How Some Simple Archery Training Exercises Can Help
Since the Olympic Games are probably occupying your news feed lately, here’s a question: what do world-class athletes like Olympians all have in common? They are all experts in their field. They weren’t simply born that way either. They practiced tirelessly for years to get to be in the position they’re in. There’s something amazing about that kind of dedication and mastery. The same could apply to your archery training. Now maybe you don’t want to be the absolute top shot in the world with a target bow or compound bow, but you can use some of these principles to improve your accuracy and stand a better chance at getting a deer this season.
A solid archery training program will help prepare you for what you’ll experience in the woods. Not just the actual shooting, but also the hiking, carrying, pulling, and climbing you’ll have to do. If you want to take your archery training to a new level before the season opens, there’s still time. Not much, mind you. But you can adopt a few principles into practice before you hit the woods.
Strength Training for Bow Hunters
Aerobic conditioning and strength training are both important for your body no matter what. But they are really critical to do before hunting season. Being able to physically do the movements requires a basic level of fitness. But some of the common exercises for archery hunters you see don’t always translate well into functional hunting movements. The absolute best way to prepare your body for certain activities is by actually doing them. For that reason, this archery muscle training plan is going to focus on functional tasks that you’ll need to do in the field.
Unless you’ll be bow hunting out of a box blind or ladder stand on private land, the first thing you’ll likely have to do while out hunting is to bring your climbing tree stand into the woods and find a tree. This will probably involve a lot of walking while carrying your stand on your shoulders. To replicate this in training, you should hoist your tree stand onto your shoulders and get used to walking around with it. Find a good trail through the woods with some topographic changes and walk it a couple times a week. This will strengthen your legs, back, and core muscles and you’ll get a good aerobic workout in too. If you don’t want to use your deer stand as a training tool, load up a large backpack with weight and do the same circuit. This archery training movement is as close to the real thing as you can get and will translate just fine in the woods. Simply hiking more before opening day will condition your body for the mobile hunting approach this season.
Assuming you’re skilled (and lucky) enough to put a deer on the ground, the real work begins. Some of you might be able to simply drive an ATV up and load the deer. But even that will require some heavy lifting. It’s hard to really replicate this exact movement, but there are some options. Probably the closest way is to get a large duffle bag and fill it with sand bags. Without using any handles, practice gripping the bag and lifting it up into your truck bed. Really focus on lifting with your legs and keeping your core and back muscles tight. Don’t try to lift it with your back unless you want to pull something right before archery season opens. If this sounds like too much work, you can also practice by doing archery strength exercises like deadlifts and rows. This will challenge and strengthen the muscles used in archery and to hoist a deer off the ground.
Other hunters may have to drag the deer for a distance before loading it into a truck bed. To practice this movement, simply put on a safety/drag harness, attach it to a child’s winter sled, and add enough weight (weight plates, rocks, old tires, etc.) to it. Drag this around your yard for 10 to 20 minutes at a time. It will strengthen your legs and core muscles and prepare you for dragging a big deer through the woods. Oh, and it’s a heck of a cardiovascular workout too!
Archery Training Skills
Beyond the archery strength training routines discussed above, there are obviously also skills involved in bow hunting. These are equally important to hone through regular practice, so don’t neglect them.
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The first one you’ll need to be absolutely sure of is setting up your tree stand. This might not sound like a normal archery training routine, but it is definitely a skill to get to know your tree stand perfectly so that you can set it up quickly and quietly. Here’s the thing. You won’t always get to set it up on a calm afternoon. Sometimes you’ll need to quickly assemble it in the pre-dawn darkness without making a sound. Try practicing it in similar conditions, see how comfortable you feel doing it, and honestly assess how stealthy you were. Even if there’s no doubt in your mind that you were a ninja, you can probably still improve a bit.
If you’re archery hunting, you also obviously need to be highly accurate with a compound bow in order to be successful in the woods. One of the best archery tips is to simply practice it often. Get used to shooting it in all kinds of conditions and develop some muscle memory. Before opening day, you should definitely invest enough time to perfect your compound bow shooting technique. One way to do this is to video tape yourself up close, so you can see exactly how your form is. If you notice something about your pre-shot routine or didn’t realize how much you were torqueing your bow, this is the time to fix it. Having a reliable archery target is critical to uninterrupted and safe archery practice. That’s where the Big Game Tree Stands® target holder comes into play. The solid steel frame can hold bag targets or 3D targets in place so you can keep practicing.
It’s Not Too Late for Archery Training
Many of these exercises and archery practice tips are best if practiced throughout the summer. That way, a solid habit forms and you can reap the most reward from your sessions. But it’s not too late. Get outside tonight and add just one of these archery training tips to your routine. It will definitely help once opening day comes.