How Do I Determine The Correct Brace Height?

Traditional ArcheryBy Doug Besherse

How Do I Determine The Correct Brace Height

A common question I get is concerning brace height. The question goes something like I have a 1965 X model bow,

What is the correct brace height?

Brace height is basically just the sweet spot the limbs need to be at when the bow is at the bottom of its a power stroke. Another way to describe “is the distance from the string to a certain point on the bow when the bow is strung.”

There can be some confusion on where exactly the point is that you measure to. It is generally accepted that it is the distance from the string to the deepest part of the bow grip and so that is the method I use.

A bow needs proper brace height to function correctly. Without it the bow’s limbs will have instability. This causes bow noise, vibration and sometimes excess limb stress.

Proper brace height is determined by starting out in a given range and adjusting the brace height until you find the sweet spot. Brace height ranges are suggested by the bow’s maker and should be followed.

  • An example of brace height range is 7.5″ to 8.0″.
  • I start at the bottom of the range and adjust up until the quietest point is found or where the bow has the least vibration.
  • Generally the same spot will have both the least vibration and the least noise. This spot is the optimum brace height.

I like to shoot a bow at this optimum brace height but it does not have to be shot at this spot. I use this as the starting point at which I tune a bow and arrow set up. I try everything I can to get the arrow to fly right without adjusting the brace height. When all else fails I will adjust the brace height to try and get the arrows to fly correctly. I always stay within the brace height range while doing this. This is covered more in depth in my tuning articles.

I get lots of questions from people who have an older bow or a bow who’s maker is now out of business. With these bows, it is difficult or impossible to get the suggested brace height range.

On bows such as this I go by the way the bow looks. When a bow doesn’t have the proper brace height it doesn’t “look” right. If you look at the pictures below you will see what I am talking about.

Incorrect brace height
Not enough contact on limb tip

Another way I determine the correct brace height range on a recurve is by the amount of bowstring contact at the limb tips.

  • If it looks like there is too much contact it is too low.
  • If there is not enough contact or the string is coming out of the middle groove on the belly of the limb the brace height is too high.

There is also another thing that I call “generic brace height range”. While not absolute this is pretty much a universal code I have that works on over 90% of the bows out there.

Here is my generic brace height “manual”

  • Straight limb self bow 6.0″ – 6.5″
  • Straight limb or reflex laminated longbow 6.25″ – 6.75″
  • Reflex – deflex longbow 6.5″ – 7.0″
  • Recurve self bow 6.5″ – 7.0″
  • Hybrid Long Bow 7.25″ – 7.75″
  • 50’s Style Recurve 6.75″ – 7.25″
  • Modern Hunting Recurve 7.5″ – 8.0″
  • Modern Target Recurve 64″ or longer 8.0″ – 8.5″

I hope this has helped you in your quest to be a better archer/bowhunter. I ask that you tell your friends about me and It will be helpful to me and your friends. Good Luck and Good Huntin’

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