Archery demands complete concentration and focused the power of will, but it’s also taxing on your body.
Yes, there are health benefits of archery, ones that people don’t often think of.
Because you’re firing while remaining stationary, people often fail to recognize just how much physical prowess it really takes to perform and hit your mark.
These are the main health benefits of archery.
- 1 1. Core Strength
- 2 2. Caloric Loss
- 3 3. Muscle Control
- 4 4. Improved Hand-Eye Coordination
- 5 5. Breath Control
- 6 6. Balance
- 7 7. Socialization Helps Mental Health
- 8 8. Fun Heals All Wounds
- 9 Long-Term Health From Archery
- 10 How to Prepare for Archery
- 11 Related Questions
- 12 Physical Fitness is but an Arrow Shot Away
1. Core Strength
Engaging your core is something that you’ll feel for days after the fact.
It’s usually done through strength training, but your core is constantly being engaged during nocking and firing your arrows.
Your arm muscles tighten while you’re applying draw weight (think of using exercise bands in a similar fashion), and to remain still, you engage that core.
Unless you’re Legolas, you’re not just pulling and immediately releasing your arrows. You’re slowly tightening your core as you try to steady your breath, and that’s constant engagement.
That burns a ton of calories while you’re putting resistance on it from your arm being pulled back. It actually has some of the same effects as planking, with a little less resistance.
2. Caloric Loss
Through an estimated calorie usage chart provided by worldarchery.org, you can see that archery ranks second in terms of caloric burn through activity, outranked only by a marathon.
Through that core engagement we were talking about, you’re putting your body into afterburn mode—where you burn calories even after the task or sport in question has been completed.
Your body takes a few hours to cool back down to its resting internal temperature after you do any sport.
While it’s heated up, your body is still working to burn calories while your muscles restore lactic acid that is expunged during said activities.
All of this burns calories, and if you include the walking/running to the target to retrieve your arrows time after time, it’s only helping to make our case.
3. Muscle Control
If you were physically unfit, and you were to do ten barbell raise, you might feel your muscles shake afterward.
If you’re wondering why it’s because you could be overloading your muscles without even realizing it.
Once you begin archery, you start training those muscles and reducing the load on them every single time you pull the bow back. They get used to it.
Much like what we talked about before with lactic acid, it’s training those specific muscles to eventually release less of it when you perform archery.
There’s nothing wrong with releasing lactic acid, and it’s almost impossible to produce too much, but it does make your muscles sore if you produce a lot of it after a workout.
That’s why people who are used to certain activities don’t feel the “burn” after some time, which is true with archery as well. Muscle control will prevent the shakes, and improve performance.
4. Improved Hand-Eye Coordination
Video games aren’t the only thing that improve hand-eye coordination.
Through archery, you’re focusing on long-range targets and predicting the trajectory of your arrows, accounting for wind speed, and knowing how it’s going to land.
That takes coordination, and you can’t tell us otherwise. That counts as a health benefit because it’s improving your cognitive function and risk assessment capabilities. It’s not physical, but it still sharpens your abilities.
5. Breath Control
Ever panicked before?
Sure, we all have, and one of the symptoms of a panic attack or a lingering symptom of panic is sparse uncontrolled breathing.
Your body goes haywire, and the stress that this brings on can actually damage your health. You focus on breathing so much in archery that it spills over into other areas of your life, and helps you keep a level head.
Through patience that you learn with archery, you’re able to slow yourself down in harsh situations and think more rationally.
Breath control, muscle control, and risk assessment all come crashing together to help you work your way out of a bad situation, regardless of what it is.
It lets you steel your nerves, and contribute to a positive outcome. Not to mention that you’re going to see a lung capacity increase from archery as well.
Having good balance is a sign of good health.
Don’t believe us? Harvard Health agrees that balance is a culmination of your bones, joints, eyes, inner ear, muscles and central nervous system working together to produce a rock-solid outcome.
This is an effect that you receive from doing archery, not something that you really have to practice at (so long as you are performing your archery techniques properly).
7. Socialization Helps Mental Health
Archery isn’t something you just do alone (or at least, not often).
Humans are social creatures, and as such, we need that part of our lives to feel healthy and reap the rewards.
Archery isn’t the most common sport, and as such, archery communities are much more willing to accept new members and find people with a shared interest in this seemingly lost Olympic art.
Socialization has been linked to living longer, reducing your risk of dementia, and improving the strength of your immune system, among other things. It’s an overall mental and psychological health boost if you can find those near you who enjoy it.
When you hear the term community nowadays, you think of an online one that you can join or be apart of, but face-to-face socialization hosts far more benefits than simply logging in and making a comment on a forum.
8. Fun Heals All Wounds
It’s easy to cut yourself off from the world when all is going astray, but most people end up staying tucked away.
The fun has been proven to boost serotonin production, which is the happiness chemical in your brain. It has scientific markers that prove beneficial for your health, primarily by reducing stress.
Stress is something people often think that they just feel, that it’s in their head, but it’s far more complicated than that.
Stress can come in the form of anger, sadness or being antsy, but it attributes to high blood pressure, high blood sugar, heart attack risks, insomnia, depression, headaches, and even fertility problems.
Yeah, it’s a big deal, and the fun you’ll have from sinking an arrow into your archery target is
Long-Term Health From Archery
All the effects we just talked about aren’t just short-term; they carry on with you for a long time and continue to improve your overall health.
One of the biggest things that it does, through physical fitness and some mental clarity, is to reduce and eliminate stress.
We’re not talking about feeling stressed out, we’re talking about reducing the amount of cortisol in your body. Cortisol is a life sapper; it affects your skin, hair, heart, joints, muscles, lungs, and gut health.
Being stressed out can cause weight gain, prevent weight loss, destabilize your immune system and take a toll on your mental health.
If you’re someone who’s interested in archery but hasn’t taken the plunge yet, take it from someone who knows: releasing an arrow is like sending stress fluttering through the air, except you’re in control of it.
When it meets its target, it’s like you’re putting a hole in whatever is stressing you out. It’s a great way to get away from everything in your normal nine-to-five world and just focus on you, and your abilities.
Archery helps you mitigate cortisol production, but it also has you feeling more relaxed and ready to tackle life when you leave the range or open field or wherever it is that you’re practicing.
I look forward to it every single weekend.
Handle your obligations, and while everyone else is thinking about drinking on Friday night, you’ll be thinking about waking up early on Saturday morning like other archers and getting to work on honing your skill.
How to Prepare for Archery
If some of the above health benefits and ways to attain them sound a bit intimidating, that’s okay: it comes from numerous hours spent training archery, and you have to be in the right physical condition in order to consistently enjoy them.
But if you’re just starting out, you can use these tips and tricks to prepare your body for archery before you ever put a bow in your hand.
This will help to begin developing those muscles and building endurance so you can enjoy archery for long periods of time.
Start With Dumbbell Side Raises
Dumbbells are some of the most versatile pieces of any home gym, and they can work a treat when you’re training your body to handle archery.
You can achieve these easily by standing upright with one dumbbell in each hand (there’s no point in only training your dominant side), and bending at the knees slightly so your back is perfectly straight.
Keep your elbows slightly bent, and pull the dumbbells up at a 45° angle until your elbow is completely bent back.
Do this on one side at a time, focusing on your form more than anything else. 10-20 of these a day, and you’re well on your way.
Train Your Wrist
This is where the dumbbells will come back into play.
Using 1-2 lb dumbbells, keep your arm completely straight on a table or the arm of a chair, and while holding the dumbbell in your hand, slowly move your wrist up to a 30° angle, then down to a similar angle.
Do this 15-30 times a session. You do not want to feel noticeable soreness or pain beyond the first few times you do this. If you still experience pain at that point, stop for a week and see if the rest will solve the problem.
Now, this isn’t everybody’s favorite exercise, but that’s because it gives some of the most results and puts a strain on your body.
When you’re standing rigid and tall with the bowstring pulled back, you want to have full confidence that your core is going to be tight until you release that shot.
Planking can be done by laying on your stomach and raising up on your forearms, and holding your body completely straight, from your toes to your shoulders, for various intervals of time.
This is the starting position, and these will help you strengthen your core muscles to aid you in controlling your bow.
Cycling, running, jogging—get out there and do some cardio, I don’t care if it’s on a treadmill or not.
Cardio will not only help your overall endurance, but it helps you retain your focus and alertness even when you begin to feel fatigued.
If you’re spending 4-5 hours on a Saturday practicing archery, it’s going to be slightly taxing on your body, and your endurance will define how you feel towards the end of it.
For this, work out a daily running regimen, or simply practice any cardio-specific workout plan that you enjoy.
Your deltoids control your shoulders, so to speak.
They’re the main muscle that you activate when you pull the bow up to your chest, and they help keep everything upright while you’re pulling the string back.
Since it’s almost impossible to feel them engage (due to the cartilage in your shoulder), it’s difficult to see progress as you do this, but it is there.
Get a kettlebell and hold it behind your head, and lower it as much as you reasonably can behind you, then pull upwards.
It’s simple but effective. Alternatively, you can lower a dumbbell behind your head with both hands to work out both deltoids at the same time.
Can Archery Make You Fit?
Yes, archery makes you fit. It works on your body by targeting muscle groups that otherwise might not receive much attention.
Being fit is a mix of being slender (average or low BMI), having muscle, and physical capabilities as well as physical health.
You will exercise core muscles, breathing, and burn calories/keep your body in a healthy state by training archery.
Can Archery Help You Lose Weight?
It can aid in losing weight, but it does not replace the main methods of losing weight: diet and cardio.
Now, there is some walking involved while you retrieve your arrows from your archery targets, and after ten or twenty rounds of firing, that adds up.
But that doesn’t replace what you get from HIIT workouts, where you’re enacting the afterburner effect to its fullest extent.
That’s something that helps you burn calories even after your workout is over, for extended periods of time. Archery can help you lose weight, but pay attention to the keyword.
Is Archery a Good Workout?
Yes, archery is a good workout, but it should not replace your trips to the gym.
It doesn’t provide a full-body workout, but it does affect core muscles, arm muscles, and build the ability to stabilize those muscles during other activities.
Similar to swimming, you’ll also notice an increase (though minor in comparison) to your lung capacity.
You’ll be holding your breath while you release your shot, and after a while of doing this, you’ll realize that you’ve been holding your breath for longer and longer.
It’s required to aim your shots and release that arrow with confidence; you don’t want to release on a shaky shot.
Is Archery Physically Demanding?
It can be, but it isn’t as physically demanding as a hundred-meter dash.
You will begin to feel soreness in your arms, core, and on your wrist after extended periods of time shooting at your targets.
However, we doubt that there will be any sore legs from walking to retrieve your arrows. Archery is not a full-body workout, but instead, it’s an upper-body workout.
You’ll find that archery can actually be pretty mentally draining though. It’s taxing on your mind because of all the calculations you’re constantly running for drop points, speed, and aiming among other things.
Does Archery Build Muscle?
Yes, it does!
Archery helps to build core muscles that affect your abdomen strength. While you aren’t going to get a six-pack from doing archery, those are the muscles that it works out.
You’re doing resistance training by firing at your targets from the pullback draw weight on your bow. You will also notice upper body muscles being built at the same time.
While it isn’t going to target your non-dominant arm, your dominant arm will have better muscle control going forward.
Archery also helps build small muscles that don’t get much attention, such as those that stabilize your wrist and elbow, and the rotator cuff in your shoulder.
Physical Fitness is but an Arrow Shot Away
Now that you know just what archery does for your upper body, mental health, and overall happiness, aren’t you pumped up enough to get out there and hit the targets straight away?
Just don’t be too eager and neglect some of the archery’s most important safety rules. While it is a calculated sport, it is one that.