Selecting and Fitting Bows for Women


The archery industry has recently expanded into new territories, from hitting the big screen to reaching new hunting demographics. Most recently, female hunters have been the fastest growing demographic in bowhunting.

Many female hunting groups have been founded to support women and girls entering the sport. The hunting market itself has responded by designing hunting gear specifically for women, including fitted camouflage clothing, turkey and deer calls and bows, to name a few.

In the past, women either needed to step into their husband’s bow, that did not particularly fit, or use a youth bow that lacked efficiency and power. But the market has changed and archery bows are now designed specifically for a woman’s body. And women’s bodies are different, which demands something different. Every major bow manufacturer now has a line specifically for women, helping empower them as hunters. The options offered today allow for many choices on bow styles that have never been available before.

Smooth draw cycles make the shooting experience easier.
Smooth draw cycles make the shooting experience easier.

Melissa Bachman, hunter, TV personality and accomplished bowhunter, has become a role model to women across the country. Having spent countless hours in pursuit of game, she not only knows archery, but also knows how demanding the great outdoors can be on archery equipment. Her lighthearted attitude, passion for the sport and dedication to the outdoors attracts many to the bow.

Bachman has provided some of her archery insights into the qualities of women’s bows.

The terrain which archery hunters tackle to chase big game on varies as much as the animals that are pursued. Bachman has traveled the country in pursuit of big game, traversing every type of terrain imaginable. At times, those pursuits can stretch for weeks, making bow weight very important.

“I do a lot of spot and stalk hunting and your bow can get heavy after time,” Bachman said, “but I believe having a light bow is most important if you’re at full draw for an extended length of time. The heavier your bow is, the harder it will be to keep it steady at full draw if the animal is not cooperating.”

Most women have smaller frames than men, so a smaller-framed, lighter bow just makes sense. Today, getting a bow weighing less than 4 pounds with a petite riser is easier. Women should shoot something with a comfortable weight so they can enjoy the experience.

Shorter draw lengths allow many women to get away with a shorter axle to axle. Bachman, along with many other women, prefer a shorter axle to axle.

“I like to have a smaller and compact bow, especially for ground blind hunting, which I do a lot of,” Bachman says. “Of course, there are benefits to having a long axle to axle, but I’ve been very happy with a shorter bow.”

The shorter length doesn’t affect women the same way it does some tall men because women have shorter draw lengths. That alone is a big bowhunting benefit because of maneuverability. Unless a woman’s draw length is greater than 29 inches short, bows work well.

Spot and stalk with a bow is difficult, but a shorter bow is easier to carry around the field. Short bows make navigating around tree limbs, repositioning inside a blind or sneaking into archery range that much easier.

Draw weight
Can you really kill a deer with less than 40 pounds of draw weight? Absolutely. It’s more about placement than poundage. Christi Schreiber, competitive archer and avid Michigan bowhunter, has taken plenty of deer shooting a lower-poundage bow. When Schreiber talks bows, you can see the passion in her eyes. In a year, she puts more arrows into the perfect 10 ring than most will in a lifetime. Schreiber pulls 47 pounds, and during her 3D competitions, many other female competitors are shocked at how much she draws.

“Lots of women shoot low poundage,” Schreiber said. “I can honestly say I shot my first deer pulling 33 pounds and had a 24 1/2-inch draw.”

Lower-poundage bows mean that arrow placement and penetration becomes critical.

You can be among the first to get the latest info on where to go, what to use and how to use it!

This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

“I think as long as you put in the practice to make the ethical, clean shot within a range of 30 yards, penetration should be just fine,” Schreiber says.

Also, new bows have greater kinetic energy. For the same poundage, newer bows produce a higher arrow velocity than older bow designs. Many broadhead companies have lower kinetic energy, expandable broadheads, but Schreiber has decided to only use a fixed-blade broadhead for bowhunting because of the shorter draw length and low poundage.

Bachman currently has her bow set at 64 pounds. However, she has been shooting a bow since she was 5 years old.

“I am so lucky I’ve built up those muscles over time,” Bachman said. “I believe in only drawing a weight you are comfortable with.”

Smooth draw
Some of the best-built bows have an exceptional draw cycle. Drawing back the bow and the let down from a full draw should both be smooth. Whether you are a lady or new to archery, look for a smooth drawing design, which allows a hunter to draw higher pounds and have it feel like less of a draw weight. The medium valley at full draw also allows the let down to feel smooth. This becomes the most important factor when chasing wild game, and Bachman considers a smooth draw cycle a critical aspect.

Perfect fit
There is nothing like picking up a bow that feels just right; it becomes an extension of your arm. This is no different for women, but a woman who has a smaller frame needs a smaller bow.

Schreiber believes a bow that fits and is comfortable in the hand is the most important property of a bow.

Draw length is very important too, and Schreiber says she sees many women leaning back while at full draw. This can cause problems in shooting form and consistency downrange, and is all due to a draw length that is too long. She also prefers a petite grip, which will also help comfort, form, and accuracy, allowing the bow to fit into a woman’s hand comfortably.

Some entry-level bows have adjustable draw lengths and weight. These adjustable bows have been popular with women and others new to the sport, allowing them to start out with a lower draw weight and then build into higher draw weights without having to spend a lot of money to upgrade their bow.

Designed for ladies
For many years, hunting has been marketed and equipment design has been focused almost entirely toward men. That has changed, and it’s not that women didn’t previously participate in the sport, it just wasn’t advertised or marketed to them. It is a different market today, and many are finding excitement in the sport.

There are female celebrities and competitors using this weapon, and bows are now specifically designed for all women. Purchasing a bow that will be both accurate and enjoyable to shoot is very important. And a youth bow will not necessarily be efficient or accurate. Stay away from inferior bows with inefficient cams and strings. A high-performance women’s bow will grab and maintain the interest of a new hunter. Amateurs want some early success to stay interested in the sport, and these quality high-performance bows are available. Look for a bow with the same speed and performance as larger bows, but are smaller and more lightweight.

Not only can a bow be fitted for a women’s body, but accessories have also been designed to match. Arrow fletching, quivers, rests, wrist guards and other accessories are accented in colors women want.

“I really do like pink bows,” Bachman said. “I have one bow that is solid pink that I use for bowfishing. My regular bow is black with pink accessories.”

Bachman and Schreiber are an inspiration to many women and girls looking to become hunters. Their experience with the right equipment is invaluable. Again, Bachman’s bows need to have a smooth draw cycle, be lightweight and quiet. Schreiber’s most important features include a bow that fits, is comfortable in your hand and one that is affordable for the archer.

Women have smaller-framed bodies, therefore they require a smaller-framed bow. Select a bow that feels right, and one that is quiet, lightweight and easy to handle. Through this knowledge and preparation, success will eventually build upon itself with the right bow and you’ll be hooked on archery soon enough.