Sign up for personal training / sports training by emailing cardiotrek@gmail.com.

How to become a professional archer faster and more efficiently

Q


"Hello Charles!

I saw you answer archery questions and I have one I am hoping you can answer.

I have been thinking of getting into competitive archery and I was wondering if there was any training techniques you would recommend in order to become a better archer that would allow me to progress faster than the Average Joe (or Jane in my case). Basically I want to stand out and I am looking for ways to do that via training.

Regards,
Angie B., North Dakota"

A

Hello Angie!

Actually there is many different ways to get a competitive edge through training, but what I am going to recommend is a comprehensive approach because your fellow competitors, if they are remotely serious, are probably doing at least 1 or 2 of these techniques.

My impression from what you are asking is that you want to really stand out from the other competitors, and that means doing a lot more than just a few techniques, but instead doing all of them in a more comprehensive manner.

The two most common things competitors do are:

#1. Practice Archery Regularly

Usually 3 to 4 times per week. For some archers this is often the only thing they do.

#2. Regular Non-Archery Exercise

This could be weightlifting, cardio, resistance exercises, yoga and a variety of other methods of improving strength, endurance, balance, posture and so forth. The problem with getting regular exercise is that many people in North America are loath to do it, so it makes sense that a country like South Korea (where regular exercise is more popular and people routinely go hiking in the mountains for the fun of it) wins roughly 75% of all medals at international competitions.

So right there, you can see that South Korea and similar countries where regular exercise is popular already has a distinct advantage that allows them to stand out.

Another problem with archers is that they often think "Practicing archery counts as exercise, so I don't need to do other kinds of exercise."

Thus many archers don't exercise outside of doing archery itself. Unfortunately a lack of comprehensive exercises results in muscle imbalances which actually hinder the archer's endurance and strength. So this idea that professional archers "only need archery to exercise" is a myth.



And now we get into the topics that most archers do NOT do, including so-called professionals.

#3. Comprehensive Exercises

So Regular Exercise and Comprehensive Exercises are two different things. One just means regular repetition adding up to a quantity of exercise. Comprehensive means that the exercises you are doing cover a broad range of topics for different purposes.

Above I mentioned the following types of exercises:

Cardio - Specifically things like jogging or swimming, your goal here is to boost endurance and your heart's strength. Your heart controls the blood flow to your lungs, your muscles, your brain... this increases endurance, strength, and reduces mental fatigue. You want to avoid exercises that focus too much on speed, like sprinting short distances. Jogging is more effective because it builds the heart muscles more.

Weightlifting and Resistance Exercises - Your goals here are to increase overall physical strength and endurance. This will have some effect on heart strength, but not in the same way that cardio does. This is why you need to do both. The weightlifting/resistance exercises need to be done slowly so that you can build endurance more efficiently. The beauty of this is that you can target specific muscles or muscle groups, but you also need to building the "whole set" so to speak. If you focus too much on building a single muscle, you won't achieve much results. That is why targeting muscle groups is more efficient, so that all the muscles build up cooperatively. Thus, you also need to be comprehensive in your approach and target all the muscle groups.

Imagine for a moment an archer who only targets their upper back muscles, and does nothing for their chest, shoulders, arms, lower back - clearly will get a few benefits from building up their back, but their back muscles eventually reach a point where it starts compensating for a lack of strength in other areas. This leads to other muscles becoming weaker and eventually a muscle imbalance develops. This can also lead to bad posture and a host of other problems.

Yoga - If you have never done yoga you will never know how tiring it is and how much it uses your own body weight to increase your strength, endurance, balance and posture. Think of the simple push up, which is a common old school exercise for building the muscles in, arms, shoulders, pectorals and upper back. It uses your body weight to create resistance. Yoga follows the same principle, but applies it to a multitude of other muscle groups. In my experience, people who do yoga regularly tend to do remarkably well at archery. (Yoga also has the added effect of boosting mental endurance. There are also Yogic breathing exercises which are handy for archers who want to learn to control their breathing while executing a shot.)

#4. Healthy Diet Habits

This is another thing many archers in North America don't take seriously (and another reason why countries like South Korea have a distinct advantage competitively).

Imagine two archers who do the same training regimen, but the only difference is that one archer has a typical North American diet and the other archer has a healthy diet which focuses on protein, vegetables, calcium, vitamins and nutrients. Which one do you think will have more strength, more endurance and a healthier balance of chemicals in their brain (which effects mental conditioning)?

The obvious answer is the archer with the healthy diet. And because many archers don't embrace a healthy diet, this is one definite way to get a competitive edge over the 90% of other archers who frankly probably have horrible dieting habits.

#5. Reading Books

Honestly, this is very important and I am going to recommend you read the first book most of all.

  • Precision Archery by Steve Ruis and Claudia Stevenson. Read the whole book, even the chapters you don't think will effect you. Just read it all.
  • The Unfettered Mind by Takuan Soho. This is a good introduction to mental conditioning. The book is actually a series of letters from a Buddhist monk to samurais of the time, and while he talks about swords the same advice also applies to mental conditioning for archers. (Do not read "Zen in the Art of Archery". That book is horrid.)
I have a book titled "High Performance Sports Conditioning", edited by Bill Foran, but I don't think it is still available. Instead I recommend finding a newer book on the same topic of Sports Conditioning. The book I have is basically a big 366 page textbook for athletes who want to do sports conditioning, so you need to be looking for the equivalent.

#6. Sports Conditioning and Training with a Coach

This is unfortunately where money comes into the equation.

Having a coach that can advise the athlete on training techniques, exercises, diet, mental preparedness for competitions... this gives the archer a distinct advantage. A good coach will challenge the archer in new ways that will keep their training regimen interesting, interactive and ever changing.

#7. Start Competing and Learning from the Competitive Experience

You probably won't do so well in the first so many competitions, but your goal here is not to win. It is to learn how to compete and start learning how your mind is effected by the challenges of competition.

I know first hand from competing that you can be winning and suddenly flub a shot or two close to the end because I was not mentally prepared for what to do if the wind suddenly picks up and I am getting tired of holding shots while trying to time the wind conditions. That really messes with your head, trying to time a shot in-between wind gusts while you are tired and you grow anxious... and before you know it, you are stressing out and mess up a shot or two because you are basically having an anxiety attack.

And that is what makes the difference between coming in first and coming in second. Stress and mental conditioning can make that tiny bit of difference on the score card.

The trick I think is to try and remember "It doesn't really matter. Just relax and shoot. Even if you miss, will it really make a big difference to the grand scheme of things?" Because it doesn't matter. Nobody ten years, a hundred years or a thousand years is going to care that you missed a shot.

But competing and learning how to accept that defeat when you almost won, and then learning from the experience will make you a stronger and more mentally prepared competitor in the long term.

#8. Practice in all Weather Conditions

If you practice even on the days when it is cold and rainy, the day will come when it rains during a competition and you will be mentally ready for it. The other archers might not be ready because maybe they never practiced in the rain. But you have, so that makes you the better archer when it comes to shooting in the slop.

Best of luck to you in your competitive career!

Sincerely,
Charles Moffat
CardioTrek.ca





No comments:

Post a Comment

Comments containing links will be marked as spam and not approved. We moderate every comment.

Looking to sign up for archery lessons, boxing lessons, swimming lessons, ice skating lessons or personal training sessions? Start by emailing cardiotrek@gmail.com and lets talk fitness!

Subscribe by Email

Followers

Popular Posts

Cardio Trek Posts