Draw weight, by definition, is the amount of force required to pull a bowstring back to full draw. In general, you want to have a draw weight that isn’t too heavy for you but also isn’t so low that your mistakes can be amplified due to form inconsistencies. Here are some steps to help you find the proper draw weight for you.
Starting lower is always the best way to ultimately figure out your optimal draw weight. If you decide to start with a very high draw weight, you risk injury that could potentially end your archery career. Shooting may seem too easy when the weight is low, but this helps to build your fundamentals in form and the muscle memory for you to eventually handle higher weight. Simply put, it’s better for you in the long run.
As you shoot more at a low draw weight, your body will acclimatize to the motions and muscles used in shooting a bow, and this is when you can start increasing your weight. However, you need to be patient when increasing weight because if it is done too fast, the risk of injury arises again.
Increasing weight on a recurve bow should happen on a biweekly (every two weeks) basis in order to avoid injury. And the increase in weight should only be about half a turn increase on the tiller bolts every two weeks. Going at this slow rate gives your body and muscles enough time to adjust to the slightly higher weight, and it puts less stress on your shoulder muscles as well. Of course, you’ll have to adjust your tuning as you increase your weight, and this could help with the slow pace; it will give you something to do while you wait for your two-week period to elapse.
In finding your optimal draw weight, you’ll have to consider a couple of points to ensure that you’re shooting what’s best for you. If you are focused on indoor training and competition, you won’t need too much draw weight because of the short distance to the target, and you won’t have to fight the elements such as wind and rain. If your main discipline will be outdoors, you’ll have to find a draw weight that allows you to easily reach your farthest targets (likely 70 meters), but not so much weight that you can’t handle the bow. You need to remember that a high draw weight does not equal high scores; even though your arrow might fly better through the wind, it does little good if you can’t control your shot.
The overall health and longevity of your shoulders should be your No. 1 consideration when making changes to your draw weight. If you feel like you can’t comfortably shoot a certain draw weight, stop immediately. When finding your proper draw weight, take it slow, be patient, and the reward you get will be plenty of years of comfortable shooting.