Understanding Bow Specs and Speed Ratings

Whether you’re in the market for a new bow, seeking out advice from an avid archer, or trying to figure out what type of target you need for your bow, understanding bow specs and speed ratings will help bring everything into focus.

Knowing the lingo will help you talk the archery talk and walk the archery walk. Here’s a quick look at a few bow specs and what they mean for you:

Draw Length

Draw length is a measurement (in inches) of how far you pull back the bow. Your draw length is archery’s version of your clothing size. Just as clothes get tailored to fit you, the bow you choose must fit your draw length. For compound bow archers, a bow technician approximates your draw length based on your wingspan. When you have a proper draw length, you shoot better and feel more comfortable at full draw.

Unlike a compound bow, recurves and longbows don’t have set draw lengths. However, the bow tech must still find your draw length because the bow’s length must match your draw length.

Draw Weight

Measured in pounds, draw weight is the amount of force needed to pull a bow.

Recurves and longbows have incrementally heavier draw weights the farther they’re pulled. The standard for determining their draw weight is taken at 28 inches of draw length. The best way to learn your draw weight with certainty is to have an archery shop check it at your preferred draw length.

Compound bows, however, have set draw weights. A compound with a 50-pound draw weight at 28 inches will remain at 50 pounds even if it’s adjusted to a 26-inch draw length. Compound bows can be adjusted to different draw weights and typically have about a 10-pound adjustment range.

Feet Per Second

Arrow speeds are measured in feet per second (FPS). To measure arrow speed, archery stores and manufacturers shoot arrows through a chronograph. When browsing bow catalogs, you will see bow speeds written in FPS. A bow’s speed is affected by the draw weight, draw length, arrow weight, string materials, and accessories, such as peeps and silencers.

It’s also important to understand where a bow’s speed rating comes from and what it means. Most bows use the IBO (International Bowhunting Organization) specification. This calls for shooting a bow with an arrow that weighs 5 grains per pound of draw weight and is generally done with a bow set at 70-pound draw weight and 30-inch draw length with only one nock set on the string. Another specification that is gaining some popularity is the ATA (Archery Trade Association) spec. It’s similar, yet much more restrictive with very little leeway in the way the bow has to be setup. Because it is a more restrictive spec, it can give an overall better view of what speeds a bow can really reach.

No matter what the specs of your bow, one thing will always remain constant: a SpyderWeb Target can take it.

Check out our products to find a SpyderWeb Target that fits your shooting needs. You can also read verified customer reviews or visit our Facebook page to learn more about SpyderWeb Targets and see what our customers are saying about us.

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The replacement target faces came in, easy to assemble and ready to use. Very happy with the end result

Spider web no speed limit

My bow speed is 450 ft a second and the target has no problem stopping my bolt. I can pull the bolt out easily with one hand.

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ST 18 XL

I am very pleased! I was suprised at it’s weight. I made a custom archery target stand. I don’t need anything to support the ST 18. It’s weight alone can take my high speed tenpoint Sieges pounding all day long! Arrows are very easy to pull out. High quality target! Joel

Great Product! Very Easy to remove arrows!

I had heard that this target was great, but was still surprised how easy my arrow came out after shooting it with my 330fps Matthew's compound bow. I almost thought the first arrow was hadn't made clean impact because it came out so easily! Cans wait to try it with my new Ravin crossbow that is coming!