Archery is a fun choice for hunters, sportsmen and hobbyists alike, giving you the tools to hone your body while still being able to kill things silently at range. It uses a very specific set of muscles and a very specific type of motion.
If you’re considering taking up archery, here are some exercises that you should consider adding to your regular workout schedule to help you improve both your overall fitness and your archery skills.
1. One and Two-Arm Dumbbell Exercises
Your arms aren’t the only muscles you need to consider when you’re trying to work on improving your archery. You should also include exercises that target your back and shoulder muscles. These include:
- One-arm dumbbell rows — Put one knee on a bench or other flat surface. Keep the dumbbell in the opposite arm and, leaning over and bracing with your other hand on the bench, draw the dumbbell up to your chest. Repeat for your chosen reps, then switch sides.
- Two-arm dumbbell shrugs — Shrug with a dumbbell in each hand. It sounds simple but it helps to target and strengthen your trapezius muscle.
You can also accomplish back exercises on various different types of equipment at the gym, but if all you have is a couple of dumbbells at home, that’s really all you need.
2. Lateral Lifts
Now we’ll start getting into the shoulders. Our favorite exercise for strengthening your shoulders for archery is the lateral lift. All you need is a dumbbell because you’re going to be doing these one arm at a time. Hold the dumbbell in one hand and stabilize yourself against a table or bench with the other. Slowly lift the dumbbell until your arm is perpendicular to the floor. Hold for a moment, and slowly lower back down. Complete your reps and then switch sides.
Pushups are a fantastic bodyweight exercise for your arms as well as your shoulders and chest, making them the perfect choice for archers.
Start on the floor and slowly lift yourself up until you are in a plank pose with just your palms and the tips of your toes are the only things touching the floor. Then lower yourself as far as possible, until your chest nearly reaches the floor, before pushing back up into your plank pose again. If this is a hard place to start, consider starting with knee-pushups — where your knees touch the floor and help support your weight — or various types of inclined pushups until you can work up to regular reps.
Pull-ups are another exercise that is simple to learn and hard to master. In theory, all you need to do is hang from a bar by your hands and then, using the strength of your arms, chest and shoulders, lift yourself until your chin is above the bar.
Repeat as many times as you can — until you’ve reached your rep count or until failure, depending on what is in your workout plan. If you can’t complete a pull-up yet, start with dead hangs where you hang from the bar for as long as you can. You can also use assisted pullup machines at the gym, or hang some assistance bands from your pullup bar at home.
Strength training is important, but don’t ignore the importance of cardio as well. These exercises help to improve your cardiovascular health as well as improve stamina. Skills like running can also be useful if you’re going to use your archery skills for hunting or survival, though they aren’t as necessary if you’re just shooting for target practice.
Others, like swimming, can act as a low-impact full-body workout, improving cardiovascular health while putting your muscles through their paces.
Rowing is another exercise that can double as both a cardio and strength workout. The movements necessary for rowing can mimic the feeling of drawing a bow, though you’ll be doing it with two hands instead of one.
For the cardio side of things, just pick up the pace. It’s a popular choice for CrossFit workouts because it gets the heart pumping but is easy to hop on and off so you can switch between exercises smoothly.
Don’t Skip Your Workout Days
Archery is a fantastic workout in itself, but if you’re planning on using it for hunting or honing it as a survival skill, don’t skip your trips to the gym. Strengthening the muscles that you use to draw your bow will make it easier to hit your target every time.