Archery, like any other sport like football, baseball, or basketball, uses different sets of muscles. The main muscle group it uses are the upper back, the shoulder, and the shoulder blade muscles. So, before starting a shooting session it’s necessary to warm up first.
There are a lot of exercises that you can do to stretch your muscles and tendons. However, I’ll show you here an essential routine of exercises to do before start shooting. I picked this set of exercises because they are simple, quick and very easy to do and, best of all, you don’t need any fancy or expensive equipment. Only an elastic band will suffice.
For an easier follow-through, I split them into two groups. The first group is comprised of the must-do exercises, which are absolutely necessary to warm up. Then, there’s an additional group of exercises, for those who want a more intense warm-up.
Note 1: The majority of these exercises use the same stance. It consists of standing straight, with your feet separated a shoulder-width. To avoid repeating always the same description of the posture, we will call this stance the standard stance.
Note 2: I want to clarify that I'm not a professional in physical education. I just want to show you the exercises I learned on the web. If you are in doubt, please consult gym personal or a coach, which he/she can help you with these exercises one by one.
Must-do archery warm-up routine
This first group was chosen to be a set of quick and easy exercises to help you warm up. They are especially good for flexing and put shoulders and arms in motion. You can do all of them in a couple of minutes. If you don’t have much time, you can pick a couple of them, but I strongly advise to do all of them and, if you can, do all of them. In any case, it’s preferable to do all the exercises reducing the number of repetitions. They will not only prepare your muscles and joints for an archery session they will also help you to prevent injuries. You can check this post to see the most common injuries in archery,
As a start, we’ll start by drawing circles. This is a very simple exercise. It’s perfect to start.
- Do the standard stance
- Raise your arms at your sides, until they are parallel to the ground, forming a 90-degrees angle with your torso.
- Rotate your arms drawing small circles with your fists, of about one-foot diameter. Make 10 repetitions.
- Repeat step 2 but now drawing larger circles, about two feet diameter. Make 10 repetitions.
- Repeat step 3 but rotating in the opposite direction.
- Repeat step 2 but in the same rotation direction as step 4.
With this exercise, we will work again the shoulders rotation.
- We will use the standard stance as in the previous exercise.
- Raise your arms at your sides, parallel to the ground forming a T with your torso, as in the previous exercise. Your hands should be facing the ground.
- Without flexing your arms, rotate them until they cross in front of you, like a scissor. Keep one arm above the other one.
- Spread the arms until you form a T again.
- Rotate again until the arms cross in front of you. This time, switch the arm that goes above and below with respect step 2.
- As step 3.
- Repeat steps 2-5 10 to 20 times.
For this exercise, we will swing our arms back and forth.
- Do the standard stance.
- Without flexing your arms, raise one of them forward while raising the other backward.
- Rotate the front arm to the back, and the back one to the front, drawing the lower half of a circle with each hand.
- Repeat steps 2 and 3 performing a swing motion. Do 10 to 15 repetitions
Pay attention that when you move your arms back and forth your chest, together with the shoulder line, will twist to one side and the other. This will also help to put in motion your waist muscles.
This one is very similar to the Lower swing but, instead of starting with your hands at your sides, you’ll start with both hands raised, and the back and forth swing-like motion will be done from above, describing the upper half of the circle. As well as in lower swing, do 10 to 15 repetitions.
Here we will try to mimic one of the archery movements, which is the bow draw. This exercise is perfectly useful to put in motion the same muscles you’ll be using when shooting.
- You’ll have to stand with your back straight, and your legs spread a shoulder-width.
- Raise your bow hand at your side, forming a 90-degree angle with your torso.
- Grab an elastic band with that hand.
- Move your other hand until it reaches the other side of the band.
- While keeping the bow hand straight, pull the band with your other hand, bringing it to your face.
- Move your hand as you were undrawing, relaxing the band.
- Repeat steps 4-6 between 15 and 20 times.
- Do steps 4-6 changing your hands’ role. Now your bow hand will be your draw hand and vice-versa.
A word of advice. Do this exercise only with elastic bands. Never do it with a bow. And, least of all, without an arrow, or you’ll risk of dry-firing the bow. I’m not joking about it. Look here, there are the main dangers of dry-firing.
Together with the previous exercise, this one simulates the process of raising the bow.
- Stand straight, with your legs spread a shoulder-width and your arms at your sides.
- Step on one of the elastic band ends with your right foot, and grab the other end with your right hand.
- Keeping your torso straight, raise your right arm at your side without flexing it, pulling from the elastic band.
- Lower your arm.
- Repeat steps 3-4 between 15 and 20 times.
- Change sides. Step on the band with the left foot and grab the other end with your left hand.
- Repeat steps 3-4 between 15 and 20 times.
After focusing on shoulder exercises, we’ll now jump to some additional muscle groups. For instance, this exercise, as the name suggests, is focused on warming up waist muscles and joints, so your torso is more relaxes, and you don’t get waist cramps when you want to shoot for an extended period.
- Stand straight, spreading your legs a shoulder-width separation.
- Put your hands on your waist.
- Without lifting your feet, twist your torso to one side, and then to the other.
- Repeat step 3 at least 10 or 15 times.
- On each further repetition, twist your torso a bit more, trying to push your twisting limit a bit further.
If you want to increase the difficulty a bit, do this exercise with your arms spreads to your sides, forming a big T with your torso. The arms spreading will add a bit of momentum to your twist, and you’ll have to do an extra effort to twist the torso to the other side. This additional momentum will help you also to twist a bit more.
Additional, more intense archery warm-up exercises
Nearly everyone knows how to do push-ups, or at least heard or seen how to do it. Well, this type of push-up exercise is a bit different. Besides exercising biceps and triceps, we will add a little modification which is especially suited for archery. We will add a shoulder blade rotation to exercise shoulder muscles.
- Put in a push-ups position, with your hands on the ground, your arms straight. Your body should also be straight. Please be careful not to bend your waist or you’ll be not doing it properly. Rest the bottom part of your body on your toes.
- Try to move both shoulder blades closer to the spine by pulling your shoulders back. Pay attention not to shrink your shoulders. That will make your neck sore, and won’t be exercising the back muscles. With your shoulder blades as closed, we are now able to do the push-ups.
- Flex your arms, lowering your chest until it’s nearly touching the floor.
- Raise your chest, straightening your arms, and relax your shoulder blades.
- Repeat steps 2-4 10 times.
It’s important to have in mind that this exercise is not easy for everyone. If you are getting difficulties with it, you can reduce the number of push-ups to one that makes you feel more comfortable. In the extreme case, you can omit this exercise completely. You have a lot of other ones to do.
This one is quite simple, but you have to follow the instructions carefully to avoid using the wrong muscles.
- Spread your legs a shoulder-width and flex your knees a bit.
- Tilt your torso forward until your shoulders point towards your toes tips. To tilt your torso, break the hip. Don’t bend your back. Hunching will sore all your back muscles. Always keep your back straight.
- Relax your arms. Let them fall loosely. Face your palms away from you, so your thumbs face in opposite directions.
- Now, pull your shoulders back, trying to join the spine.
- Then, raise your arms at your sides until they form a T with your torso, without flexing them. Pay attention to your hands, so the palms always face away from you.
- Lower your arms until they face down.
- Move your shoulder blades to a relaxed position. Relax also the arms.
- Repeat steps 4-7 10 times.
Well, I think this list of warm-up exercises is long enough to carry out before an archery practice. Of course, there are a lot more exercises you can do to warm up. The list can be as large as we want. There’s also a set of exercises routine to strengthen your archery muscles. Please, remember to warm-up before each shooting session, or you might be severely injured and even have to stop practicing archery. Check this post, where I show you the most common archery injuries.
Do you want to tell us which other exercises you use to warm up before shooting? Please comment below and, then, go visit my other posts. They are full of great information you can surely use.
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