[shhh-thunk] Hey guys, this is NUSensei. In the past I’ve covered several videos on a recurring topic: draw weight. How to pick the right draw weight, how to know if you have the wrong draw weight, draw weight egos, and several others, and one of the recurring questions is “how do I know when it’s time to move up?” This question is a good question. It’s both simple and complex at the same time. People who ask me this question often consider draw weight to be a progression. Kind of like in weightlifting, where you start from a low weight and over time, as you get stronger, you move to more weight, and that makes sense. Draw weight doesn’t exactly work that way. Some people do pick draw weights based on physical conditioning. Shooting can be a physical activity, that’s why they do archery, but the idea of moving up in draw weight isn’t something which can be easily measured or judged. I can’t say that “oh, you’ve been shooting for three months, therefore you can choose a higher draw weight” or “you’ve been shooting for three years, therefore 30 pounds.” It doesn’t really work that way, and when I give people advice on how to choose draw weight, and people are stuck on how to advance. there are some complexities involved in making the right decision at the right time. As I’ve said in previous videos i’m a firm believer in the notion that your draw weight should be chosen with a purpose in mind. Some people consider draw weight to be a level indicator, where the higher experience you are, or the stronger person you are, the higher draw weight you use. It’s like “look I’m level 35, therefore I can use a 35 pound bow.” That’s not really the way it works. When I say purpose, I mean what are you actually using a bow for. Now, at the moment I’m holding my 25 pound OMP Adventure, Now, a 25 pound bow is relatively light. It’s not a hunting bow. It’s not a competition bow, but a 25 pound bow is still quite hefty. You can use this and shoot in the backyard for hours, and it’s good enough for you to shoot 30 maybe 40 meters and still have a fighting chance to get decent groupings. This is a good thing. I mean that means you can shoot frequently, you can shoot for longer periods, and it doesn’t feel as stressful when you shoot a 25 pound bow, and honestly the average person, not the average archer, but just the average person, doesn’t really need more than a 25 pound bow. 30 pound at most, especially if you’re a fit, athletic adult, but if you are just the average person who wants a bow then picking a decent weight like 25 pounds may be all you need. So, before you look into progressing, ask yourself the question “why do I need a higher draw weight?” and there are several common answers. The first reason is hunting. This is a legitimate reason because there are many areas with minimum draw weight laws, and this is often a 40 pound minimum. This is important because a bow that is too weak would not guarantee an ethical kill. So, you do require a certain draw weight, and it’s often 40 pound or maybe 45 pound. You have to look this up. So, people who want to hunt will specifically need a higher draw weight. So when planning out their progression they may start on a low draw weight, like 25 or 30 pound bow, and over time it will grow into a 40 pound or higher bow. The second good reason is distance. As I said before, a 25 pound bow may be effective up to around 30 or 40 meters, but as you go further and further back, you start pushing, what I will say, the limits of your bow. Now, a 25 pound bow can shoot 50 or 60 meters, depending on your arrows, but it gets to the point where you have to arc so high that there is a lot of inconsistency in the way the arrow reaches the target, and especially because a lower draw weight bow has less velocity, the arrow will take more time to get to the target which means more wind drift. These reasons are good reasons why you might want a higher draw weight. A higher draw weight means a flatter trajectory. That means less sight adjustment if you’re using sites. If you’re using a bare bow or shooting instinctive, that means it’s it kind of easier to get the arrow on target with less compensation in terms of where you’re aiming. That’s quite a good thing so a higher draw weight bow will be better at longer distances, and if you’re shooting long distance, like competition or an Olympic competition, for example, then you generally want a higher draw weight. It doesn’t mean you start high, after all you can still shoot 70m with a 30 pound bow and carbon arrows, but you might want a higher draw weight to improve consistency. The third reason is just wanting to have a stronger bow. This may be tied to a physical reason, where you want to have the strength and condition to use heavier bows. While archery is a shooting sport that’s about accuracy and hitting the target, I can’t judge someone for wanting to be a beefier, bulkier guy by shooting a bow, and honestly that’s not a bad idea. You know, that will give you a lot of benefits. So if you see shooting higher draw weights as your objective, then that, too, can be a legitimate reason within reason. With these goals in mind let’s get back to the question “how do I know i’m ready to move up?” Again bear in mind that arhcery is not purely a strength sport. It’s a technique sport. So if you go up in draw weight, you’re going to sacrifice some of your current form to adjust to a higher draw weight. It will be harder, and this isn’t a simple matter of “I can shoot for three hours,” “I can shoot 100 arrows.” You don’t go “1…2…3..bing! I’m done.” No. Draw weights are a bit more complex. So, let’s talk about some of the things you need to be able to do before you can confidently go “I’m ready.” The first criterium, and the most important one in my opinion, is control. How well can you control your shot process, and how good is your form with your current draw weight. Now I’m using a 25 pound bow here, and from start to finish I should be able to control every step, from the draw, to the anchor, and the hold, and of course the release. Which I won’t do(!) But that’s a 25 poud bow. If you can do this every single time, with the same consistency, the same flow, the same control, then that is a good indicator that you are able to move up in draw weight. Again this is something you have to do from start to finish, from your first shot to your last shot. It might be a 120 shots in a day. That is quite normal, and if you can do that from start to finish then you have a good foundation to move up. In comparison, 45-pound Samick Sage. Start-to-finish, draw, anchor, and there we go. Now I feel a huge difference here. 25 pounds…45 pound bow, big difference, but what I feel immediately is, I don’t have full control. I already have certain bad habits. I might be leaning backwards a bit. My shoulder might be popping up. My elbow might be twisting inwards. There are small indicators of bad form, which indicates poor control of the shot process. This is important. Now, if I’m shooting a 45 pound bow, and I want to move up to a 60 pound bow, but I can’t shoot this one well, then already I don’t meet that criterium. The next criterium is your grouping. Can you shoot well enough to get reasonable size groupings at the distances you normally shoot at, and this is an important factor. Bear in mind that moving up in draw weight will normally result in a drop in consistency and accuracy, again, because it’s harder to control a heavier bow. So, if you can’t get tight groupings with your current light bow at short distances, then you shouldn’t be moving up yet because there are flaws in your technique, there is something you’re not doing right, and you just don’t have the foundation to go to more difficult bows. The third criterium is endurance. Do you have the stamina to use your new draw weight for a full day of shooting or however long you shoot. You might be okay for several shots, but if you are going to shoot a full 144 arrow round, then can you do that? Now, of course, transitioning to a higher draw weight means means that you probably won’t be able to handle it right away, but you have to able to do so within reason. If it’s simply impossible to last more than several shots, then perhaps you’re going way too high way too soon. So, keeping that in mind, if you can shoot your current bow endlessly nearly, then that’s ok, but if you’re reaching the peak of your performance, and the peak of your endurance, then perhaps moving up at this point isn’t the right decision. Next question is “how do I move up?” For the average archer you probably don’t need to do any extra training just to move up.The sheer fact that you shoot frequently, this might be daily or nearly daily, will be enough to condition you to use a heavier bow, especially if you have control, you’re shooting well, and you have the endurance. That can be obtained through sheer repetition and practice. Now, if you’re not shooting regularly, then you wont have that conditioning. Can you still shoot a higher weight bow? The answers is yes, but you may have to do extra training, like doing weights, bent over rows, or using stretching bands or your bow to train your endurance through holding exercises. The next question is “how much weight should I go up by?” And this question is determined more by your budget than anything else. Now, ideally you should be going up around two pounds at a time, because, same with weightlifting, adding a few pounds or adding another kilogram is a huge difference. You might think “oh yeah, 30 pounds, 32 pounds isn’t that big a deal.” It actually is. When you’re doing something that requires fine muscle control and accuracy and consistency, adding one more pound will make a difference between smooth control and absolute mess. The smaller the intervals, say if you go from 32…34…36 and so on, that will ensure the smoothest transition to your new draw weight. That means less of a drop in your form and easier adaptation. Of course, you probably don’t want to buy 10 sets of limbs. That’s quite expensive, even if you can trade them in, or even if you can sell them or save them, you probably don’t want to get so many sets of limbs. So, because of this, people might opt to go for bigger jumps, maybe a five-pound jump. That’s probably, I guess, the minimum most people will want to jump up by, otherwise they might go for a 10 pound jump. Whoa! This is getting a little extreme. If you go from like a 20 pound to a 30 pound it’s not that big a difference because, relatively speaking, most adults can handle 30 pounds with some practice, but the higher you go the harder it gets. Going from 40 to 50, or 50 to 60, is exponentially harder. So just keep in mind that while you might have a budget in mind, you don’t want to jump too much because that can completely wreck you. I’m not just talking about physically injuring yourself, but the fact that you cannot control the bow anymore, will stop you from shooting well. So, you know, maybe two pounds to four pounds, five pounds rounding off, but really any more than five pounds at a time and you’re making a big risk. Can you shoot more than five pounds in growth? Yes, but you really have to know what your capabilities are and what your limitations are. To sum up, beyond specific reasons such as hunting or competition, you don’t need to move up in draw weight. Most people just want to move up in draw weight, and that’s a fair thing to do, but if you want to move up in draw weight, you need to fulfill criteria. Can you shoot the bow well? Can control the shot process from start to finish, and can you do so for an entire session, for an entire day, for days at a time. If you can fulfill these criteria, then you’re pretty safe to move up in draw weight. You don’t need the extra exercises unless you don’t have the fitness to meet the new weight. The final thing is you shouldn’t advance too high too soon, because you’ll sacrifice your form, and it may be beyond what you can currently handle. Try to go as small as possible, but keeping in mind your budget may limit how many limbs you can buy. That’s assuming that you have a takedown bow. If you’re buying a one piece bow, then you can’t change the draw weight, that’s it, and that’s the case. You’re kind of locked into it. The same advice applies: you don’t want to go for an extremely strong bow if you’re starting low, but if you want that in a 60-pound long bow, then you have to work into it. You can’t assume you can use it right away. To use it safely and properly you have to be prepared. Anyway, this is NUSensei.
Hope this was helpful. Thanks for watching, and I’ll see you next time.