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Archery Over-Bowing? Are You Guilty?

Over-Bowing? Are You Guilty?

archer holding a recurve bow with attached quiver getting ready to draw.
Who’s over-bowing, oh no! Not you!

Thanks Frank, what a great topic that many people may not even be aware they are guilty of.

Too Many Bows? That’s Silly.

Over-bowing? I know, I know that’s when you have too many bows because you’re only allowed…no that’s not it, you’re allowed as many as you want. It must be when the bow is too large for your hand, nah, that doesn’t make sense either! Who came up with these terms anyway?

Do you know what it means? Good, if I’m wrong, (I’m pretty sure I won’t be), you can correct me in the comment section below. You walk into an archery shop just before hunting season and there are a few conversations being held amongst the fellow archers. One of the conversations poses the question, “What’s your draw weight set at?” Suddenly every conversation that seemed more important than the other comes to a halt. 

Is Draw Weight Your Focus?

Draw weight is a subject archers may take pride in, and sometimes it seems even more important than whether or not you can actually get on target. As the other half of the conversationalist answers with a humble “I have mine set at 45 pounds.” The rest insert their’s;

“My Bear Species EV is set at 60 pounds.” 

“Well my Diamond Edge XT has a 70 pound draw.”

Then this small framed man walks in and says, “You want to try shooting my bow, it’s set at 100 pounds?” What do you say to that? 

If you were me you would say, “ No man, but I’d like to see you do it!” 

As you follow him to the indoor range and watch him gear up for this amazing feat, you’re pretty confident this little guy is guilty of over-bowing. You know this is something you’re incapable of doing because your bow is set at 70 pounds and you, well…we’ll get to you later. At this point you’re pretty sure he is on his way to failing. 

Accomplish the Desired Results

The anticipation to watch another fail, why is it so exciting? Human nature maybe? Or the anticipation to see if it can be done, why is this so exciting? Because then you know it’s possible, that it can be accomplished, even by such a small archer! 

He sets his PSE Carbon Force HD Hunter Arrows in the ground quiver, he picks the bow up with the grip, checks his sights to be sure they are positioned properly. Then he checks his arrow, the fletching, shaft and field tip. He nocks the arrow with the cock feather up. Next he attaches his Trophy Ridge Precise Pro Release to the D-Loop and with the perfect form and a push pull motion he is effortlessly in the “T” stance preparing to release the arrow. 

With a perfect performance, the arrow is beautifully centered in the bull and you should pick your jaw up off the ground before he turns around to see it. That my friend is an example of not being over-bowed. It has more to do with you than the bow. What are your capabilities?

I’ll Use You

Oh, you want an example of being over-bowed? May I use you as an example? Let’s say you are the conversationalist that answered, “Well my Diamond Edge XT Bow has a 70 pound draw.” While you are there, in the indoor shooting range, it’s your turn. Place your arrows in the ground quiver, check your sights, your bow and your arrows before you shoot. Now get geared up. 

With the arrow nocked and your release attached, go for it! Why is your face turning red? Did I hear a slight grunt? Were you shaking? You are extremely unstable, whenever you’re ready let it fly! Whoa buddy! Were you aiming at the bull? Definitely not the same performance you just witnessed. If this is your experience, you my friend, are over-bowing. This my friend may cause many issues as Hank has pointed out previously. 

“Think that over-bowing is a contributing factor to wrist-slap. If the bow is too heavy it’s natural to lock the elbow and bring the bow string closer to the body to get maximum support and best mechanical advantage for the draw.” 

“Being able to draw the bow easily and smoothly will allow a relaxed and consistent release. If you need to jerk the bow to draw it you need to do some weight training and/or turn the power down. The “extra range” presumably gained by shooting a heavy bow is usually lost to not being able to hit anything way out there anyway.”


If Accuracy Isn’t Your Focus…

Yes, the heavier draw weight means a higher achieved velocity giving more foot pounds of energy as well as an increased distance. Big but here; if you can’t achieve accuracy, what’s the point? 

arrow nestled neatly inside the 10 ring on the archery target.
The desired results.

There’s no shame in being real. Drop that draw weight down so you can achieve the same consistent accuracy your new friend does. How strong you are or aren’t shouldn’t be the focus, can you consistently hit the bull? 

author avatar
The Bow Bully
The Bow Bully discusses a variety of archery topics and offers tips, advice and the occasional nudge to make you a better bowhunter. With years of experience, and an attitude to match, you'll find the Bully has something to offer both beginners and seasoned hunters.

4 thoughts on “Over-Bowing? Are You Guilty?”

  1. Yea, I have been guilty of over bowing.

    “Back in the day”, I bought a second hand High Country Storm, it had been tuned by a friend that was a hunter and 3D competitor, and it was very accurate at an 85lb draw.

    I tinkered with it and never could improve up on or match the accuracy of the 85lb setting at lower draw weights.

    So I just got used to it and used it in 3d competitions. (I also enjoyed the bragging rights that my older brother couldn’t draw my bow.) He used an older Oneida Eagle set at 55 lbs.

    Fast forward a couple of years, and a change in jobs put me in a less physically demanding profession.

    The first 3d shoot of the season was a wake-up, after about the 10th target, it was all I could do to draw the bow.

    The bow eventually found a new home, and I went back to shooting things i was more comfortable with.


    • Ian,

      Thank you for sharing that experience. It is a perfect illustration of over-bowing. It’s a shame that it couldn’t be retuned so you could enjoy it more. Hopefully, it went to someone who could enjoy it. But, it’s good that you recognized your limits, and didn’t push yourself to the breaking point.

  2. TBB,

    I’ve found that if you can draw and (accurately) shoot a bow when sitting in a chair then you can handle that draw weight. A dozen shots without undue fatigue will confirm that.

    People don’t realize that heavy hunting clothes and cold muscles will work against you and that should be allowed for when setting up the bow weight.

    A comment about “real” accuracy. Your group size, after warmup, on flat ground at a familiar range/target free of obstacles doesn’t mean much when hunting. Accuracy is the first shot you make (or don’t 😉 ) in hunting conditions. Practice accordingly, with all your gear. ..I blew an easy shot when a new hat interfered with my draw and broke my focus.

    Two does eating crab apples on the front lawn at the moment. They are not our locals so that means the summer patterns are changing.


    • You make some excellent points.

      Thank you for the tip about drawing from a chair. It could come in very handy. Limiting body movement on the draw forces you to only use your upper body and demonstrates your fatigue point. That’s a great test.

      Practicing in your full gear and on varied terrain are also great tips. It’s easy for expectations and experience to mismatch and hunting presents much differently than practice.

      Thanks for the great tips, I’ll make sure to use them.

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