How To Measure Arrow Length

When I first got into archery, I did some initial research and knew about the different bows sizes but does the length of the arrow really matter? Surely an arrow is an arrow, right? You just nock it into the bow and shoot? Nope, there is a lot more to it than that!

Don’t worry though, it’s not as complicated as it might sound. The aim of this guide is to help show you what Arrow Length is, why it’s important and how to learn what length of arrows you should use.

It’s very important that you need to understand is that not all arrows are the same. The arrows that people use are based on their needs and their size, they are measure to them. It is, therefore, a really bad idea to shoot with someone else arrows, as they won’t be suitable for you.

Arrow Length Vs Arrow Size

The first thing to understand is that the length and the size are two completely different things.

  • The length of the arrow refers to the overall length of the shaft
  • Arrow size is referring to the spine and how stiff the arrow is. It is used to determine the thickness of the shaft and how much you are able to flex it before the arrow bends.
  • Arrow Length Is Important For Your Safety
  • No doubt you can figure out that the arrow is the most dangerous part of archery, injuries can come from arrows before they have even left the bow. When you draw the bowstring back with the arrow attached, if the arrow is too short it could result in it falling off the rest.

But why is that so bad?

If the arrow falls off the rest at the point of shooting, the risk is that it could shoot straight into the hand holding the bow grip…Ouch, that is going to hurt!

This kind of injury will cause lasting impacts on not just your archery but will also impact all aspects of your life. Luckily, if you do measure your arrow length correctly, this shouldn’t happen!

The arrow should be big enough that even when at full draw, the arrow tip should still be slightly past the riser.

How To Measure Correct Arrow Length

There are three methods that can be done to determine what length of arrow you need, two of these can be done on your own whereas the other you will need someone to help. You will also need a tape measure and something to mark such as a Sharpie.

How To Measure Arrow Length

There are also a couple of things you need to ensure before starting;

  • Ensure Correct Posture
  • In order to get the correct measurements, you need to imagine you are standing at the target and ready to draw your bow. Its therefore very important that when taking measurements, you have the correct posture and stance.
  • Correct Drawing of the Bow
  • As well as posture, you need to pretend that you are actually drawing a bow. If you do have a bow then you could actually draw it with an arrow being nocked. (but don’t let go of the bowstring!)Make sure the hand you hold the bow with is stretched our and your drawing hand is at the anchor point. You need to it be as exact and correct as possible to keep your shoulders up and in a straight line.

For advice on learning about drawing a bow, check out my how to shoot a bow guide

How To Measure Arrow Length – The 3 Best Methods

How To Measure Arrow Length – The 3 Best Methods

1. Measuring Your Arm

This method can be done alone if you do not have someone to help, although you will need a tape measure. Hold the tape measure with the hand that you would usually hold your bow with. With your drawing hand pull on the metal part of the tape measure and stretch out the tape until it reaches your anchor point.With your hand that’s holding the tape measure, flip the switch that locks it in position. Look at the measurement and add an additional 1 inch, this would be your arrow length.If you do have someone that can help measure then stretch your arms out in front of you and extend your fingers with your palms together. If your friend then measures from your chest to your fingertips and adds an additional 1 inch, you will find the correct length for your arrows.

2. Measuring Your Draw

This second method you will need someone to help, as well as a measuring tape and a bow for you to hold. To determine the arrow length you simply need to hold up the bow and draw the bowstring back to your chosen anchor point, your friend will then need to measure from the string to the front of the riser. Once they have this measurement, they will then want to add an extra half an inch.

3. Using A Draw Arrow

A draw arrow is an arrow that has all of the different measurements on it, therefore when you draw it back you can ask someone to tell you’re the measurement. Another method of doing this would be to use an extra long arrow and go to full draw and ask someone to mark it with a pen and then measure the distance. Proper draw arrows are however pretty low cost and a little more exact, you can often find them on Amazon.


I hope this article will show you just how important it is to get the right length of arrows. By following one of the above 3 methods you should have the right arrow length and be able to fully draw your bow, without any risk of injury.

Adam has been enjoying the sport of archery since 2010, intially getting the bug for it whilst on holiday and trying it out in an activity center. Since his very first eperiance of holding a bow and arrow, he fell in love with it and can now be found at the range or in the great outdoors as often as possible.

His main go to bow type is a recurve but he loves shooting from compounds as well. Adam created The Archery Guide as a way to help others get into this great activity and to share his knowledge/experiences.