Short vs Long D-Loop (Tried and tested)

The most common question that I get asked when I am at a competition is ‘What’s the length of that D-Loop?’ or ‘Why is that D-Loop so long?’. I have played around with all kinds of D-loop lengths to find what works best for me.

Short vs. log D loop? The length of a D-Loop affects performance, as it directly influences the following shooting elements.

  • Hand Position
  • Head Position
  • Arm Position
  • Reference Points

In this post, you’ll learn how the length of a D-loop affects the shot and how I figured out what was best for me. Let’s see whether we can find what works for you. I like a longer D-Loop, but you may be different.

Draw Length

From the list above, you’ll see there is no title called draw length. Your D-Loop does not change your draw length.

A lot of guys sometimes say my draw length is too short and don’t have a bow press, so they put a long D-Loop on their string, and they think they have fixed their draw length issue.

Your draw length is exactly the same as before. You now just have a longer D-Loop. All the length of the D-Loop does is change where your hand is on your face. With that out of the way, let’s get into it.

Hand Position

This is the number one difference you are going to feel when you change your D-Loop length. Most archers will have their D-Loops short, so they can put their knuckles between their jawline. And that position is an excellent place to start.

Don’t get me wrong, just because I say start doesn’t mean it’s only for beginners. In fact, the majority of archers around the globe run a short D-Loop for that hand position. So then, what about the opposite to that. A long D-Loop. Not too many archers use a long D-Loop. However, that doesn’t mean that they are not good or correct.

What I aim to achieve when tying and making my D-Loop is to have my fingers between my jawline but then to have my knuckles behind my jawline swell.

Here’s the big thing for me. The way my hand and head are shaped is what works for me. I’m not saying it won’t work for you, but if you have a short D-Loop and are very happy with it, I would advise you to stick with what you are most comfortable with. But if you are struggling to get your anchor the same 100% of the time, maybe give it a shot.

Head Position

This is one of those things that you don’t really think about. It’s more of a subconscious effort. Realistically, the further back your hand is, i.e., the longer your D-Loop is, the more tilted back your head will be. If your hand is further down, i.e., shorter D-Loop, the more straight your head will be.

Your D-Loop won’t define your head position. You can have a short D-Loop and still have your head tilted back slightly. That’s what most archers are prone to. I tilt my head slightly further back as I run a longer D-Loop. There’s no real right or wrong way to tilt your head.

Stephan Hansen shoots with his head tilted back despite not using a very long D-Loop, whereas Steve Anderson keeps his head up quite straight with a short D-Loop.

Making the jump from a short to a long D-Loop or vice versa, you should definitely pay attention to your head position. I term of what you should exactly do. I would say to do whatever feels the most natural/comfortable because, ultimately, that is what matters.

If you don’t like tilting your head back, but you want a long D-Loop, then keep your head straight. Just watch where your head position naturally lands when you come to anchor.

Arm Position

This is very dependent on how you shoot. For me, it makes a slight difference. Let’s use me as an example. When I draw back the bow and come to anchor, I throw my arm behind me.

However, what I have found is that when shooting with a smaller D-Loop, you have just a little less room to put your elbow back. It’s got to do with where your knuckles are. If they are on your jawline, you won’t have as much room, but if they are behind your jawline, you will.

There isn’t a massive difference between the two. It’s not the first thing you would notice. But there is a difference. I like to have my elbow behind me, and having a longer D-Loop helps me achieve that while also being comfortable.

However, if you shoot with your elbow, as in the picture above, this won’t affect you. But in my experience, shooting with your elbow out can cause some inconsistencies.

I could never get the angle of where my elbow needed to be the same every time. I stopped putting there altogether. I find it’s easier if you put your elbow behind you, and I would encourage you to do this.

Reference Points

I always like to say that there are four main reference points an archer can have. But first, let me explain what a reference point is. A reference point is a place on your face that touches your string in the same place every time or simply an anchor.

The four reference points that I use are

  1. Peep Sight – to make sure I’m not raising or lowering my head. To have my peep at just the right height so I can tilt my head slightly and then the peep is at eye level.
  2. String touching your nose. You can have the string touch the tip of your nose, or the side of your nose, whatever feels the most repeatable for you.
  3. String touching the corner of your lips. Number 2 and 3 go hand in hand if you can get the string to your nose every time, then you can get it to the corner of your lips as well.
  4. Your hand. We’ve already talked about the different hand positions for the different D-Loop lengths, but the aim is to put your knuckles between your jawline.

Now that you know all of the reference points, there’s one common thing I want you to note about all of them. They all have something to do with your face. When you increase or decrease the length of your D-Loop, your face position can move slightly.

If this happens, then your reference points may also slightly move. You need to be aware of this and watch out for it.

Related questions

How many knots should be on my knocking point? You should have four loops or knots on your bottom knock point and two on the top.

You may find the following posts useful:

Why does my D-loop keep moving?

How to fix peep rotation?

How to adjust draw length on PSE?

Compound bow string strand count

Rogan Cunningham

Rogan Cunningham is an archer and writer for He's a proud member of the National Archery Squad. He writes about his archery training, shooting, and traveling with the national archery team, and he also reviews all kinds of archery kit. He only writes about archery, what can I tell you?..... He's an Archer!

Recent Posts