What Muscles to Build up for Archery Shooting

Written by jeremiah blanchard
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What Muscles to Build up for Archery Shooting
Archers need to be in good physical condition for optimal performance. (archery image by Vladislav Gajic from Fotolia.com)

Archery is an activity that demands intensive practice over time to master the proper drawing and shooting skills required. In addition, specific muscle groups are used while drawing the string and holding the bow on target. Strengthening these muscles can enhance your form and accuracy while target shooting. Over time, these muscles will become stronger and accustomed to the repetitive movements through a process known as "muscle-memory."

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Rotator Cuff Muscle Group

The three muscles that surround the shoulder socket--or glenohumeral joint--are known as supraspinatus, infraspinatus and subscapularis. These muscles make up the rotator cuff muscle group. This group is extremely important to archers because you need shoulder rotation allowed by these muscles to pull back and hold the bowstring. These muscles also help stabilise the shoulder and upper arm as it is used to pull the bow string, as well as to hold the bow steady and level with the opposite arm. Ideal exercises to strengthen the rotator cuff muscle group are; seated rowing, dumbbell fly movements, and circular dumbbell movements.

Arm Muscles

The biceps and brachialis both affect the motion of the elbow as it is flexed when the bowstring is pulled. These muscles, along with shoulder muscles, are also used to hold the bow at full draw. The biceps are the muscles of the arm that effectively pull the bowstring, while being assisted by the brachialis located in the upper arm that actually flexes the elbow. Standard biceps curls and pull-ups are both great exercises to develop these muscles.

Upper Back and Shoulder

The trapezius muscle--located on the upper back--are used along with the shoulder and arm to draw the bow and hold it at full draw. A weak trapezius muscle can cause tremors while holding full draw for an extended amount of time resulting in poor accuracy. The rear deltoid muscles are also relied on heavily for stabilisation in both the draw arm and bow arm. The rear deltoid is almost fully flexed when the string is at full draw. Ideal exercises to build up these muscle groups are; seated rows, pull-up's, shoulder shrugs, forward dumbell fly movements and back press exercises.

Forearm and hands

The small muscles in the hands are critical to holding the bowstring properly. These muscles aren't as heavily used when using a release assist device, though still utilised because the hand contacts the string. The abductor pollicis, abductor pollicis brevis, flexor pollicis brevis, and opponens pollicis(the meaty part of your palm next to the thumb) all are utilised in grabbing and pulling the string. Hand exercises such as simulated rock climbing, grip flexors are ideal exercises to build up hand strength. While utilising the hands,the forearms must also be kept rigid and strong to support the bow. The forearm muscles--brachioradialis and all of the extensor group are engaged in this process. Forearm exercises can include any arm or upper body exercises. The forearm muscles are used in all arm or upper body lifting activities, and generally require heavy weight and numerous repetitions to build.

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