If you ask someone to define what a ‘workout’ is to them, they’ll probably talk about zumba, gymnastics, or certain sports. In contrast, most people perceive archery as a stationary activity that requires little to no physical fitness. Of course, most people have never held a bow in their lives, so you can’t blame them for this gross misinterpretation. So, is archery a workout?
By definition, a workout refers to training, exercise, or practice undertaken primarily to improve one’s physical ability, stamina, and performance. This can be done in order to compete better or simply to help build the resilience, strength, and aptitude of our bodies and minds.
Let’s take a look at a few characteristic features of a good workout, and you’ll see that archery is a workout.
Every workout helps you to burn calories as the body converts fats and carbs into energy. And regular workout can, over time, help to improve your overall metabolic rate.
Now, even if you’re just shooting arrows in your backyard, you’re sure to get a fairly decent workout from it. Take about 40 shots and you’ll feel the burn in various muscle groups involved during archery. On top of this, you’ll have to walk regularly to retrieve the arrows which can add up to a surprising amount of calories over a whole practice session.
A good workout should incorporate strength training, which involves building muscle mass on different parts of the body.
A typical archery session, if done correctly with good form, works on a variety of muscle groups. Your chest, arms, upper back muscles, and core need to be activated, contracted, and released during every single shot. These short bursts of energy put the muscles under a fair amount of stress which results in the subsequent growth of these muscles in order for them to handle the increased stress.
Another part of the body that is ignored in most standard workouts and is often injured due to our posture in front of computer screens, is the rotator cuff. During archery the rotator cuff is continuously stretched and strengthened by the action of drawing the bow, which can build up the strength in this ligament and reduce the probability of injury.
An ideal workout should promote coordination between different parts of the body, and archery is all about coordination. A good shot requires the combination of high-precision movements that need to become a part of the archer’s muscle memory.
You need to be able to place your feet firmly, knock an arrow, grip the bow with the right pressure, pull back the string, and release. Of course, all these steps barely take a few seconds, but learning to coordinate them correctly and effectively takes time and hours of practice.
Coordinating different muscle groups through archery strengthens these associations in the brain, which eventually spills over to all other areas of your life.
Building discipline and improving your focus is crucial in nearly every area of our lives, and archery is a highly effective way to do this.
Shooting an arrow demands your full attention in every way imaginable; it’s impossible to make a good shot while you’re distracted. You need to tune out sounds, sights, and even your competition (if you’re competing) and focus solely on the target.
Just like any other sport, getting good at archery requires deliberate practice, which is the kind of practice that is systematic and purposeful. Returning to practice everyday with a purpose is key to building discipline; a vital quality to the overall improvement of our lives.
Playing any sport or working out with intention is an effective way to build confidence. And archery is especially handy in this regard as it provides a clear indication of your progress.
From increasing your draw weight to setting more difficult targets, archery offers so many varied factors for you to play with and actually check how much you’ve improved.
Most beginners start off with a draw weight of around 20 pounds (which is the force required to pull the string of a bow). And as you progress you can slowly begin to increase the draw weight to 25, then 30, then 35 pounds and so on. You can also start to increase the distance between where you take the shot and the target.
All these markers of improvement will cause a surge in your self-esteem and build confidence, which is a useful characteristic trait to have for any endeavour in life.
Learning to shoot your first arrow may not be as difficult as you thought. But hitting your first bull’s eye? It could be awhile before you get around to that.
Refining your skills takes time, and every pro is acutely aware of the hours of diligent practice, the struggles, and the sore muscles that accompany this journey. Without patience, it’s impossible to get good at anything, let alone something as complex as archery.
However, with the right mindset, archery can be a great vehicle to learn the skill of patience. It can teach you that it’s worthwhile to invest your energy in a craft that requires hard work and dedication to excel at.
And patience is a quality coveted in today’s busy world. Use archery to help you learn this invaluable skill.
Just like any other good workout, archery is a great way to relieve stress and promote relaxation. This happens in a number of ways.
You learn to stay calm and regulate your breath before each shot, which, over time, helps to slow down your thoughts and drastically reduce stress levels
Using that much focus, strength, and concentration helps to transfer consciousness to the body, leaving very little energy for you to spend on worrying afterwards
Archery triggers the release of endorphins in the body which create a positive, relaxed feeling in the brain
The best part is that you can have fun while receiving all the benefits of a workout! So if you haven’t already given it a shot, get out there and try your hand at archery. You can get started by choosing your bow. You won’t regret it.