Archery takes endurance. It requires physical strength and stamina to shoot every arrow at the top of your game. In competition, depending on the format, it can mean drawing back and shooting anywhere from 60 to 100 arrows. Some tournaments even take place over multiple days with several elimination rounds. Shooting can become exhausting without the right training.
Even if you’re not training for competition, building endurance will help you become a better archer. Strength improves performance and prevents injuries. Here are some ways to increase your stamina and strength.
Shoot as Often as Possible
One easy way to build endurance is to shoot as many arrows as possible. Repetition improves performance and builds stamina. But set realistic goals and work within your limits. Overdoing it can cause injuries and bad form, which will only make progress slower.
For example, start with 30 arrows a day, several times per week. Add 10 arrows per week. You could also break this down into ends, which are a set number of arrows shot together before being pulled from the target. To prepare for competition, work your way up to the number of ends in the tournament.
Practice with Purpose
Endurance isn’t about the number of arrows you can shoot; it’s about maintaining control of each shot. So when practicing, remember to shoot each arrow with purpose. USA Archery national head coaches Kisik Lee and Chris Webster encourage archers to do Specific Physical Training, in addition to just shooting.
SPT exercises are designed to help archers train for competition. There are several different types of SPT exercises that can be tailored to the individual and their abilities. SPT exercises focus on building strength, structure, flexibility and endurance.
The exercise that improves endurance is a holding exercise. Come to full draw, using the correct technique. Hold at full draw for at least 30 seconds. Don’t forget to aim, since that ensures you maintain the correct form. Let down and rest for double the amount of time you held at full draw. If you can’t hold for at least 30 seconds, that’s a sign that you need to lower your draw weight. Set realistic goals with this exercise and work up to more repetitions.
This video explains the exercise and more:
Don’t Skip the Cardio
Some people forget that in addition to shooting, archery involves a lot of walking. The steps begin to add up when walking back and forth from the target to the shooting line. Indoor and outdoor tournaments keep competitors on their feet for hours. Many 3D and field tournament courses include hiking conditions. Even if you’re in great shooting shape, being worn out from walking will impact your shooting. Adding some cardio, whether it’s walking, running, hiking or biking, to your exercise routine can help improve your performance.
Warm Up and Cool Down
Like any physical activity, archery works the muscles. It’s important to care for these muscles by warming up and stretching. Do a quick warmup before every practice session. This will prep the muscles for shooting. Once you’re done for the day, take some time to stretch. This will improve recovery time and increase flexibility.
Take Time to Recover
When you’re building endurance, rest time is equally as important as hours on the range. Be sure to give your body enough time to recover. Recovery is one of the most important parts of a training program because it allows the body to heal and prevents injuries. You won’t see results without rest.
Don’t try to go from practicing weekly to daily. To achieve results, slowly work your way toward more practice while allowing ample time for recovery. If you’re trying to transition from recreational shooting to competition, check out “How Often Should I Practice?”
Endurance isn’t built overnight. It’s a slow progression that takes time and commitment. But that’s what makes the results worth the wait.