I’ve been a release shooter for over 20 years now and I never really thought about how a release could extend or otherwise affect your draw length, until now.
An archery release aid alone does not actually extend your draw length. What will change is your anchor point, if you wish to keep the same anchor point, then you will have to adjust the cams or modules on your bow to actually adjust the draw length.
An archery release does in fact cause some changes in how you shoot your bow, and the draw length could be one of them.
Archery Release Aids and Their Effect on Draw Length
Whether you’re going from shooting fingers to shooting a release, or just changing your release, it will affect some things about how you shoot.
Many people assume that what’s affected is the draw length, but that’s not entirely true. In fact, we should first define what draw length is.
Draw length is a measurement on the bow, measured from the nock point to the throat of the grip plus 1 ¾”. Many people commonly also refer to their draw length as a physical measurement of your body, and this will not change unless you grow (or shrink I suppose) or get new arms.
So with some definitions out of the way it’s a little bit easier to understand how a release affects your draw length. It doesn’t. That is to say, unless you choose to physically change the draw length of your bow.
Changing to a release, or changing the size or length of your release will change your anchor point, not your draw length.
Some people will actually change their draw length to try and keep the same or similar anchor point.
If you keep the exact same anchor point, a longer release will move the string closer to the riser (shortening the draw length) and a shorter release will move the string further from the riser (extending the draw length).
The largest difference will be if you are a finger shooter changing to a release. This will move your anchor point further back and/or shorten the draw length setting on your bow.
Wrist Release vs Handheld
Releases can be split into two basic categories, wrist strap and handheld. Within each type there are various styles, sizes, and lengths. All of these factors will affect where your anchor point will be and possible if your draw length needs to be adjusted.
You may wish to simply find a new comfortable anchor point and not move your draw length, but in some cases you might need to either extend or shorten your draw length to maintain form and comfort.
Of course if your goal is to extend your draw length, you’ll need to get a shorter release. If you currently shoot a wrist strap style release and are willing to try out some handheld releases, you may be able to gain some draw length that way.
Handheld releases tend to be shorter and if you maintain the same anchor point you’ll need to extend your draw length. You can see my top recommendations for both types and more on my Best Archery Releases page.
Why Would You Want to Extend Draw Length
Now that we’ve established how, if at all, your draw length changes. Why in the world would you want to extend your draw length anyway?
I personally wouldn’t, I’m 6’4” with a 31” draw length and large hands. Mine is plenty long already and certainly longer than the most commonly found draw lengths.
BUT, some people do wish to extend their draw length and the biggest reason is so they can get more speed and/or kinetic energy from their shot.
For a target shooter this would have minimal impact on performance, but many hunters try to push the limits of kinetic energy in order to hunt larger game or if they’re on the cusp of not having enough “oomph” for the type of animal they are hunting.
Kinetic energy is determined largely from the size of the arrow (overall weight), and the speed at which the arrow travels. The speed is affected by the draw weight and length of the bow. The exact formula for kinetic energy is:
Kinetic Energy (KE) = Weight X Velocity Squared /2 X Acceleration of Gravity or KE=(mv²)/450.240
Adding to your draw length will increase the velocity, and with a longer draw length you can use a longer, heavier arrow.
A rough estimate is that a 1” longer length of draw length is worth 10 fps of arrow speed. It doesn’t end there though, because you can also extend your arrow length which increases the weight.
So by lengthening your draw length an inch, you can increase both arrow speed and arrow weight which in turn increases the kinetic energy.
This is especially common for people shooting really short draw lengths, they just want to get a bit more speed and KE out of their bow.
However, be careful not to sacrifice comfort and proper form, just for a little kinetic energy. No matter how fast the arrow, it won’t matter if you miss.
How a Release Could Extend Your Draw Length
If you’re a finger shooter and you’re hoping to extend your draw length by switching to a release, you’re out of luck. If anything, it’s going to shorten it.
On the other hand, if already shoot a release and you really want to try and extend your draw length, you may be able to do it by changing your release style or length.
Let’s assume that you shoot a wrist release, you could in theory extend your draw length by shortening your release (if it’s adjustable) or by purchasing one that’s shorter. This will cause the need to pull the string back further in order to keep the same anchor point.
Similarly, changing to a handheld release might shorten things up and cause you to have to draw the string back further to keep your anchor.
You may have to try a few releases to find one that does exactly what you want it it.
Release Aids Change Anchor Points
Switching to a release aid, or changing the type or size that you use will cause some changes in how you shoot even if you don’t change your draw length.
The most prominent change will be to your anchor point. If you maintain your current draw length and proper form but change your release aid, your anchor point will move either forward or backward accordingly.
Generally speaking, wrist releases are longer and therefore will cause your hand to be further back at full draw and thus have a more rearward anchor point.
Many wrist releases have an adjustable length so you can play with this a little bit, however you want the trigger position to be comfortable was well.
Handheld releases are usually a bit shorter and put your hand closer to the string which would allow you to extend your draw length some if switching from a wrist release.
No matter what happens, if you change releases, chances are you’ll have to make at least a small change to how you anchor.
What about using a D-Loop?
D-loops are a whole nother story but I wanted to touch on them here because they too can affect your anchor and how you set up your draw length.
You could have a 28” draw length with a 2” d-loop, or a 29” draw length is a 1” d-loop. These are just examples pulled out of thin air, I probably wouldn’t advise a 2” d-loop, that’s pretty long.
The point here is that, this handy little accessory adds another layer of consideration to your anchor points and draw length setting.
If you shoot with a d-loop and you want to extend your draw length, you could eliminate it all together. I never shot a d-loop till just a couple years ago. In fact, I used a rope style wrist release instead and loved it. Shot like that for over a decade.
What Do You Do?
I hope I didn’t cause you more confusion than when you started, but just in case I did I wanted to recap.
Here’s how you would have to adjust your draw length based on keeping the same anchor point.
|Change to Release||Change to Bow’s Draw Length |
(Using Same Anchor Point)
|Fingers to Any Release||Shorten Draw Length|
|Longer Release||Shorten Draw Length|
|Shorter Release||Extend Draw Length|
|Longer D-Loop||Shorten Draw Length|
|Shorter D-Loop||Extend Draw Length|
|Add D-Loop from |
|Shorten Draw Length|
|Remove D-Loop||Extend Draw Length|