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The common gripe with archers in training is finding range time. Especially in the winter, when outdoor ranges close for the year, archers are met with the annual question: “where can I shoot now?”
Taking a third of the year off can really affect a hunter or target shooter’s fine-tuned biomechanics and muscle definition. Thankfully, there are many options to keep archers busy through the cold months. Some of which are even sold right here at hunting-bow.com!
First and foremost, nothing beats shooting your bow at a safe target. Grab a target block, like the Morrell Supreme Range Target (https://www.hunting-bow.com/products/morrell-supreme-range-target), for $110 USD and it will last you years of garage shooting. Depending on your property, you can shoot short-distance or long-distance – as long as you’re being safe with it. This is the best way to keep your bow and body mechanics in check, since the only thing you’re changing is the distance. Of course, when the weather allows for outdoor shooting, this can be used in backyards and on any properties that are large enough to safely accommodate shooting.
Now, if you’re unable to shoot at a target, you can at least have a pull-and-let-down exercise to keep your back muscles from weakening over the winter months. This involves setting up your bow, reaching full draw, then doing a smooth let-down. Don’t dry fire, though, it’s one of the worst things you can do to a bow and it puts yourself in danger of getting injured. While doing this, it might help to grab a Neet True Shot Coach (https://www.hunting-bow.com/products/neet-true-shot-coach-black-archery-training-aids), to make sure you aren’t sacrificing your grip technique. For $17, you can even use this item when shooting to give an extra sense of security when training. Eventually, you should look into buying grip tape or grip clay to permanently adjust your grip to your desired shape.
I know what you’re thinking, “the release is so important in archery though,” and you’re right. That’s where the AccuBow Training Device (https://www.hunting-bow.com/products/accubow-training-device-carbon-fiber) comes in for a fair $160 USD. Built out of carbon fiber, the AccuBow is designed to be dry fired! Pick one of these up, use the adjustable resistance to match your desired draw weight (up to 70 pounds), line up that laser sight and click that release as your new at-home workout regimen may include aiming at random items around your home. There is also a D-Loop attachment you can use for your mechanical releases, so recurve, traditional, and compound shooters rejoice. At this premium price, you get the premium bells and whistles that make this product stand out above the others.
Now if that seems a bit steep, especially if you already have a place you can shoot often (but not often enough), grab some resistance bands or a $30 USD Bowfit Archery Excerciser (https://www.hunting-bow.com/products/bowfit-archery-excerciser-bow-trainer). This tool is easily adjustable and simulates the weight of drawing a bow. It comes in two options, medium (30-50 pounds) and heavy (50-80 pounds) for archers of all sizes. Do this exercise and keep your archery muscles active anywhere you go. You can even take this wherever you travel and set it up anywhere! Some archers I’ve competed with (myself included) use these to warm up and cool down before and after a long tournament.
A similar item is the Saunders Trap Builder Back Tension Trainer, (https://www.hunting-bow.com/products/saunders-trap-builder-back-tension-trainer-30-80lbs), a well-designed exercise tool to maintain, build, and activate your lower trapezius muscles. It’s slightly more expensive than the Bowfit Archery Exerciser at $80 USD, but this will ensure that you’re drawing using the most efficient biomechanics available to you, and is a great way to warm up and cool down before a day of shooting, so the tool has a lot of use outside of the winter months as well.
Archers at the national level will use the term “volume” to define how many arrows they shoot over a training period. This could be a week, month, or even daily. For competitive and experienced archers, it is recommended to have a volume of up to 3000-5000 arrows per month. Brady Ellison, team USA’s prodigal shooter, averaged 350-400 arrows a day over around 5-6 hours of shooting. Now, this isn’t a realistic goal for a lot of younger and less experienced shooters, but it does give an idea of the raw volume that competitive archers keep up to maintain their heavy draw weights and immaculate technique. For younger and less experienced shooters, 60-150 arrows a day is a great start, alternating on longer days and shorter days to give ample rest to build up muscle.
In order to start tracking arrow volume, grab a tally counter (baseball pitch counter) and keep it on your quiver. I personally keep two, one in my bag for monthly totals and one on my quiver that I will click when retrieving arrows. I usually jot down my training in a little notebook so I can track my volume over the months.
That’s it for our exercise and training tips, we hope you’ve gained some valuable insight! General strength and flexibility should not be neglected either, as well as mental training, if you’re into that. Keep shooting hard and train harder!