recurve, Horsebow, Longbow

We see the bow length of traditional bows strongly dependent on the type of bow and the according manufacturer. There is not really a rule here that you could use with the variables bow length and extension length, or body size. In this respect, the values given are to be understood as a very rough orientation, even more so than with the olympic recurve, and are not to be referred to special bow models.

In principle, a hunting recurve is 4″-6″ shorter than an olympic recurve. On the one hand, this has something to do with the shooting environment (e.g. forest) and on the other hand with the technique (e.g. face-walking, see glossary). Nevertheless, it is important to know that an extremely short bow runs the risk of breaking. On the other hand, a bow that is much too long may feel more comfortable, but this could be because you are not using your energy optimally.

Height in cmDraw Length in InchBow Length in Inch
up to 105up to 1548-50
ab 176ab 29ab 64

Horsebows are generally much shorter than the rest of the bow types. Therefore, the importance of the bow length in relation to the height is not given. After all, even someone taller than 170 can shoot a 48″ horsebow. It is much more important to make sure that the bow you want can handle the draw length you need.

Longbows are attributed with „long“ because they are longer than other types of bows in the traditional range. But they are comparable in size to the Olympic Recurve and therefore you could look at the table above for a first orientation.

We wouldn’t even need a measuring tape here, actually. This little fella will be able to shoot his bow for a few more tournaments until he ‚outgrows‘ it… that’s for sure 🙂