Article Contributed by Editor-in-Chief J. Townsend.
Hunting season is beginning for some and just around the corner for others. I want to start this season off with a series of articles on the different aspects of fitness directly related to hunting and fishing activities. These articles are written to give you the ability to physically improve your skills for the season, in a wide array of methods. This article will focus on increasing your ability to draw a heavier weight on your bow.
Increasing the draw weight of your bow often begins as a self-proclaimed challenge the day you pick up your first bow and pull it back. You begin thinking, “How can I make this arrow go farther, faster, and hit harder?” Well, you need to increase your ability to draw your bow with an increased draw weight. Let’s look at why the draw weight is so important to hunters.
Draw weight is the necessary amount of force, usually measured in pounds, that is required to draw your bow back. The draw weight directly correlates to the amount of force that is exerted on the target when your arrow strikes. A higher draw weight means more striking power. More striking power can then provide a cleaner, more lethal, shot on your target.
There are essentially five muscles which take on most of the workload of drawing your bow. Understanding the mechanics behind the action of drawing will help us comprehend how to isolate workouts for each muscle. While conducting research on this topic I noticed that World Archery had a great amount of information on the mechanics behind archery and some good reference points for those who wish to take a deeper dive into the details.
Just like every other muscle in your body you will not want to over-work these muscles in order to quickly jump to a draw weight that is not suitable for you strength level. Slowly strengthening these muscles is the best approach to avoid unnecessary injury and the development of poor shooting form. Repetitious shooting of your bow is always a tried and true method to increase skill and strength. This workout plan has been formulated for those archers who wish to increase their strength and skill both on and off the archery range.
Please consult your physician before beginning this or any exercise program. Harvesting Nature nor its authors assume responsibility for personal injury or property damage sustained by or through the use of this exercise.
The advice given on harvestingnature.com is in no way intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Discontinue any exercise that causes you pain, severe discomfort, nausea, dizziness, or shortness of breath and consult a medical expert. Start slowly and at the level that is appropriate for you. Not all exercise plans are suitable for everyone.
Here are some stretches that will help loosen up stiff muscles and promote healthy exercise. It is recommended to stretch before and after any physical exertion where these muscles are heavily utilized. These stretches can help relieve fatigue after a long shooting session. Check out bodybuilding.com. They offer some great tutorials and give detail on some other stretches and exercises that target these specific muscles.
Dynamic Back Stretch: Start with your feet shoulder width apart and your hands at your side. Keep your arms straight and slowly raise them up and over your head. Repeat this 7-10 times. Extend your range of motion forward and backward each time.
Tricep Stretch: You can do this from a seated position or standing. Point your left arm straight up over you head. Bend you left hand backward and touch your left should with your left hand. Place your right palm against the bottom-side of your left elbow and slowly apply pressure backward. Repeat with the right arm.
Side Wrist Pull: Stand with you feet shoulder width apart and extend your left arm straight out in front of your body. Grab your left wrist with your right hand and pull your left arm to the right and across you body. Repeat with your right arm.
Side Neck Stretch: Stand with you feet apart and your shoulders relaxed. Look forward and slowly bend your head toward your right shoulder. Use your right hand to gently assist the motion. Repeat on the left side.
Front Deltoid Stretch: Keep your shoulders and back straight. Place your arms at your side. Slowly rotate both arms behind you, clasp hands, and bring upward until you feel stretch. Hold for a few seconds. Repeat 5-7 times. Do not lock your elbows.
Now that you are good and limber here are the exercises to begin tuning in those muscles. I try to incorporate these exercises into my weekly workout plan at least once or twice a week with a couple of days in between. I choose a weight that I am comfortable with and do not try to over exert my muscles. Lifting weights and using dumbbells that are too heavy can have adverse affects on your body, just like attempting to draw a bow that is too heavy. Remember to be safe, the season shouldn’t be wasted with an unnecessary shoulder or back injury.
Adding these exercises to your normal fitness routine will help boost strength in the highlighted muscles. In turn, this will increase your ability to draw your bow with a higher poundage. I would not recommend making large leaps in the draw weight. I would practice patient when increasing the draw weight. Too heavy a draw weight can cause the archer to develop poor form and makes you more easily prone to injury.
Read more on how to improve your archery skills:
Practice Makes Perfect and Drives Hunting Season Success
Archery Preparation for Hunting Season