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Bow Shoulder Fatigue in Archery

If you have been shooting for a long time and start getting tired you will start to experience fatigue in your bow shoulder which will cause inconsistent shots.

When your shoulder gets tired your arrows will start making lines on the target - often perfectly straight diagonal lines like the image below.  The shots below were performed by a student on June 2nd and I felt it was such a perfect example of shoulder fatigue that it deserved a photo.


What is happening in the photo above is the person is making almost no mistakes and the only problem they are experiencing is shoulder fatigue - and possibly inconsistent full draw.

This means the way to correct this problem is two fold:

#1. Take a break and relax. Your shoulder needs some time to recuperate.

#2. When shooting try to perfect your full draw so you are using more back muscles on your upper back (rhomboids) and less shoulder muscles (deltoids). Your back muscles should be tense and your bow shoulder should be relatively relaxed. (If you are unclear about the anatomical terms for muscles see Anatomical Terms for Athletes.)

Having stronger shoulder muscles does help, but it is not a cure. Ideally you need to be using your back muscles to be pulling the bow and stronger back muscles will do the most to help steady the bow. Thus if you are encountering this problem regularly you may want to consider regular exercises designed to make your rhomboids stronger (and to a lesser extent, stronger deltoids).

Pushups are a good example of an exercise that will target both your rhomboids and deltoids (and as a bonus, your triceps and pecs).

If you have dumbbells handy you can also do the exercise below to help strengthen the appropriate muscles. Like pushups, the exercise below will also target your rhomboids, deltoids and triceps. Because you are leaning forward it will also target your lower back too (traps).


If you are making no mistakes at all, you are not fatigued, and the wind is not a factor (low and steady wind) then you should be getting super tight clusters of arrows. Or even better, split your own arrow.

Want to perfect your archery form? Sign up for archery lessons in Toronto. Or keep reading my free archery tips.


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