How To Measure Arrow Length- Choosing The Correct Legnth For Any Draw

Growing up I never considered archery as this “technical” stuff. I never thought of How To Measure Arrow Length. Just draw the bow and release the arrow, right? Simple stuff! Even now, most bowhunters just walk to their local stores and pick whatever arrows their hands grab from the bucket. How To Make A Crossbow With Simple Household Materials? Click here

However, that should not be the case. Arrow length can greatly affect the your “bow and arrow” experience. You should take it seriously to avoid a horror show.

Choosing the right arrow length is not only a matter of improving performance but also our safety. It is therefore essential that you know How To Measure Arrow Length before you embark on any archery expeditions. Especially so for newbies. I see you. Take care. Click here to read more hunting guides

Consider a short arrow that veers off the arrow rest when you overdraw your bow. When you release the string the arrow could pierce through your other hand holding the riser. Or maybe…let me just save you having to go through this.

So that we are clear… “Arrow size” and “Arrow length” are two words that are confusing.

What’s the Difference?

Arrow size- Diameter of the arrow shaft. It’s a measure of the stiffness – an indicator of how long the arrow can flex without bending.

Arrow length- This is how long the shaft is. Arrow length is not a “one size fits all” matter and depends on bow type and individual draw lengths. The standard measure of arrow length is AMO length. Check the image

Why Is Arrow Length Important?

Why Is Arrow Length Important?
Why Is Arrow Length Important?

Selecting the right arrow length will increase your shooting accuracy and efficiency. And most importantly guarantee your safety. That’s why it is important to know How To Measure Arrow Length. This guide is going to help you through the process and make you an expert. Expert may be a strong word, don’t you think?

What You Will Need

Measuring your arrow length is a simple procedure. All the equipment you’ll need is readily available at home. You’ll need:

  1. A marker.
  2. Measuring tape.
  3. Bow and a long arrow.
  4. Someone to assist you.

Arrow Length Limits

Before we get into measuring, we must first determine the limits of our arrow length. How long and how short should it be?

For Instance, most of us assume that the right arrow length equals the length of the draw. However, that statement is not entirely true. The truth the type of bow, draw length, and spine of the arrow you are using determine the arrow length

It is common knowledge that extremely short arrows are dangerous, but that does not mean that you should opt for the extreme opposite. Increasing your arrow length consequently increase its weight leading to the unintended outcome of reduced arrow speed.

You should always, therefore, measure and maintain your arrow length to the required range.

Bow Types and Arrow Length.

Usually, the bow’s draw length should always match that of the archer. If this is not the case, adjust the bows set full-draw to match your draw length.

Compound bows tend to be rigid and are set to draw to specific distances after which they stop. For this reason, you should shoot at full draw – nothing more. This is unlike traditional recurve bows that can stretch out to almost any length.

Even though a longer draw may equal more arrow speed, you risk losing your accuracy. Especially for beginners. Drawing overly long lengths will never make you a macho. You instead end up missing the target.

Generally, there are two types of bows based on their risers styles; cutaway and non-cutaway, center-shot bows.

You can see the cutaway center-shots in most compound bows. The arrow length should be “less” than the bow’s overall AMO length. Conversely, for the older non-cutaway center-shot bows, the arrow length should be greater than the AMO length of the bow. Primarily the aim is always to keep the arrow length at a safe distance- an inch or two forward of the arrow rest.

It’s now time to measure arrow length. There are basically three methods.

Method 1: Using Bow And Arrow.

Step 1: First, set to match your full draw. Note that this can only work with compound bows that can be set to a limit draw. Make sure that you also have an arrow that is 2 or 3 inches longer than your full-draw length.

Step 2: Next, position yourself in the correct shooting position. Stand upright feet apart and facing an imaginary target.

position yourself in the correct shooting position
Image Via

Step 3: Take the bow and arrow in readiness for shooting. You should be prepared to stay at a full-drawn position for a while in the next step

Step 4: Apply a full drawn and have your assistant mark on the arrow the point just after the riser. You need to stay still in the full-drawn position as your assistant marks the arrow.

Step 5: Measure the length of the arrow to that point and add to it 1-2 inch to get your arrow length.

Method 2: Hands Stretched Out.

This method is simple but fairly accurate. For use, if you don’t have a compound bow.

Step 1: Stretch out both of your arms straight in front of you including your fingers. Ensure they are perpendicular to the rest of your body.

Step 2: Have your assistant measure from the center of your chest to the furthest tip of your fingers. For the average person, this length is approximately equal to the length of the arrow to the tip of risers at full draw.

Step 3: Add 1-2 inches to this length to get your arrow length.

Method 3: Bow Without Arrow.

Same to method 1 except you don’t have the arrow. Instead, you measure the distance between the string – where your thumb and index finger is – to the tip of the riser at full draw. Add 1-2 inch to the length to get your arrow length.

Pro Tips

The 1-2 inches that you add to the what you measure are safety margins. Note that there are few exceptions to these rules. There are modern bows which will use arrows 1”-2” less than the measured lengths shown above.

Sometimes you may find that the Arrows you bought are either too short or too long. You can cut them to size but this weakens the shaft. However, if you have no other option but to cut them. Use a high-speed abrasive wheel saw.

Lastly, as a pro always make sure you do your measurements before you order. Arrow lengths come in standards of between 32″-34″. However, if you find your preferred range does not fall in this range consider having them cut to size at the store. They usually do this for you at no extra charge.


Bottom line, never use undersize or oversize arrows. It can get ugly real quick. If you doubt, a simple google search of the tag “arrow to hand” would unpack loads of horror. You may not be prepared for that. For this reason, always Measure Your Arrow Lengths.

I hope you found this piece helpful. What is your arrow and bow experience so far? How do you measure your arrow lengths? You can share and continue this conversation in the comments section.


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