Best Exercises for Archers

archery exerciseThe best exercises for archers are those that build core body strength and include the reverse fly, 90/90 external rotation, straight arm lat pulldowns, resistance training and of course mental health training.

Apart from being a very relaxing and enjoyable pastime, archery requires a lot of body strength and a positive mindset.

You can become a better overall archer by introducing archery exercises and fitness into your routine.

The best archers on the planet don’t go out and fire off scores of arrows for training purposes.

By incorporating training and fitness programs you will –

    • Increase physical and mental strength
    • Improve flexibility
    • Increase stamina
    • Improve concentration
    • Retain a positive mindset
    • Improve your stability

And more…

There are numerous exercise and training activities that you can get involved in that will make you a better archer without even stepping onto an archery range.

Does Archery Count as Exercise?

archery exerciseTo become successful in archery you will crave determination, total exactness, laser focus, emotional control and medium to high physical ability.

High-level athletes stick to strict training routines that run for extended periods of time however archers that involve themselves in archery purely for pleasure can also benefit greatly from their efforts.

Outdoors or indoors, competing or just for the love of it, involving yourself in archery burns up calories as a result of increased activity and it’s great for your mental health as well. 

The latter arguably being the higher priority.

Archery is a sport that calls upon your core muscles to provide short bursts of high energy. Drawing a bow results in tension in your chest, your hands, your arm also your large upper back muscles.

The non-core areas of your body such as your rotator cuffs are responsible for supporting your shoulders. Repetitions of these movements, if they’re executed in the correct manner, renders these tissues stronger and more durable.

Archers discover how to retain focus on their shooting and to avoid diversions such as strong breezes or wind, the length of the shot and bothersome noises, in order to execute the perfect shot.

This control will serve you well throughout your entire life.

The processes required to achieve a great shot unite to create a specific series of events that needs to be implanted in the memory of the archer’s muscle and his or her’s subconscious. 

There’s so much that needs to engage simultaneously, with little to no room for error, that coordinating these activities becomes almost instinctive.

During competitions, an archer will walk about 5 miles every day and may burn up 100 to 150 calories for each half-hour of competition.

Remaining calm and focussed in stressful situations is a skill developed through improved management of breathing, focus and anxiety. 

When you’re ‘hitting the bullseye’ hours can fly past at a ridiculous speed and, as much as archery is a social event, archery is only about you and your next shot. 

When competing, your greatest opponent will be yourself. 

If you can identify what you need to do in order to improve, then set goals to achieve it, you will progress. And that my friend will result in greater confidence in everything you get involved in.

Is Archery Good for My Fitness?

The short answer… YES – as long as it’s combined with an all-around healthy lifestyle.

Archery by itself will never give you a body like Hercules and, if you’re into junk food and soda, you’ll never get there regardless of what you do.

But, if your diet is based around healthy eating habits and exercise, involving yourself in archery will definitely assist you in gaining a better physique and improved muscle tone as it uses a number of muscle groups that virtually no other exercise does.

Ongoing archery practice can result in your existing muscles becoming more defined and visible, all the while working on back strength as well as core muscle groups.

If you have a pulse you can be involved in an archery fitness training program to help strengthen the muscles that will be used. 

Kick it off slow…

Every exercise you do needs to be within your limits otherwise muscle damage may occur. Ensure that you’re not ‘over straining’ when doing your training. Adjust your program to match your abilities.

Commence without involving any weights at all and simply employ body movement not only to warm you up but also to achieve that muscle-burning feeling.

What Muscles Does Archery Work?

ancient archerySkeletal remains of ancient archery warriors from 9th and 10th century CE found in the vicinity of Hungary showed clear activity-based stress signs on the bones.

These discoveries allowed researchers to confirm the muscles they used the most.

These signs are also known as musculoskeletal stress markers.

The unusual bone structure of the collarbones, upper arm bones and lower arm bones of these bow-toting warriors was clearly visible and it was obvious where crucial archery muscles were attached.

As a result, we know to target these muscles as well as stomach and lower back muscles.

 Other groups include –

  • For drawing your bow: infraspinatus group.
  • For your Shoulders: Anterior deltoids for grasping your bow and posterior deltoids.
  • Your back: The teres major and minor muscles to assist you in drawing your bow and Latissimus Dorsi, Trapezius and Rhomboids.
  • Your arms: Triceps and brachioradialis to grasp your bow and biceps and brachialis to draw it.

So, that’s a fairly exclusive group of muscles that not all athletes or hardened gym junkies are familiar with. Many an archer is aware of the story of a body-builder who struggled to actually draw a bow, don’t laugh!!

The muscles that are used during archery is precisely the reason why involving yourself in strength training for archery or engaging a bow trainer is well worth it.

Severe pain and nasty injuries are relatively common among professional archers and serious amateurs and alleviating general shoulder pain and joint swelling through archery is generally quite a complex procedure.

Taking it easy during training will go a long way to actually prevent these types of injuries. Researching training options is a smart idea and will minimize the chances of you suffering any injuries.

Shoulder Exercises for Archery

shoulder exercise for archeryShoulder muscles tend to suffer more than most because archery is disproportional in that it does not apportion the stress of drawing your bow on your body evenly.

To compensate you may wish to consider strengthening the group of four muscles that secure your shoulder and let it move as it should.

This muscle group is called the rotator cuff muscles.

My preferred exercise routines for this group are ~

  • External rotation
  • Internal rotation
  • Lateral raises
  • Standing rows

And, when you get the hang of those exercises try these ~

  • Reverse fly
  • 90/90 external rotation
  • Straight arm lat pulldowns
  • Victory raises

Include all these in your routine as well, check out youtube to learn these exercises if you’re unsure of what to do however if you’re not comfortable doing them on your own a personal trainer may be a suitable option for you.

Investing additional time at your home or the gym working on shoulder stretches and exercises can pay off big time in the end.

Be aware that some exercises may result in your shoulders being in vulnerable positions and you may end up experiencing some pain.

Below are some shoulder exercises that should be avoided if you experience this ~

  • Throwing motions
  • Bench Press (especially barbells)
  • Overhead Press, or any lifting of weights above your head
  • Tricep Dips
  • Upright Rows

What Are the 5 Components of Fitness and Their Definitions?

Most of us can tell the difference between a fit person and an unfit person. Some of us may consider having a body resembling Hercules would most certainly indicate fitness while others may think that having a body like a supermodel is the epitome of being fit.

Being fit is not only defined by how you look, your strength or your endurance it’s also defined by your mental health.

Let’s look at physical fitness for archery first ~

Muscle Power

muscle powerThe power in your muscles helps you move, lift and carry heavy objects.

Without this power your body would not be able to manage most things that require any sort of muscle power such as your bow’s draw weight.

An archer with less fitness will simply not be able to cope with a heavier draw weight.

The best option for increasing this power in your body is via a training routine that includes lifting heavy weights based on the 4/6 or 12/15 rep method. As the weight increases the number of reps should reduce.

Muscle endurance is how your muscles perform doing repeated contractions for extended periods of time. Your muscles are being used for longer periods and not a quick lift up and down.

To increase your muscular endurance lift lightweights in the 20/25 rep range. Training this way will train your muscle fibers for muscular endurance and, doing more reps results in an extended period of exercise.

Cardiovascular Endurance

This is measured by how long you can keep exercising by running, jogging, swimming, cycling, and anything else that results in your cardiovascular system (lungs, heart, blood vessels) working for longer periods of time.


Flexibility is one of the most important components of being fit yet it’s overlooked by many. If you’re not flexible your muscles and joints will become stiff and any movement would become more limited. Exercising this region guarantees that you will remain flexible enough to successfully carry out any body movement that you wish.

You can see how flexible you are by trying to touch your toes. It usually follows that the older we are the less flexible we become.

archery arm strengthSomething to look forward to eh… NOT!

Other well-rounded training options include ~

  • Exercise equipment
  • Resistance training
  • Weight machines
  • Weights over weight
  • Arm dumbbell row
  • Single arm dumbbell
  • Dumbbell side raise
  • Single-arm dumbbell row
  • Single-arm dumbbell lateral raise

Body Fat Composition

Body fat composition is a measure of how much body fat you have. If an individual weighs 100 pounds and has 25% body fat composition their lean body mass will be 75 pounds.

  • Men should have a body fat composition of less than 17%
  • Men should have a body fat composition of less than 24%
  • Men, on average, have around 18% to 24% body fat, ladies are a little higher at 25% to 31% body fat.

If you’re considering an archery fitness program that does not include these parameters your body will get the full benefits of your exercising. Every good fitness routine should include this component

Does Archery Increase Your Strength?

Well, yes it can!

Archery is such a popular and wonderful pastime that can actually improve your attitude, mental health and general wellbeing.

An archer’s body needs to have good core strength along with upper body strength. Archery requires this solid, unwavering strength so you’re able to manage what your shoulders, chest, arms, and hands are doing.

Will Archery Help Gain Greater Balance and Control?

Even when your muscles are well developed your brain needs to make sure your whole body is balanced.

Your Cerebellum, which is located in the rear of your brain, sends neurotransmitters to the muscles that hold you steady during archery. This ensures that you release the bowstring in a consistent manner every time.

Will Archery Improve Coordination?

Yes, the setting up and release of the arrow, your eyes, your core, upper body and your hands need to be entirely in-sync with one another. Improving your coordination has a positive effect on all these actions,

Will Archery Develop Greater Focus and Endurance?

While your body is moving into the preferred position for the best shot you need to ‘turn off’ any distractions and practice how to fine-tune your focus.

Your brain’s frontal lobe will manage this side of things, it’s your neural network that delivers your concentration allowing you to go through the arrow release procedure.

Your core strength is called upon to perform such feats as shooting from a galloping horse or a chariot, or any moving vehicle.

If you are thinking that you’re going to include archery in your exercise routine on an ongoing basis or you’re going for a ‘try it to see if you like it’ option, it’s a smart idea whichever one you decide on as you will benefit in many ways, both physically and mentally.

Archery Mental Health Benefits

archery mental healthArchery goes way back to 50,000 BC however back then its primary use was for hunting but also for protection against animals and marauding enemies.

From the Egyptian civilization of around 2800 BC we have learned that the bow and arrow were mostly used for defence against enemies and also to protect lives and conquer other territories.

In England, it wasn’t until the 16th / 17th centuries that archery morphed into a sport. Competition among archers started to heat up as they honed their physical and mental skills to achieve the level required to become a strong competitor.

Mental health plays a significant part in any sport, including archery. You’ll recall the routine that professional sports people perform to get their concentration in order prior to commencement.

Simple Drills for Boosting Archery Brain Power

Not one arrow needs to be fired and you don’t need to be at the range for you to improve your archery.

Wait… What?

Your archery will improve if you exercise your brain!

Any archer who wants to get better can do so by understanding how and why champion archers involve themselves in mental training. Top archers in the world are well aware that this sport is very much based on mental attitude.

Through brain exercise your archery skills will get better, the following 4 brain exercises can be done just about anywhere.

Seeing With Your Mind’s Eye 

If archery is constantly on your mind you are closer than most to seeing yourself as a top archer. See yourself going through the setup, nocking your arrow with a hard focus on the target and releasing the perfect arrow.

Then watch as your arrow slams into the bull’s eye, dead center!

When you think about, and see yourself, as being successful your confidence rises as does your positive thinking. Your self-doubt starts to disappear and you’re able to concentrate more on the job at hand.

Put simply, your mental attitude is improving.

Setting Your Archery Goals

your archery goalGoal setting and your mind’s eye work together, kick the process of making a highly desirable archery goal.

Next, set the smaller goals you need to achieve to get to your highly desirable goal. When you are doing this it’s important that you can actually see yourself in your mind’s eye achieving your goals.

Write your minor and ultimate goals on something like a sticky note and place it in a prominent position so it almost becomes your subliminal message to achieve.

Playing the Distraction Game

The ability to focus intensely and totally blank out all distractions are the passive requirements for improving your archery.

You may have experienced the following some time… you’ve psyched yourself up, you’re in the zone ready to release then, a cell phone rings close by.


Your concentration has been broken and you need to start your routine over.

Here’s a couple of easy routines to try –

  • While your TV is switched on and is on normal volume, slowly count backward from 100 down to zero without anyone or anything distracting you.
  • Do the same again only listen to music at your usual volume level whilst reading a newspaper article or similar. When finished reading ask someone to question you on what you have just read.

Is My Glass Half Full or Half Empty?

There’s no doubt in my mind that an individual with an optimistic outlook will do better at archery, in this case the glass is completely full and it’s involved in this exercise.

Grab a full glass of water and place it in your left hand (if you’re right-handed) and, with your arm stretched out, focus on it while endeavoring to remain as still as possible for a long as you can.

This is a terrific exercise for developing the focus you need when preparing for a shot.

Mental strength is an important part of archery when practicing, during competition or in any type of archery activity.

Why is Archery a Good Sport?

It may not be all that obvious but competition archers are a physically fit group of people. They have strong core muscles, can hold and position their arms in difficult locations, and have seemingly limitless flexibility.

The practice can improve your skills and, at the same time, it helps you stay in shape. However, you have to take into account some aspects so you don’t overdo it and injure yourself.

Whether you’re a social archer, in it for the fun or a competitive archer who loves the rush of competition, the friends and acquaintances that you bond within archery very often end up being buddies for life.

A large number of champion archers all around the world who have been shooting competitively over many years, have formed great friendships wherever they have competed.

Archery is a global dialect.

Why is archery a good sport – the majority of archers would respond by saying something like “it’s the challenge of hitting a target from 60 yards away, the thrill of the release and flight of the arrow”

It’s a great sport for building confidence quickly. The feeling of shooting a bow and accomplishing your goal – whether it’s drilling a bull’s eye or executing a great shot – helps you build self-esteem and enjoy a sense of accomplishment. Archery is also great for improving focus, patience and even math skills.

The fact that archery is an Olympic sport is a good indication that it’s a good, clean, credible and competitive sport. Very few archers are injured whilst engaged in archery.

Archery is an age old art of practice, the word comes from the Latin arcus. Archery has historically been used for hunting and combat for centuries however, in modern times, its main use is that of a friendly competition, recreational activities and hunting.

Teamwork is another good reason why archery is such a good sport. Being a member of a team teaches you great life skills such as consideration, being inclusive of others, responsibility and self-discipline because you need to be disciplined to be able to work effectively within a team.

Ethical Bowhunting

More frequently than ever before archers are considering, and getting involved in this ethical source of food called bowhunting.

Bowhunting is part and parcel of the archery family of competitive and recreational archery, through plenty of practice in the off season, bowhunters can bring down game with humane, well placed shots that do not cause the animal any stress.