How to Develop a Personal Archery Training Program


Do You Have a Routine Practice Regimen?

Build Strength

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1 | Build Strength

Maintaining and building physical strength is a key component to nearly any training program. Archery is by and large a mental game, but the physical components of the discipline are equally as important. When looking at workout exercises that are most beneficial to archers and bowhunters, focus on movements that target the shoulders, back and core muscles. Shoulder strength aids in the draw cycle and can allow you to pull your bow easier or increase draw weight. The large muscles in the upper and middle areas of the back are critical to holding the bow at full draw and proper shot execution. Core muscles are one of the most overlooked, yet most important muscle groups to archery.

These muscles provide a solid foundation for shooting posture and stability throughout the entire shot process. When exercising with an archery focus, don’t worry about building muscle mass with heavy weight. Instead, concentrate on using higher reps with lighter weights and slow, controlled movements.

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Blind-Bale Shooting

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2 | Blind-Bale Shooting

Proper shot execution is one of the most important components of consistent accuracy and also an area of archery that people struggle with regularly. Just as trigger control plays a significant role in firearm marksmanship, a clean release is vital in archery. The vast majority of bowhunters suffer from target panic and many don’t even realize it. Target panic manifests itself as a manipulation of the release aid that causes the release to fire on command. Shooting in this fashion is commonly known as punching the trigger.

Blind-bale practice can be used to identify and resolve target panic and it doesn’t require a special setup to do so. At close range, typically around 5 yards from the target, draw your bow and settle your pin in the center of the target face. With the pin on target, close your eye and begin to apply pressure to the trigger. Using the large muscle in your back, pull through the shot until the release fires. This is a very minor movement. If you feel that you’re having to pull extremely hard to break the shot off, or can’t get the shot to fire by pulling, you likely need to increase initial pressure applied to the trigger of the release. Taking several blind-bale shots as your only practice routine for a week or so should begin to ingrain proper shot execution into muscle memory. Even after overcoming target panic, including blind bale shooting into your practice regiment on a regular basis will help to keep your skills in check.

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Just Aim

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3 | Just Aim

This practice exercise can help archers and bowhunters of all skill levels shoot better and is another tool that can be used to identify target panic. All you need to get started is a target with a finite aiming point. Standing 30 to 40 yards from the target, draw your bow and settle into your anchor point. Focusing on a fine spot on the target, simply aim until your muscles begin to fatigue and the shot starts to break down. Let the bowstring down, and don’t fire a shot.

Go through this process repeatedly until you become tired and continue to do so each day for at least a week. Don’t ever release an arrow. Just aim. Remember to let the pin float on your point of aim. Trying to hold the pin exactly on the spot you’re aiming at will only cause you to become more unstable. This exercise may not be flashy and can become monotonous, but its benefits can help you make strides toward becoming a better archer and bowhunter.

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Extend Practice Range

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4 | Extend Practice Range

Advances in bows, sight designs and arrows have made it possible for more bowhunters and archery enthusiasts to shoot at greater distances than ever before. How far is too far to take a shot when hunting is a widely debated topic. But in a practice session, there are far fewer issues with taking long shots. Stretching out shot distance when practicing can be a lot of fun, but it can also be a great tool for improving archery skills, increasing accuracy, and building confidence.

As shot distance increases, errors in form become far more apparent. For example, torque influenced into the bow through the grip may not be noticeable at 20 or 30 yards. But when the range is extended to 60 yards, this issue can become very apparent. Longer-range practice can also reveal tuning issues in your setup that can come into play when it’s time to tune broadheads. Extending the distance between your sight pin and the target face creates a need for more precise aiming and focus. These attributes along with the other benefits gained from shooting at greater distances carry over to shooting at close range. You may be able to shoot proficiently at shorter distances right now. But practicing at longer ranges can help you shrink your group size at all distances and possibly extend your effective range.

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Challenge Yourself

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5 | Challenge Yourself

Any training program focused on improving a skillset requires pushing yourself outside your comfort zone. Extending your practice range certainly plays into this, but there are other ways you can keep pushing to become a better archer and bowhunter. Shooting 3D archery is a great way to do this. 3D courses provide a practice environment that more closely emulates hunting situations when compared to shooting in the backyard.

They can also be great learning tools if you approach them as such. Shooting a 3D course without the aid of a rangefinder forces shooters to judge shot distances. This skill has somewhat became a lost art as a result of technology; but it’s still a critical component of being an effective archer and bowhunter. Shooting with an elevated heart rate is another good way to push your limits and be better prepared for shot opportunities while hunting. Running a short wind sprint or doing a few jumping jacks and then taking a shot will cause you to focus and execute the shot when your body is ramped up. Anyway that you push yourself will help you perform better.

Using these drills and exercises to structure your own archery training program will help you to become a better archer and bowhunter. Implementing a few of these throughout your practice regimen and regularly practicing and training throughout the year doesn’t require a huge undertaking, but simply a mindful decision toward improving your skills.

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Routine practice and focused training are must-haves to perform your best in any discipline. Archery and bowhunting are no exception. No matter how long a person has been shooting, there is always room for improvement. Developing a personal training program focused around archery and personal shortcomings can help you shoot better and perform at a higher level while in the field. Here we’ll explore a handful of training components that can be used to put together your own training program.