Today, according to Outdoor Life, bowhunters and crossbow hunters take 25 percent of the 5.86 million whitetails killed in the U.S. and Canada. Compound bows are used the most frequently. They permit you to hold more weight and the pulleys reduce the strain on your shoulder once you get to full draw, offering you more time to aim accurately. They also allow you to maintain a draw for several minutes while you wait for your target animal to move into a shooting path.

Every bow has a draw weight. Determining what is right for you greatly depends on your skill level and what you hope to achieve. Every person has an ideal draw weight. Some archers easily pull 30 pounds, while others can pull over 70 pounds.

Draw Weight Choices

Ideally, bows used for hunting deer should have a draw weight of at least 40lbs, at a peak draw of 28 inches.

In Olympic archery, competitors use recurve bows with a mechanical sight that draw an average of around 48.5 pounds for the men and 33 pounds for the women. 50lbs of draw weight is difficult to hold at full draw steadily for enough time to shoot accurately for a beginner, because it takes time to learn how to utilize the correct muscles – especially if you are trying to learn how to be the most accurate you can be.

Some shooters are capable of shooting 70, 80, or 90lbs, but most adults shoot between 60 and 70lbs. Since bows today are significantly more efficient, 40lb compound bows are more than capable of bagging a whitetail deer.

Body Weight Suggestions

Your build and bodyweight are the best way to determine suggested Bow Draw Weights.

Type of Person/Build/Body Weight (lbs.)/Compound Suggested Draw Weight (lbs.):

Large/Strong Child: 100-130/25-35
Small Woman: 100-130/25-35
Average Size Woman: 130-160/30-40
Large/Strong Woman: 160+/45-55

Tips for Beginners

Good draw weights for beginners are:

Youth (Age 8 to 12): 10 – 16 pounds
Teens (Age 12 to 18): 14 – 28 pounds
Women with above-average strength or younger males: 30 – 40 pounds
Average Man: 40 – 50 pounds

If you are a beginner keep the following in mind:

  • Too much tension on undeveloped muscles and joints is painful
  • A draw weight that is too heavy prevents you from learning proper shooting form
  • More repetitions at a low draw weight expedite the learning process by developing motor skills faster
  • Developing good muscle memory and perfecting your shot cycle and execution leads to tighter arrow groups and greater precision
  • Shooting a bow with a draw weight that is too heavy can lead to personal injury
  • Practice shooting from your knees, as well as from a seated position. You should also practice shooting from a tree stand so you can get used to the angle and limited foot space

A good rule of thumb is that a shooter should be able to shoot a bow about 30 times in a row without being fatigued.