Dan Staton, MS
Bowhunting requires healthy mobile shoulders to draw and shoot archery tackle. An injury to either shoulder can leave you sidelined for the season or, worse yet, have you permanently removed from the sport all together. So if the shoulders play such an intricate role in what we do, the question is, what are you doing to keep your shoulders bullet-proof? You're not getting any younger, so to keep those aging muscles strong you need a due diligence list of exercises. Skeletal muscle abides by one rule; use it or lose it. This generally accepted rule of thumb equates to gradual loss in strength as we age and become less active. Any loss in muscle will have a negative affect on your ability to draw and shoot your bow. You can easily deteriorate your shoulders by not using them throughout the year and, believe it or not, your posture can have a big say in the matter as well. All of us want accuracy and precision; it’s correlated to our ability to hold steady at full draw from a solid foundation. Our mid to lower trapezius muscles coupled with rhomboids and posterior deltoids make up some of our key bowhunting muscles. To combat the aging process, you must implement strength training into your fitness regimen, and be extremely cognizant of your posture.
The shoulders tend to roll forward when we are at a desk staring at a computer monitor. We hunch forward when we drive, and most athletes I train tend to lack perfect posture. Most folks are completely unaware that their slouch and forward head can devastate shoulder health and expedite problematic shoulder syndromes that could have been avoided entirely. Poor posture is like driving a vehicle that is out of alignment. Sure. You can keep hammering the miles, but eventually you feel the effects of wear and tear and poor fuel economy. The shoulders need to be in proper alignment. So the first bit of advice is to fix your posture throughout the day. Bring your shoulder blades close to the spine, then depress them down. You will definitely notice that this is an unfamiliar posture, but it is the correct one. If you have a sedentary job make sure your chair is high enough to encourage strong ergonomics and when driving adjust your review mirror so that you have to sit up tall to see behind you. A few adjustments in your shoulder posture can prevent wear and tear, impingement, and other problems that a bowhunter simply does not need. Now, let’s move on to how to make your shoulders strong throughout the year.
Strength training is nothing more than providing a dose of “stress” to working muscle, you actually get your dividend once the broken down muscle has the opportunity to repair, adjust, and come back stronger. Strength training remedies age-related muscle loss, mobility loss, and should positively affect your ability to shoot your bow. Strong and mobile shoulders sponsor a smooth and stealthy draw, provide more stability while at full draw, and improves your ability pull more poundage for years to come. Many of my older bowhunting peers have had to drop their poundage into the high forties and low fifties to necessitate the loss in strength. Being active and pursuing resistance training will allow you to have complete confidence in your physical ability which to enables you to focus your full attention on the process of shooting.
The best bowhunting exercises are ones that strengthen many different muscles at the same time while mimicking some of the same attributes of our sport. This type of training is called functional strength training, which is the best approach to improving performance. The included photos show several different exercises which should be done weekly to help you slow down the sands of bowhunting time.
There's an art to drawing a bow back undetected - especially when adrenaline has saturated your bloodstream after sitting motionless in freezing temperatures from a tree stand. Then the labor of love -dragging a big buck back to the truck or lifting heavy elk quarters into a backpack requires strong and healthy shoulders. Your daypack or heavy backpacking pack rests upon your shoulders. All bowhunting endeavors rest upon your shoulders. You owe it to yourself to take care of the shoulders through weekly strength training and a conscious effort of better posture. Take heed in these words and don't be that guy that has to hang up the bow due to an injury or surgery. Keep those shoulders strong and mobile for years to come!
Note: To see fitness videos for archers from Dan Staton, visit Hoyt's YouTube Channel - http://www.youtube.com/user/HOYTARCHERYInc
. To see more articles from Dan, visit www.bowhunting.com.