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Try exercises for archery to hit the fitness bullseye
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Try exercises for archery to hit the fitness bullseye

Mastering the sport of archery requires a strong physical, mental, and technical aptitude. The training routine provides holistic gains which can benefit fitness enthusiasts as well

Physical fitness is a crucial aspect of any sport. In archery, which is a popular sport that combines skill, focus and precision, the physical movement is minimal, barring the pulling of the bow string and the shooting action. This fuels the misconception that the physical demand for archery is relatively less. However, archery requires substantial strength and stamina, which explains the significance of exercises for archery.

Just like any other sport, adhering to a proper exercise regimen is essential to prevent injuries and optimize performance in archery. Certain aspects of an archer’s training that focus on holistic fitness can be adopted by fitness enthusiasts as well, reaping its benefits.

“An archer shoots 72 arrows in a qualification round in a normal sequence,” says Shihan Hussaini, a level three archery coach certified by the World Archery Federation. “Thus, strength and endurance are crucial. The energy system must guarantee that each shot must be consistent. You will undoubtedly need twice as much energy as the average person for this, which can be gained through following a proper exercise routine.”

Archery is a completely different sport – in terms of the type of muscles involved. The upper body muscles—the back muscles, core muscles, biceps, triceps, deltoid, trapezius, pectoral muscles, and the levator scapulae are utilized more.

“Regardless of the muscles involved, the physical training regimen for archery must include proper warm-up, stretches, power, and stamina exercises,” adds Hussaini, vice president and director of the coach’s committee, the Archery Association of India.

TheraBand exercises

When it comes to strengthening the essential muscles involved in archery, TheraBand workouts are effective. According to Hussaini, a wide range of exercises can be done with a TheraBand to enhance your archery prowess. Some prominent ones include upper shoulder lift, arm lift, U lift, chest muscle exercises, and back muscle exercises including back squeeze, side squeeze and rowing exercises.

Stretches

Spine stretch: Raising the hands above your head and bending forward. This exercise promotes flexibility and stretches the spine.

Stretches for the eye muscles: Stretching the muscles in the eyes is an essential component of an archery fitness regimen. “It enhances focus, visual clarity, and reduces eye strain, all of which contribute to achieving a more precise aim,” says Hussaini.

Start by moving the eyeballs left, right, up and down, followed by lens stretch where you have to keep one fingertip on the tip of the nose and another finger of the same hand extended forward. Now start focusing on the extended finger, it helps the ciliary muscles to contract and relax. After a few seconds, you can try rotating the finger and eyes clockwise and anti-clockwise. These eye exercises are a must for an archer. However, they are also effective in reducing screen time strain, a professional hazard that almost all of us endure.

Neck stretch: Turn your neck to the right, left, up, and down, followed by side rotations and full rotations clockwise and anti-clockwise.

Chest stretch: Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, clasp your hands behind your back, and gently lift and straighten your arms while squeezing your shoulder blades together to open the chest; hold the position for a mild stretch, and then relax.

Shoulder stretch: It involves curling the shoulders forward, then backward, and shoulder drop (shrugs), where you raise the shoulder and drop it down.

In addition to the stretches mentioned above, it is crucial to incorporate arm twists, wrist stretches, hip rotations, heel stretches, and toe raises in the stretching routine for the archery exercise regimen. These are stretches that can be used as a warm-up for any fitness activities too.

Balance and stability exercise

Archers practice extensive balance and stability drills. A popular and highly effective technique is the rocking platform exercise. It involves trying to balance while standing on a rocker board or rocking platform (a balance training device that tilts in multiple directions, challenging users to maintain balance).

“This practice helps in archery to ensure they are well stabilized when they are on the ground to shoot,” says Hussaini.

Mental exercise

Archers pursue specific practices to strengthen their mental ability to aim at the exact shooting spot, even as physical activities such as TheraBand workouts, stretches, and balance and stability exercises increase the physical attributes needed for archery.

A key mental enhancement technique embraced by archers is self-talk.

“Archers adopt self-talk as a tool to boost their confidence by offering affirmations to themselves. In a similar vein, archers are reminded to stay focused on their tasks by taking an oath before they begin shooting. It also elevates their self-confidence,” says Hussaini.

Apart from undergoing physical and mental training, archers must adhere to a specific bow routine to enhance their bow-handling proficiency. “Even if you are a right-hand archer, you still need to practice with the left hand to keep the body’s muscular systems balanced,” says Hussaini.

Takeaways

  • Archery makes greater use of the muscles in the upper body. The physical training program for archery must include correct warm-up, stretches, strengthening, and endurance exercises, as well as mental exercises. 
  • An archer’s workout routine is holistic and can be adopted by fitness enthusiasts.
  • Workouts using TheraBand effectively strengthen the key muscles involved in archery.
  • Balance and stability drills are a major part of archer training. One popular and highly effective method is the rocking platform exercise.
  • Archers must engage in self-talk and oaths, to improve their mental aim and pinpoint the shooting location.

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