[shhh-thunk] Hey guys, this is NUSensei. A lot of people who get into archery for
the first time and want to buy their first bow have faced the challenge of picking
the right draw weight. I’ve done videos on draw weight before,
but this is something I continually keep getting asked is “what draw weight
should I use for my first bow?” Something like 20 to 30 pounds is okay.
That’s a pretty general ballpark figure. Now to complicate things, you can find
charts online that recommend certain bow sizes and certain draw weights for certain
people, and, unfortunately, as easy as it is to find this information,
a lot of this is pure bollocks! I’m sorry to say this, but the
information is so generic and unhelpful it’s actually harmful to a new buyer
because a lot of people who look at this chart will see things like “if you are
this age and this body weight you should be using a 60 pound bow.” That’s crazy!
There’s no basis behind this recommendation. Now, for bow sizes it makes some sense because
if you’re using a full-size target bow or large longbow, a hunting bow, then yes there
are certain advantages to using a longer bow. You don’t have to follow the
recommendations, but draw weight? It’s ridiculous because a lot of these charts don’t factor
in what kind of bow you use. You might be using a recurve or a compound,
but these charts don’t distinguish. Above all your body weight doesn’t
really count for much. If anything, in archery, it doesn’t matter how much you weigh, you still can’t use a heavy bow if you don’t
have the strength, endurance, and stamina, and so on. So, you just have to be very careful when
reading these charts, and, if anything, ignore these charts. A lot of my
time spent on my Facebook page, on my channel, and on reddit is meant to be
pointing out to people: don’t follow these charts! *sigh* Anyway back on topic!
Now, the topic of draw weight is something which is brought up very often and for good reason. A lot of people feel that they are peer
pressured to use a heavier bow. “Anything less than 45 pounds is not manly enough.” Now again, I’ve done a video on draw
weight egos before, but let’s say you have the chance to try a bow in person, in store. Well, how can you tell what draw weight is right for you? Many people who go shopping for a bow in
person will have this kind of experience. They’ll find a nice looking bow, and they go “Oh yeah, 45 pounds. Yeah, I lift weights. I’m a
very fit guy. I do swimming and athletics and so on.” “So I should be able to handle a big bow.”
And the other common thing they do is they’ll pick a bow up and they’ll pull it back once and go “Oh yeah, that’s pretty easy. I can pull 45 pounds.” The thing to remember, however,
is that archery isn’t about doing one shot. This isn’t powerlifting where you’re trying to
do the heaviest weight possible. In archery you’ll spend hours shooting most days
if you’re really into it, and you have to be able to control the shot.
Archery is not a power sport. Strength helps. Strength can get you using heavier bows,
yes, and heavy bows do have certain advantages. Yes, but archery is not a power sport.
It’s a precision sport, and you have to balance out the weight of your bow versus
how much control you have over your shot. One easy test you can do is to hold
the bow at full draw for 30 seconds without significant shake. You will notice an absolutely huge
difference between what you perceived to be an easy weight which you can pull once, and
something which you can shoot multiple times over a long period of time, and this
is especially useful if you get the chance to use the bow in-store or you
get the chance to borrow someone’s bow at the club, for example. Again I’m bringing out my two bare
bow recurves. I’ve got my 45 pound Samick Sage and my
“wimpy” 25 pound OMP Adventure 2.0. What i’m going to do is the 30 second test,
which means for the next 30 seconds I’m going to stand here and hold my bow.
I’m going to show you a back view, and while I personally can handle a 45-pound bow, watch the amount of shake that starts to
kick in at around 10, 15, and 20 seconds. And maybe this will help! That actually wasn’t too bad.
Let’s try a whole minute. All right, so that worked better than I
thought again, but then again I have been shooting 40
pounds for years, so, holding a 45-pound bow at my draw length shouldn’t be
unexpected. I’ve completed the one minute barrier. I did feel that burn, so, if I was
choosing a bow, and I did this test for 30 seconds, then I’d be more confident that I
could control the shot process, assuming that I’ve learned the basics,
but let’s compare that to a 25-pound bow. Now that was about 45 seconds.
I stopped because I was feeling that cramp and burn coming in, but I did do the Sage for one and a
half minutes so that’s a big factor here. The big difference, I’m not sure if you could see it on
camera, was that there was absolutely no resistance that I could feel from a 25 pound bow.
The burn that I was feeling was just from muscle fatigue from having to stay expanded for more than
30 seconds, and that’s the thing you have to consider that you don’t want to fight
against the bow. If you are using a 45-pound bow, if you can confidently handle it then
fantastic, but if you can’t handle this weight, and remember I’ve just done long holds for
nearly two minutes, if I want to do it again, I don’t want to feel like I can’t
hold this for 30 seconds, but this is the thing, you don’t want to
fight against the bow. The bow is meant to be an extension of you and your shot
process. So, if the bow is too strong for you, it will completely ruin your archery
experience. Not only do you not shoot well because you can’t control it, you risk serious injury if you’re not
built up to do what I just did, and I’m not a fit guy, but I’ve been doing archery for 5 years now. If you can’t do this for 30 seconds at
your chosen draw weight then you may be seriously over bowed. It’s much better to
shoot a lower draw weight and control it for longer, than have to fight against
the bow. And it really depends on what you need your bow for.
If all you’re doing is this: then you don’t need to go for a very high
draw weight. If you just want some fun casual backyard shooting then you can
do that frequently and comfortably with a lighter draw weight, and you just have
to get over the fact that having a high weight doesn’t mean everything. People don’t need to shoot heavier than they need to. People who go hunting, for example, have a need.
People who shoot competitive outdoor target archery have a need, but for the average
archer, if you don’t need to extend your range or have the best velocity, you just
want to have some recreational fun, then you don’t need to push yourself to
go for a heavier draw weight. Now yes, there is a certain satisfaction
that comes with shooting higher draw weights. It feels nice. It zips straight.
It comes off the fingers nicely. Yes, that’s something which can be a
mid-term or long term goal. You don’t have to
push yourself so hard and so soon. And yes, some people do archery
for the physical challenge. I get that. I think that is a very fair
reason to do archery, but again, archery is primarily a
precision sport not a power sport, and you shouldn’t try to confuse the two or
do both at the same time. Learn the form and finesse first, and then, as you increase your
strength and endurance, then work seriously towards heavier bows. There’s also another bit of advice which gets
passed around, and that is “you can grow into your bow.” Most people can grow into a 45-pound bow
or 50 or 60 pound bow after a few months of shooting.
To some extent this is true. Shooting itself is an exercise, and if you do it frequently
enough, you will, over time, gain the strength and endurance needed to shoot
the bow comfortably, assuming all else is OK. Form and finesse and precision and so
on. But you can physically work up to most draw weights. That is an acceptable fact.
I can understand that, but at the same time it makes assumptions about people. It assumes that you are active.
It assumes that you are going to shoot regularly. It assumes that you want to shoot a higher draw weight.
If you are guilting people to shoot a higher draw weight
just because they can, then that could ruin their archery
career because they might never reach that stage. Again, the average person
might be someone like me! I’m just, you know, a professional high school teacher
who sits at a desk and plays computer games half the time. I don’t have that natural
ability. I’m not an athlete. So I can’t expect someone like me to go super
saiyan and suddenly use heavier bows because someone told me to. That said, if you do want to use a higher draw weight
for hunting or competition, then it is something you must set to achieve.
You have to make this a goal. It’s not much different from going to
the gym and lifting weights or doing bodybuilding or doing powerlifting.
You have to set reasonable goals. You have to work towards it, and that
means you may have to go to the gym to do weight training to increase your strength. You might have to use your bow.
The same exercises I demonstrated, trying to test the bow for 30 seconds or a minute, those same exercises can be used to
increase your strength and endurance. So, yes, you can work up to it,
but the key is it something you must work up to. You aren’t naturally gifted with the strength
and endurance to use most bows. Now, yes, some people do have that physical
ability, but the average person must work towards it. So, if you are keen to use heavier bows, and
you’re not at the stage where you can comfortably use one, don’t let it stop you, but you must
actually work towards it. That means shooting frequently.
That means, often, doing extra training when you’re not shooting, and only then can
you comfortably handle higher draw weights. It isn’t a natural process. Every person is different. Some will
grow more than others, but the average person needs to consider these things when
picking draw weight. As usual, it’s better to start low then go high, once you feel comfortable, but if you go high then just understand there are certain things
you must do to maintain your fitness and endurance to shoot well. Anyway, this is NUSensei.
I hope you found this helpful. Thank you for watching,
and I’ll see you next time.