Everything You Need To Know About Brace Height

Jan 4, 2021Bow Tuning and Repair

Archery has been around for a very long time. In that time, we’ve refined what it takes to shoot with accuracy. Of all the many factors that go into shooting accurately, brace height is one of the most important. The average archer might not even know what this is. If that is the case, they likely won’t know how to measure or adjust the brace height on their bow either.

So what exactly is a bow’s brace height? And why is it so important? Here you will find everything you need to know about brace height so you can make informed decisions on what works best for you.

What is Brace Height?

The brace height of a bow is a measurement of the distance between its string and the grip. The grip on a bow is the part you hold in your non-dominant hand. This measurement can vary greatly depending on the archer and the particular bow. In general, this measurement can be anywhere from five all the way up to ten inches.

Brace height generally isn’t considered one of the essential factors in a bow’s performance. However, a good brace height can mean the difference between accuracy and missing the shot. It is a good idea to know your specific brace height so you know what to expect when you’re shooting.

Measuring brace height is done with a tool called a T-square or bow square. A T-square is similar to a ruler and is used to set your nock point, measure tiller, and brace height among others. So how does brace height affect your shooting?

How Brace Height Affects Arrow Speed

The brace height of a bow will affect two significant areas, the first being speed. In general, a bow with a shorter brace height will shoot much faster. This is because the distance between the string and grip is smaller, meaning the arrow stays on the string longer. The longer the arrow is on the string, the more time it has to build up speed. The shorter the brace height, the faster the arrow will go.

As soon as an arrow is released from the bowstring, it will start to slow down. The longer it stays on the string, the more energy it has in flight. Bows with higher speed will generally have a brace height around seven inches or less. Meanwhile, bows with longer brace heights, like nine inches, will be nowhere near as fast. This is because the arrow comes off of the string much sooner. This reduction in time does not give the arrow time to build up as much speed and energy.

In general, for every inch of brace height you add, you lose roughly 10 feet per second of speed. This is not always the case, however. Speed is usually most important to shooters who hunt or shoot 3D archery. This is why many hunters opt for a shorter brace height and faster speed. Animals may spook at the release of a bow and a faster arrow allows less time for reaction.

Bows with a shorter brace height also tend to be louder. This is due to higher energy transfer and increased vibration throughout the bow. Bows with a longer brace height produce less energy and are much quieter. If arrow speed is important to you, brace height is something you should pay close attention to.

How Brace Height Affects Accuracy

In addition to speed, brace height also affects accuracy. Experienced archers often refer to this as “forgiveness.” A bow with more forgiveness will be easier to shoot and result in improved accuracy. This is accomplished through compensation. A bow with a longer brace height compensates for minor mistakes the archer makes upon release. With more forgiveness, you can achieve higher levels of accuracy, even with subpar form and technique.

However, this does not mean you will automatically be a great archer while shooting a higher brace height. That said, it’s great for beginners who are still learning all the proper techniques. The longer the brace height, the sooner an arrow leaves the string. The longer an arrow stays on the string, the higher possibility for errors to occur. So the faster an arrow can leave the string, the less time there is for errors to occur.

While on the string, an arrow can absorb unwanted movements made by the shooter. This can negatively impact arrow flight and accuracy. Something as simple as too much grip or a flinch can impact accuracy. A longer brace height also decreases the chance of the bowstring accidentally slapping your forearm upon release. This can be very painful and your shot will definitely be affected.

Bow Brace Heights

Most bows sold today have a standard brace height that’s determined by the manufacturer. Every different type of bow will vary in brace height due to its design and shape. However, these brace heights for compounds, recurves, and longbows are all similar and can usually be adjusted. Let’s go over a few different types of bows and what kind of brace heights you can expect to see.

Longbow Brace Height

Longbows are unique because you can adjust brace height by simply twisting or untwisting your bowstring. Brace heights for longbows are generally never shorter than six inches, with most being around seven inches. For longbows that are 50 to 60 inches in length, the brace height will be 7 to 8 inches. For bows over 60 inches, the brace height will usually be 8 inches and longer. This, of course, can vary from bow to bow.

Recurve Bow Brace Height

Recurve bows are very similar to longbows when it comes to brace height. They are adjusted in the same manner, by simply twisting and untwisting the bowstring. In general, 62 and 64-inch bows will have a 7 ½ to 8 ½ inch brace height. 66 to 68-inch bows will be 8 to 9 inches of brace height, and 70 to 72-inch bows will be 8 ½ to 9 ½ inches. Again, these are general numbers and will vary from manufacturer to manufacturer.

Compound Bow Brace Height

Compound bows are a little different when compared to traditional bows. Their brace heights generally shouldn’t be adjusted. It is possible to adjust the brace height, but the manufacturers settings are generally best.

Target shooters looking for long distance precision will prefer a certain brace height. This will usually be at least 7, 8 or even 9-inch heights for improved accuracy. Hunting bows or those used for 3D target shooting, where arrow speed is much more important, will use brace heights of 5 to 7 inches. A lot of care is taken into getting the brace heights on compound bows just right. There are usually many different brace height options on the same models of compound bows.

How to Adjust Your Brace Height

If you need to adjust the brace height on your bow, you might just be in luck. This is good news if you are not happy with your bow’s factory set brace height. As we mentioned, the brace height can be changed by twisting a bowstring while it is unstrung from the bow. It’s also possible to use a shorter or longer string, depending on what you’re trying to accomplish.

When you twist the string, it will shorten and pull the bow’s limbs more. This increases the distance between the body of the bow and the bowstring. By adding or taking away twists, you can manipulate your bow’s brace height until you get the desired distance. This will pull the bow’s limbs further down and add more distance in between the bow’s riser and string. To decrease the brace height, you will simply need to undo some of these twists in the string.

There are a few things that are available to help you with this task as well. Something simple like a bow stringer can help you with a recurve or longbow. These can be picked up online or at any general archery shop. For compound bows, you will most likely need to take your bow into a shop to get it properly worked on. They will also be able to help you set your bow up for optimal performance.

Finding the Right Brace Height for You

The right brace height will ultimately come down to personal preference. There are many different things to consider. Your intended use of your bow will also help you decide on brace height. Your personal skill level and confidence will also play a large part in figuring out the right brace height. While many new archers like the idea of lots of speed, it may not be worth giving up the benefit of forgiveness and accuracy.

Take care to research and study the process of adjusting your bow’s brace height before getting started. Before twisting any strings, you should know what type of string you have. With Flemish strings, you need to be careful when untwisting them as they can easily be undone. This will ruin your string if you do not do it properly. These strings can also stretch quite a bit, so it is always recommended to let a bow sit for a period of time before actually shooting it. Many archers have two strings with one ready as a spare. If one string happens to snap or is cut while manipulating it, you have another ready to go.

My best advice to beginners is to use the brace height set by the manufacturer. Once you learn the basics and proper archery form, you can then begin to play around with different brace heights and find what works best for you. Different bows will perform best at different brace heights, so it is always a good idea to experiment. You never know what might work best for you until you try it out.


As you can see, there is more to brace height than one might realize. With the proper brace height, you can manipulate your bow to your perfect preferences and achieve more speed or accuracy. While many archers don’t give much thought to brace height, it’s essential to your overall accuracy. By playing around with your brace height, you will be amazed at the difference it can make in your shooting.

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1 Comment

  1. Mark

    Need to learn about compound bows


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