What exactly does “in good shape” mean for archers? Although archers don’t train to sculpt a swimmer’s physique, elite archers still eat and work out in ways that fuel the body and reinforce shooting-related muscle memory through hundreds of practice arrows.
For the rest of us, good fitness might just mean small changes in our workouts and food choices to improve our shooting in practice, leagues and competition.
If you think archery pros aren’t fitness-focused, think again. Just this week, multi-time compound world champion Braden Gellenthien launched the “Wing Crew Fitness Challenge,” and asked fans to join. Other top archers signing on for the challenge include fellow World Champion Bridger Deaton and Indoor World Cup gold medalist Crystal Gauvin.
“I came up with the idea to create a fitness plan so we could document our progress as we work toward becoming healthier and more fit,” Gellenthien said. “We came to the conclusion that after spending so much time and effort to perfect our equipment that it was kind of silly that we didn’t give a second thought to our most important shooting platform: our bodies.”
For maximum success, archery fitness plans should address these core principles:
1. Prevent Injury
Stretching before EVERY archery practice is a must for preventing injuries. It’s easy to do, takes only minutes, and gets you hitting your target’s center much faster than if you skip stretching. Start with these super easy (but helpful) moves from The Spine Solutions:
2. Use Training Aids
To increase flexibility, you’ll want two tools: Thera-band tubing and a training aid such as a Formaster or the Astra Archery Shot Trainer. Thera-band tubing allows you to go through the motions of shooting your bow, but at a lower weight and without the pressure of shooting an arrow. You can use your stretch band in front of a mirror (the best option for visual feedback) and take it with you for on-the-go practice. Tools like the Shot Trainer work with your bow to help you develop stronger back tension and improve shot execution:
3. Build Strength
According to KSL International Archery, the personal website for USA Archery’s national head coach Kisik Lee, one of the best ways to build strength is to try Specific Physical Training. SPT is a great way to work out for archery without shooting arrows. In this awesome outline, Coach Lee explains the four SPT exercises that can be done with the bow: endurance, power/strength, flexibility and structure.