Today’s guest blogger is Joouna from Hungary. She is the mastermind behind the fabulous blog, In Shadows. Her blog offers tons of advice on archery, such as improving your accuracy, speed shooting techniques and competition tips. Today, Joouna will show you a few exercises to improve archery skills!
In order to shoot the best scores possible, archers should make sure to have good physical conditioning. Knowledge of technique, concentration and good equipment are all important, but in order to convert these factors into good scores, the body needs to be able to put them into motion. Archery is a sport, after all, and a really awesome sport, too, because it requires a strong cooperation between mental and physical skill.
So what is a good physical conditioning for archery, and how do we attain it?
First of all, there is strength.
This is perhaps the most obvious one. Strength is needed to draw a bow. The stronger bow you can draw, the faster the arrow will fly. This increases the range and also allows for more accuracy and precision.
What is not so obvious is where that strength is needed! Many tend to think it is all arm muscles. However, I have seen beginners with ginormous arm muscles struggle with the 22lbs beginner’s club bow. Drawing a bow actually involves many upper body muscles including the arms, shoulders, back and chest. If we want a steady position to go with it, then archery becomes a whole-body exercise. All the muscles involved need to be strong enough for a steady position during the whole shot process so that there is no shaking, too early releasing, or not enough support.
In order to improve overall strength, the best method is to plan a routine of strength exercises that is not too long or strenuous, but can be repeated very often, like once or twice a day (every morning, or every evening, or whenever is most convenient). There is no need for expensive gym subscriptions in case that thought is deterring. Exercises that make use of your own body weight are very effective, require no additional equipment, and can be performed anywhere as long is there is enough space to move around a little bit.
The essential exercise for basically all archery muscles is doing pushups. Just make sure to do them correctly and avoid back injury! The internet is rife with tutorials, so look into it in case of any doubt. Since pushups are very dynamic, they can be complemented with plank exercises. The easiest one is basically the starting position for a pushup, just staying still. If that is too easy, try with only one hand. This exercise is good to practice staying in a steady position while supporting a load. Apart from these essentials, other things like situps and squats can be added to make sure to enhance stability throughout the whole body.
Then comes flexibility.
Flexibility is extremely important in order to be able to shoot with a good form, and also to avoid injury. For archers, a flexible back and shoulders are important. If there is not enough flexibility, then there may be too much stiffness to align the muscles to support the bow in the most effective way. There is also a higher risk of pulling muscles.
Therefore we can add some stretching into that daily exercise. A special recommendation of mine is to do some yoga! Some very basic exercises such as cat position and snake position are great for the back. Another good stretch is to try to do “praying hands,” but backwards behind your back. You can also reach backwards with both hands, one from above and the other from below the shoulders, and try to touch the hands.
To combine strength and flexibility, as well as improve your shooting position, you can get a sports band for not too much money, with which the drawing motion as well as other similar motions can be practiced.
Although archery is not a very stamina-intensive sport, it is still useful to train a good stamina. A good stamina condition results in lower heart and breath rates, which mean less disturbance in the shooting technique by the body’s physical reaction to competition pressure. Besides, it is just healthy to run, especially outside with fresh air.
Running outside is one of the simplest exercises, and all it requires is some decent shoes. If you are new to regular running then don’t set ambitious goals immediately. Instead, just run as long as it is comfortable on the first time. Then the next time increase the distance just a little bit. There is no need to force anything, nor is there a need to try and “be fast.” Endurance is not about speed but the ability, patience, and will to keep going for a long time.
The most important thing is to keep motivated! Remember, it’s for the worthy cause of improving archery form. :3
Happy shooting to all archers + lots of kitty hugs,
If you liked this guest post, please pay a visit to Joouna’s blog at Blog In Shadows!