As a bowfisherman, you may be wondering what the perfect draw weight is for shooting fish. Bowfishing is unique from archery or hunting in that you also have to contend with the water slowing down your shots. However, having a higher draw weight helps to prevent this so that you can shoot your fish.
How much draw weight do you need for bowfishing? Most experienced bowfisherman will recommend that you shoot with a draw weight of between 40 to 50 pounds. Most like myself have found that the 50-pound draw weight tends to work the best when bowfishing. At the lowest, you would want a 40-pound draw weight.
State Regulations on Draw Weight
Getting the right draw weight is also important because some states have bowfishing regulations. For example, California has mandated that the draw weight for bowfishing is 40 pounds and higher. You should check your local and state regulations to make sure that you remain compliant with the minimum draw weight if there is one.
Why is 50-pound Draw Weight Better?
A 50-pound draw weight gives you a happy medium between having too much draw weight that will shoot and get stuck deep in the mud and not having enough power. In addition, you can shoot more shots in this way without feeling tired from the shots. With bowfishing, you can expect that you might shoot up to 100 times in a single night, and when you pull back on a 70-pound draw weight bow, this wears on you after a while.
A 50-pound draw weight also makes it easier for you to penetrate the fish more easily while still not sacrificing anything. The higher the draw weight, the deeper into the water that you can shoot.
When 35 to 40-pound Draw Weight Makes More Sense
You will want a lighter draw weight in particular if you plan to shoot in an area with a rocky river or lake bottom. In those cases, having a lighter draw weight can be beneficial because of how you don’t want to shoot an arrow into rocks at a higher draw weight. It will damage your arrows.
Conditions Matter: Circumstances Change
The river and weather conditions and the types of fish that you shoot will have an impact on what you should choose. For example, shooting a carp or smaller gar near the surface doesn’t necessarily require you to have a greater draw weight because you will still achieve penetration. However, let’s say that you want to catch 70-pound buffalo down at 5 feet of water. You don’t want the arrow to not penetrate the water, and you want it to hit the fish as well. In those cases, you might want a minimum of 60-pound, but it always comes down to the circumstances. The Cajun Bowfishing Shorerunner is a good choice because of how it is a composite bow, and draw weight is easy with it (find the Amazon link here).
How to Know if You Have Too Heavy of a Draw Weight
With some shots, you may be required to hold for extended periods of time and wait for the right opportunity to shoot. If you start to feel tired at a higher draw weight, you may want to lower the draw weight. 40 to 50 pounds offers you all that you need without wearing you out at the end of the day. The most obvious sign that a bowfisherman has drawn too much weight comes from how he will shake as he draws back on the bow. If you can’t hold back the bow for even a few seconds without shaking, it means that you have too much draw weight on it.
Understand the Difference between Compound Bows and Recurve Bows
Draw weight plays a big role in how the bow shoots, but compound bows will handle draw weight differently than recurve bows. With a recurve bow, when you draw it back, 50 pounds means that you will be holding back on 50 pounds. Meanwhile, if you draw a compound bow and you have a 70-pound draw weight with 75 percent let-off, you will only be holding 18 pounds at full draw. Some people prefer compound bows for this reason, but recurve bows have the advantage of allowing you to shoot faster.
- Easier on the draw weight.
- Highly accurate shots taken.
- Quieter than what you get with other bows.
- More technologically advanced weapon.
- Powerful force to reckon with.
- Difficult to repair the bow.
- More expensive than recurve bows.
- More moving parts and more breakdowns.
- Lower cost to the bow.
- The shooting style is simple.
- Made from natural materials.
- Not complicated to shoot.
- You can maintain it easily.
- You can choose arrows faster with it.
- Take more skill accuracy
- Less powerful in many cases.
- You need to be an expert for difficult shots.
How to Set the Draw Weight on a Compound Bow
To set the draw weight, you will first have to figure out limb bolts are located. Normally, they will be located in the center of the bow. These are knobs on your bow, and you can change your draw weight on the bow from here. To begin, you will untighten the screws for limb locking that keep the bolts for the draw weight secured. Depending on the bow, you will either need a screwdriver or an Allen wrench.
Next, you will loosen or tighten the screws based on the desired draw weight. For the Allen wrench, you will turn the screw clockwise if you want a higher draw weight. You will turn the Allen wrench counterclockwise if you want less draw weight. As you loosen or tighten the screws, remember you whatever you do to one of the limb bolts, you have to do to the other. You may want to check with your owner’s manual, but compound bows will have one rotation translate as 1.5 pounds of weight.
Don’t Forget: You need to loosen or tighten the draw weight on both sides.
Finally, you will test the draw weight. You secure the screws and pull the bowstring back as a way of testing the draw weight. As you pull back on it, you shouldn’t feel anything uneven about the draw weight. In bowfishing, high poundage draw weight isn’t always good. It can be detrimental as you shoot the arrow into a rocky river bed and damage the arrow, or the arrow gets trapped in the mud. At the end of the day, you want to choose a draw weight that feels comfortable, but it still gets the job done. You may also want to work with a professional to help you get the perfect draw weight for your bow.
If you’d like to get started in bowfishing but don’t have a bowfishing bow, check out the article that I wrote here on the best bowfishing bows.
How much draw weight is need for my child to go bowfishing? As long as your child can pull back 15 pounds of draw weight, she can go bowfishing.
What’s the minimum poundage for bowfishing carp? For bowfishing carp, you will want anywhere between 40 pounds to 50 pounds. However, someone who feels like that is too much could probably get away with shooting 30 to 35-pound draw weight.
What is the range of draw weight for bows? The draw weight of bows can range anywhere from 30 pounds up to 80 pounds, but 80 or even 70 pounds will be overkill when it comes to bowfishing. You will spear the arrow through the fish, and it will get stuck deep in the mud, which is not ideal for bowfishing because you might see another fish in that time and want to shoot.