What Is Brace Height On A Bow?

What Is Brace Height On A Bow?

There are so many things to consider regarding your bow. The specs include so many parameters, it’s hard to even know what each of them means. One of the more overlooked terms is the brace height. In this post, I’m going to explain what brace height is on a bow, and why it’s an important feature to know.

Brace height is the distance between the farthest part of the grip and the bowstring, when at rest. It’s an important feature for recurve and traditional archers. A lower brace height bow will release faster arrows but will be less forgiving to errors.

As you progress as an archer, you should start thinking about small details regarding your form, but also your gear. Understanding every single line in the specs of your bow is a good place to start.

I’m going to detail how to make the measurement, how to adjust it on the bow, and how it affects your shots. Let’s go.

Note: Some of the links on this page are affiliate links. This means that if you buy through one of them, I’ll earn a small commission, at no additional cost to you. It’s a great way to support the website.

How to measure brace height

Measuring brace height on a bow is pretty straightforward. You simply need to measure the distance between the pivot point, which is the farthest part of your grip, to the bowstring.

The pivot point is located on the riser of your bow, at the deepest part of the grip. It’s typically aligned with the pressure buttonholes in the riser.

When taking the measurement, you should make sure to have your measuring tool at 90 degrees angle with the bowstring. Taking the measurement at the wrong angle will result in a high reading.

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To avoid this issue, you can get a cheap measuring tool designed especially to make this reading. It’s called a bow square, which you can attach to the bowstring and easily make the measurement. I recommend getting the Easton T bow square (link to Amazon), as it’s fairly cheap and can get the job done.

If you don’t want to use a dedicated tool, you can always make the measurement with a simple meter, but make sure you’re doing it right. Maybe have someone look from a different angle to make sure you’re aligned correctly.

You can see a great example of how to measure the brace height on a bow in this short youtube video I’ve found:

Expect to get a reading between six to nine inches when taking this measurement. But to understand what it means, and how to adjust it to fit your needs, when should first understand how different brace heights affect your bow.

Does brace height really matter?

Your bow’s brace height can change the behavior of your arrows. The major things affected by it are arrow speed and forgiveness. Shorter brace height bows shoot faster arrows but are more affected by small errors made by the archer.

It’s a simple trade-off, so when choosing what brace height you want on your bow, think about what’s more important to you. It usually comes down to how you’re going to use the bow, but I’ll discuss that later in more detail.

Let’s dive deeper into the effects brace height has on your bow’s performance, and what causes them.

Arrow speed

The brace height on your bow has a major impact on the speed of the arrows you shoot. Shorter heights release much faster arrows than longer heights.

It’s fairly simple: lower brace heights mean that the arrow travels a longer distance with contact with the bowstring. This allows more energy to be transferred from the string to the arrow.

Of course, it’s a combination of brace height and draw weight. These two measurements have a direct impact on the speed of the arrows you shoot. A combination of high draw weight and low brace height results in fast arrows.

There’s a rule of thumb of how much you may increase the speed of your arrows by changing the brace height. It’s typically a 1-inch height difference for a 10 fps speed difference. This means that if you lower the height by one inch, the speed of your arrows will increase by about 10 fps.

Typically, arrow speed concerns bowhunters and 3D archers. So they will usually have a bow with a lower brace height to enjoy the additional arrow speed. Target archers don’t care as much about arrow speed.


Brace height also affects arrow forgiveness. The more forgiving a bow, the lower the effect of small errors made by the archer on the path of the arrow is.

These smalls errors can virtually be anything. For example, it can be your hand positioning, torque, or even leg positioning. Because every shot might be affected by different errors, they might cause worse groupings.

You can read about my 13 tips to increase your accuracy post to avoid some of them. Still, these errors introduce an element of randomness to your shots.

A bow with a high brace height means that it’s less affected by these errors. This results in overall increased consistency and accuracy.

The reason that lower brace height results in more forgiveness are pretty similar to what we’ve already discussed. The arrow leaves the bowstring earlier, so it has less time to be affected by the archer.

Experienced archers, which are more confident in their abilities and are less likely to make small errors, usually shoot lower brace height bows, to enjoy the added arrow speed. Beginner archers usually choose to go for a higher height.

What should my brace height be?

Based on what we’ve discussed so far, it should be pretty straightforward for you to have a rough estimate of what your brace height should be. Based on how you’re using the bow, you should know if you need to be on the higher or on the lower end.

If you’re just starting out with archery, definitely go for the higher-end brace height bows. Having a high-speed bow is cool on paper, but when trying to learn archery basics, you need to master precision first.

When you’re more experienced, and maybe looking to get into mobile style archery, or bowhunting, you can start considering a lower brace height.

What the higher end or lower end brace height of any specific bow is, depends on the bow itself. Most bows come with a specific recommended measurement, but you might want to change it to fit your needs.

Generally, any brace height below 6″ is considered low and “fast”, and anything above 7″ is considered high and “forgiving”. Brace heights between 6″ and 7″ are considered “balanced”.

As a rule of thumb, based on this Facebook pool from the “Archery Life” group, 6″-7″ brace height bows are most common for archers. 7″-8″ bows are a bit less common, and 5.5″-6″ bows are even rarer. Other brace heights are barely used by anyone.


So now you know what brace height you should aim to use on your bow. Let’s discuss now how to adjust it.

How to adjust brace height on a bow

Adjusting and tuning the brace height on a bow to fit your needs is pretty straightforward. To increase the brace height, you’ll add twists to the bowstring. To decrease it, you’ll undo twists.

It works this way: when you add twists, you make the string shorter. This, in turn, pulls the limbs of the bow closer together and farther arcs the bow, pushing the bowstring away from the riser.

So to increase the brace height on your bow, you’ll need to add twists to the string. The more twists you add, the higher the height will eventually be. To decrease it, you’ll need to undo some of the twists on the string.

Note that if you’re using a flemish string on your bow, you should be really careful when untwisting your string. These strings are actually made of smaller twisted strings, and you might ruin the string. Additionally, if your bowstring is old, consider replacing it before making this adjustment.

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If you’re rocking a recurve bow or a longbow, it’ll be a pretty simple process you can do yourself. You’ll just need a good bow stringer (which you should have anyway!) to destring your bow and do the adjustment. If you don’t have a bow stringer, I recommend getting Selway Limbsaver bow stringer (link to Amazon), which is great for the price.

If you’re shooting a compound bow, destringing your bow might be a more complex process, that involves a bow press. It will probably be easier to go to an archery shop to make the adjustment because the equipment you’ll need is pretty expensive.

Most compound bows actually have the ideal brace height of the bow listed in the specs. It’s the height that will have the best performance with the compound bow. The standard height on most compound bows is around 7 inches. So you might want to consider the brace height you intend to use before even getting a compound bow.

Wrapping up

Understanding the different factors and measurements that affect the behavior of your bow is really important. It’s one of the things that separate beginners and advanced archers.

Reading this post was another step in the right direction. I’m sure that you now understand what brace height is on a bow, how it affects the bow, and how to adjust it to fit your needs.

It’s now time to take action, make the necessary measurements and decide how to adjust your bow.