Return to shooting advice

We are getting closer to the time when we can get back out on to the range, and I can imagine people have been champing at the bit to get back to their favourite sport.
Rather than go at it like a bull in a china shop and head down to the range to shoot 6 dozen arrows at 70 metres, maybe we should sit back and have a think about what we have done in the last year.

What is your fitness level? Have you done any shooting practice at home? Have you been able to shoot in your garden? Have you been able to shoot at longer distances?
Let’s assume you have had no chance to practise while you’ve been under lockdown…

To get back to shooting, you are going to have to build up progressively to your competition bow weight. Always start off any practice session with a warm up to get the muscles going again, and always work within your fitness level. If you push too hard, you risk injury. An example of an archery warmup can be found here :

Step 1

Start with a light exercise band. Use the band to remind yourself of the actions you perform during the shot
process; standing on the line, raising the bow, drawing back, coming to full draw, .and release. It will probably
feel odd, using muscles you haven’t used for a while. Make sure that you are performing your shot routine as
you would at the range. If you are finding the elastic band too easy, you can change the resistance, either by shortening the band, or getting a band with greater resistance. If you increase the resistance, lower the
amount of repetitions you are performing. If you can, practise in front of a mirror for visual feedback, as this will let you see how you are doing.

Step 2

Move on to a lightweight bow, or to your competition bow, but with light limbs. Obviously, ensure that when you are practising, you are doing so safely. Practise your draw, etc, and if you can, practise your release, but don’t let go of the string when there is no arrow loaded. A FormMaster or similar device will help with this.
Gradually build up the amount of repetitions you can perform. To add resistance, tie an exercise band to the riser and the string. If you add resistance, lower the amount of repetitions you do. Practise drawing the bow under control at all times. If you are increasing draw weight, it is advisable to increase in increments of no more than 4 pounds at a time, to avoid risk of injury.

Step 3

Move on to your competition bow. If it is set at the highest weight setting, set it to its lowest, so that you can build up to your competition shooting weight. Take things gradually, build up the number of repetitions you can perform, adjust the bow weight, lower the number of repetitions you perform and so on, until you have reached your competition draw weight.
Now it is time to get out on the range, but even here, take things gradually.
If you have been shooting at home, it will have been at relatively short distances, and if you go straight up to 70 metres, you could spend more time picking arrows out of the ground than you do shooting.

Step 4

Shoot at a short distance, say 20 metres, and re-acquaint your body with the different shooting position. Shoot each arrow to the best of your ability, and aim for groups. When you feel comfortable with your grouping, move the target back to a longer distance, again shooting for groups, until you have reached your full distance.
All of the above will take time, but if you do not build up gradually to your full competition bow weight and shooting distances, you risk injury and being disillusioned.


Iain Wilson
Archery GB Senior Coach
March 2021