Are Longer Bows More Accurate?

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Every archer wishes to own the most accurate bow possible, as this, in theory, would likely make one more efficient in their endeavors, whether hunting or practicing target archery.

However, when asked to describe what makes a particular bow “accurate” many archers find themselves at a loss to provide a rational answer.

One of the most commonly cited of all attributes that some archers feel increases a bow’s accuracy is its overall axle-to-axle length.

Simply put, archers often express the notion that longer bows tend to be more accurate than bows of a shorter axle-to-axle length.

Accurate Vs. Forgiving

In the sport of archery, the terms accurate and forgiving are often used interchangeably. However, this might not be the most accurate way to envision things.

Rather than these terms serving as synonyms to one another, it would probably be more fitting to say that ample forgiveness is a potential attribute of an accurate bow.

Simply put, longer bows tend to be more forgiving, for a number of practical reasons.

This increased level of forgiveness minimizes the effects of imperfect form, often allowing an archer to shoot slightly more accurately than they would with a bow of a shorter overall axle-to-axle length.

This, of course, is not to say that a bow with a relatively short axle-to-axle length cannot be shot accurately, as quite the opposite is true.

However, some archers, especially those who are new to the sport might find themselves better able to hit their target as intended, with a bow that is of a somewhat longer configuration.

Factors At Play

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There are several factors at play that cause a longer axle-to-axle bow to be more forgiving, and thereby more accurate as a result.

The first of these factors centers around the extensions of a bow’s overall mass away from the center point of its vertical axis.

This is in stark contrast to shorter bows that retain the entirety of their overall mass within a much tighter area.

Generally speaking, the longer a bow, the more stable it is during the shot cycle. This enhanced stability minimizes unintentional movement that would otherwise threaten to derail one’s shot opportunity.

read.. are longer bows more forgiving

This point is especially important for those who are new to the sport of archery to keep in mind.

Yet another factor worth keeping in mind is a bow’s brace height. The greater a bow’s brace height, the more forgiving it is to shoot.

This stems from the fact that an arrow remains affixed to a bow’s string for a shorter period of time during the shot cycle when a bow features a taller brace height.

As a result, a smaller period of time is presented in which marginal form or ill-advised movements can negatively impact a shot.

Many bows of a longer overall axle-to-axle length feature above-average brace heights, making them more forgiving to shoot, in many cases, than shorter compound bows.

For this reason, one seeking the most accurate bow possible should not only consider a bow’s overall length but total brace height as well.

Can A Bow Be Too Long?

picture of a compound bow showing axle to axle length

When determining the proper length of a bow to purchase, one must consider if there is an upper extreme worthy of considering.

In the world of target archery, there is little to worry about in terms of a bow being “too long”. Many target archers shoot rather lengthy bows, with no perceivable issues worthy of intervention.

However, those intending to bowhunt might be better suited to purchasing a bow of 35 inches in length or under.

Anything beyond this length quickly becomes rather cumbersome to move and manipulate in a hunting scenario, especially when hunting out of a blind or treestand.

Under such circumstances, it is not hard to imagine a shot going awry if one of a bow’s limbs were to contact the railing of a treestand, during a shot attempt.

Luckily, most of today’s compound bows measure 35 inches axle-to-axle or under, making it highly unlikely that a hunter will ever find themselves in a situation where excessive bow length ever becomes an issue.

This means that one can opt for the purchase of a longer compound bow, by today’s standards, without having to compromise, in terms of maneuverability

The Bottom Line

In general, longer axle-to-axle bows do tend to be more accurate than their shorter counterparts, due in large part to their innate stability and optimal forgiveness.

As a result, many archers are able to shoot a longer bow with a higher degree of accuracy than a shorter bow, as the latter tends to reflect even the most minor of inadequacies in form when shot.

This, however, is not to say that a shorter axle-to-axle draw-length bow cannot be shot accurately. Even extremely compact bows can be shot to a high degree of accuracy, with ample practice and persistence.

Therefore, a particular bow should not be overlooked, solely due to its axle-to-axle measurements, as such a mindset has little merit when choosing the ideal bow.

Perhaps the best practical application of this knowledge comes when assisting a new archer with selecting his or her first bow.

A longer bow will prevent a new archer from becoming as frustrated as they otherwise would, while still attempting to master their form. This benefit alone can come as a major advantage.


Josh is an avid hunter of over twenty years and strategically manages several properties. Josh is also the Branch President for his local chapter of QDMA (Quality Deer Management Association).

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