Archery requires muscular strength to perform good archery techniques and maximize better control when using the bow. Strength is also needed when using bows with heavier draw weights since a heavier draw weight means more force is required to draw a bow successfully and properly.
Having strong muscles will allow you to properly draw and hold the bow with a steady form while executing accurate and consistent shots. It will also allow you to repetitively draw your bow without much stress and fatigue on your body during target shooting, bowhunting, or competition.
Aside from muscle strength, core strength is also necessary as it provides support and stability to the body when performing proper posture and shooting form.
With continuous practice and application of techniques, archery can make you stronger as it builds up the muscle groups used in your body as you hold and draw the bow. It can also strengthen your upper body and core muscles.
What muscles are important for archery?
Several muscles are utilized in archery, and identifying these muscles is essential because it will help you build and condition them properly for better performance during archery. It will also help prevent injuries and errors when executing archery techniques.
Here are the important muscles in archery.
The upper body, which includes the torso and arms, is an important body part used in archery. When shooting, one arm draws the bowstring and arrow while the other arm stabilizes the bow. The muscles frequently used by the upper body are Levator Scapulae, Trapezius, Deltoids, Latissimus Dorsi, Rhomboids, Triceps, and Rotator Cuffs.
- Levator Scapulae
- Latissimus Dorsi
- Rotator Cuff
The levator scapulae, which is located in the upper back, connects the upper limb to the spine. It works with the rhomboids and trapezius to create back tension, which is the contraction of both shoulder blades or scapulas towards the spine or up towards the neck area.
These back muscles are used to maintain the bow at full draw as you aim and release it during archery for longer periods.
To identify back tension, you can practice by pulling your elbow back at a full-draw position. Once your shoulder blade is near your spine, you will feel that contraction, which is the back tension.
Back tension is important in archery because it provides accurate and efficient shots and prevents injuries.
The trapezius is a broad back muscle of the upper body that looks like a trapezoid. It covers the scapulas or shoulder blades and helps rotate and stabilize them.
The deltoid is the central muscle of the shoulder and is used for rotating the arm. It consists of the anterior, middle, and posterior deltoid muscles.
The anterior deltoid is the muscle responsible for raising the arm forward and lifting the bow before the draw, while the middle deltoid keeps the bow straight and steady at full draw. The posterior deltoid is the main muscle responsible for drawing the bowstring back.
The latissimus dorsi, also known as lats, is a large muscle that makes up the span of the back and lies below the trapezius. Its purpose is to support your shoulder while drawing the bowstring and stabilize the bow at full draw.
The rhomboid is comprised of the major and minor muscles, which is essential in the upper body movement, and stability of the shoulder.
The triceps, also known as the triceps brachii (three-headed muscle of the arm in Latin), is a large muscle located on the back of the upper arm. It consists of the medial, lateral, and long head. The triceps muscle is responsible for straightening the arm or extending the elbow joint, which is important when drawing the bow.
The rotator cuff is comprised of the Supraspinatus, Infraspinatus, Teres Minor, and Subscapularis muscle. It allows your shoulder to rotate 180 degrees and helps you raise your arm. The rotator cuff is one of the most common injured muscles in archery.
Each muscle has its function, and they all contribute to the overall good performance during archery. Learning about these muscles will guide you on how to properly strengthen and take care of them. It will also help prevent any unnecessary injuries during archery.
How do I increase my archery strength?
You can increase your archery strength by shooting your bow consistently and increasing the draw weight over time. Doing archery exercises will also help increase your strength and endurance to draw heavier bows with stability and accuracy.
Start by determining whether or not you’re overbowed. Overbowed means the weight of the bow is too heavy for you, which results in difficulty drawing back and holding the bow with a steady bow arm.
Signs of being overbowed while drawing or shooting includes:
- your bow hand or muscles are straining/shaking
- having inconsistent shooting form and draw length
- getting tired easily during/after the shooting session
- able to perform limited shots only during practice
After testing if you’re overbowed or not, you can begin by picking up a bow compatible with your current strength. Consistently shoot your bow will develop your muscles and give it more strength to control the bow easily and steadily.
Over time, your muscles will adapt and get stronger, which allows you to have a more consistent shooting form and draw length. You can also hold at full draw and shoot for longer periods without fatigue and strains on your muscles. It also allows you to relax your bow hand fingers and properly release the string.
Afterward, you can now transition by adding more draw weight. Remember to adequately test your strength so you can comfortably shoot your bow. Adding more draw weight over time will improve your ability to shoot heavier bows thus, increasing your archery strength.
Moreover, there are also archery exercises you can do to increase your archery strength and endurance. The following exercises include:
Incorporating cardio workouts, also known as endurance exercise, will help archers achieve a lower heart rate, calm nerves, and stamina, which is important during archery—may it be hunting or competition.
A simple cardio workout you can do at home can be marching in place or jogging in place. You can also increase the intensity by umping the speed or raising your knees higher. You can also move your arms from side to side and bounce lightly in place from one foot to another.
You can also try doing stair climbing, jumping jacks, or use a jumping rope. If you prefer to exercise outdoors, you can opt for brisk walking, cycling, running, or swimming.
Engaging in 20 to 30 minutes of cardio daily will strengthen your archery strength and endurance because it utilizes your body’s large muscles in movement over a maintained time. Regular cardio exercises will also increase your stamina, which helps reduce exhaustion during practice shooting, bowhunting, or competition in archery.
Meditation and Yoga
One of the most important aspects of being a good archer is the immense focus, stability, and self-control. Yoga or meditation allows archers to train the mind to focus, which helps in attaining more accurate and consistent shots even while under intense pressure.
Push-ups are a great archery exercise because they target the muscles generally used during archery, which increases the overall upper body and core strength and endurance. Doing push-ups also improves your ability to consistently draw and release the bow with a steady bow arm.
You can try a variety of push-up types, including Standard Push-Up, Military Push-Up, Wide Push-Up, Triangle Push-Up, and Wide-arm Push-up. The method used may vary, depending on what is suitable to you and you’re most comfortable to use.
Pull-ups primarily use the lats and biceps along with the core, rhomboids, and deltoids muscle. Doing this exercise will help strengthen the latissimus dorsi, the largest back muscle responsible for drawing the bowstring and stabilizing the bow at full draw.
Plank exercises help develop the muscle groups, including the core, back, and arm muscles. Planking improves your balance and core strength and provides stability and good posture during shooting.
You can either do the standard plank or the side plank. For the standard plank, get onto your belly while keeping your legs and back straight. Remember to raise your body on your elbows and maintain your elbow joints at 90 degrees.
For the side plank, prop your upper body using your hand to the side or up on your elbow. Next is to raise your hips off the floor and ensure your body is straight while holding that position for a couple of seconds.
Single-Arm Dumbbell Row
Single-Arm Dumbbell Row resembles the movement of drawing a bow while targeting the important muscle groups in archery, including shoulders, arms, entire back, and triceps. Doing this exercise will also strengthen your core muscles.
Moreover, a single-arm dumbbell row will also help with your ability to control your shots while keeping them consistent and stable.
For this exercise, you can either rest your leg and place your one knee on a bench or a flat surface while ensuring your torso is straight or parallel to the floor. Keep your one arm straight on the bench or flat surface for support, and use your other arm to pick up the dumbbell. Next is to pull it toward your chest and slowly lower it back. Repeat the process with your other arm simultaneously.
Dumbbell Lateral Raises
Dumbbell Lateral Raises targets your deltoid muscles, which help you draw the bowstring at ease and keep your bow arm steady as you aim and release. It also strengthens your shoulders, which increases mobility and precise shooting form and drawing of the bow.
What are the benefits of archery?
Aside from building muscles, practicing archery regularly also offers various significant health benefits and boosts overall well-being. Here are the benefits of why practicing archery can have a lasting impact on your wellness.
- A Form of Meditation
- Enhances Hand-Eye Coordination
- Enhances Patience
- Enhances Confidence
- Enhances Safety Awareness
Archery can be used as a form of meditation since it requires concentration, a clear mind, regulated breathing, and a sense of calm to properly execute archery techniques and shoot with accuracy and precision.
Archery also helps an archer balance and relax the mind and body while filtering out any distractions, which is beneficial in coping with high-pressure situations. It also increases self-awareness and emotional control by constantly being focused.
By regularly practicing archery, you enter a state of calmness and focus, which can provide a positive impact on a person’s mood or mental health.
Archery trains your ability to perform different tasks using your eyes and muscles while remaining focused and steady. Great coordination is required to achieve accurate and consistent aiming and firing of an arrow.
Continuous practice of archery will enhance your hand-eye coordination and ingrain the archery techniques into an archer’s subconscious and muscle memory. It will also enhance the archer’s reaction time, athleticism, and agility.
Archery can enhance patience because learning and getting a good grasp of the archery techniques will require lots of practice. An archer needs to repetitively practice to achieve accuracy and precision in aiming and firing an arrow.
Maintaining that level of patience is important to reduce feelings of frustration when you encounter mistakes or errors while training.
Seeing your progress in archery and noticing improvement in your skills as you regularly practice will help you build confidence. It will also boost your self-esteem and make you more confident to take on new opportunities as you get better in archery.
Archery can be dangerous if done recklessly or without proper knowledge about safety rules. This sport will teach a person to learn and practice safety protocols during a hunt, competition, or even practice shooting.
It will also teach a person to be responsible by following the implemented regulations and respecting the people an archer encounters.
Archery can be physically demanding as the act of drawing, holding, and shooting a bow expends energy and requires sufficient strength. Archers should have enough endurance and stamina, especially in the upper body and core, to aim and shoot arrows with ease.
Without proper strength and training, archery can cause fatigue, stress on the muscles, which can result in injuries that’s why it’s important for archers to frequently engage in exercises that will build up archery muscles and not to mention skills.