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Increasing Your Strength To Achieve An Optimum Draw Weight

Choosing the right draw weight for your compound bow can be difficult. On one hand, a higher draw weight allows for less arc and more accurate shooting--up to a point. Conversely, a bow that is too heavy will reduce your ability to maintain posture, practice effectively, and repeat your motions.

That's why it can be a good idea to improve your overall strength. By training to effectively manage a high draw weight, your effectiveness as a shooter will improve significantly.

Training Goals

There are two things to consider when setting your training goals for increasing your draw weight. Experts suggest that a bow's draw weight be approximately 75% of what you can comfortably pull. Also, due to industry standards regarding arrow weight, there is a point of diminishing returns when your bow reaches a 60 pound draw weight. 

That means your goal should be able to complete a pull of 80 pounds without too much strain. If you're a hunter, you could benefit from more strength under certain rare circumstances. However, your accuracy will not increase much from draw weight alone past this point--and accuracy is always the primary concern.


The only way to increase your comfortable draw capacity at a place like Wilcox Bait Tackle over time is to practice and exercise. No exercise can recreate the movement required to draw your bow by itself. That means there is no real substitute for time spent on the range. However, you'll always be pulling a comfortable draw weight when shooting, so you'll need to add targeted exercises to foster quick improvement.

Unfortunately, archery is not an isolated movement. Proper strength training for archery will always involve a total-body approach. The good news is that total-body strength doesn't have to take a long time. It also means that you have a lot of opportunities for strength gain--and you can maintain a balanced physique.

Upper Body Exercises

The most important muscles to focus on in the upper body are the back, shoulders, chest, and forearms. While it's possible to target each of these groups individually, the most effective means of strength training involve compound lifts. These lifts involve full range-of-motion lifts with free weights, and engage multiple muscles at the same time. All of these lifts should be completed in three sets of ten.

  • Bench Press--Using a flat bench and a barbell, lower the weight to your chest, then press upward until your arms are locked. Be sure to use a spotter when lifting heavy weight.
  • Overhead Press--While standing, raise a barbell from shoulder height over your head while locking your arms. Be sure to engage your core and your buttocks while doing so.
  • Lateral Raises--Hold dumbbells in your hands with your arms hanging at your side. Without bending your elbows, raise them so that your arms are straight out at shoulder height, then return to a relaxed, hanging position.

Lower Body Exercises

Just as with upper body exercises, compound lifts for your lower body are the best choice. These movements will also strengthen your core, providing more stability during your shots. Again, you'll want to complete three sets of ten lifts.

  • Squats--Place a barbell across your shoulders. While keeping your heels on the ground, lower your body into a squatting position. Keep the angle of your knees as close to parallel at the bottom of the movement.
  • Deadlifts--While standing over a barbell on the ground, squat down and grasp the bar. Keep your back straight and lift the weight to a standing position. Your arms should not move from a locked position--keep the lift in your legs and back.

All of these exercises can be completed in the same day--and should never be done more than three times per week. If you continue this routine over time, it won't be long before a 60 pound draw is an effortless experience for you!