When people think of archery, they often think of a very static sport. Indeed archery is quite a static sport, it’s not a cardio sport like running or many ball games. Since you are mainly standing still during an archery session, you don’t really use your leg muscles that much. You do, however, use a lot of upper body muscles, therefore many people wonder whether it’s necessary to warm up these muscles before you start shooting arrows. I have to nuance a lot during this article, but I know some people are just looking for a short answer. Therefore I will quickly summarize this article:
If you are new to archery, it is very important to warm up before shooting. More experienced archers often skip the warming up, since their muscles are more developed and can therefore withstand more abuse. You should, however, never shoot to many arrow in a short time-frame, when you are just warming up.
In the remainder of this article I will discuss this question in a lot more detail. Therefore, I will give you a more nuanced answer on whether you should do a warming up or not. If you are wondering whether you need to do a warming up, I would highly recommend to keep reading. I will also discuss my own experience with warming ups.
Why archery coaches recommend doing a warming up
In basically every sport, coaches recommend doing a warming up. The main reason being that it prepares your muscles for extreme load they will experience while exercising. The same is true for archery. Although you won’t get exhausted from archery, your muscles in your upper body will be under a lot of strain. After a good archery training session, you should feel that your arm and upper back muscles are a bit sore. This isn’t a sign that you trained your muscles, which stimulates muscle growth.
When you do start shooting without doing a proper warming up, your body will not be ready to bear the heavy draw weight. Doing a proper warming up doesn’t only increase your muscle and blood temperature it also increases blood flow. This helps your muscles to get ready to perform. Therefore, most archery coaches include some type of warming up into their training program. This sometimes includes stretching your arms, doing a few exercises or drawing the bow halfway.
Why most experienced archers drop the warming up
Most archers only follow a training program for the first few weeks when they are learning archery. When they have bought their own bow, train on their own. Most archers I know continued doing the warming up for a few weeks, but most dropped it quite fast. To be honest I stopped doing the warming up as soon as I finished the training program. I now only do a warming up if I am shooting at a heavier draw weight than normal.
The reason why so many archers drop the warming up is because they notice that they don’t really need it. If you have a bow that has the right draw weight corresponding with your strength, you shouldn’t experience any issues. Most archers use the first few arrows as a warming up. I for example always start to shoot 3 arrows for the first few rounds, while taking larger breaks than normal in between. Later in the training session I switch to 5 arrows.
So, should you do a warming up. A warming up is never harmful, therefore it’s a best practice especially if you are new to the sport. Archery is extremely strenuous for your muscles in the upper body. Therefore, I would absolutely recommend doing a warming up if you are shooting for the first few times.
More experienced archers can often just experiment to find out what works for them. Serious muscle injuries are very uncommon in archery. If your muscles are getting really tired, you won’t be able to hold the bow still. This makes sure that you don’t continue if your muscles are too tired. Therefore, most archers quit, before they can actually cause any harm. But of course, you should always stop if you feel serious pain.
So, for experienced archers, there is no clear-cut answer. You can just try to skip the warming up for a training session and see if you experience any difference. If you notice that your muscles are getting tired, or if you experience more muscle strain than normal, you know that you should do a warming up. Although I never do a warming up before shooting. I often do a few exercises between shots. Your muscles tend to stiffen due to the tension of the bow. A few warming up exercises can really help making your muscles feel more flexible.
Warming-up exercises for archery
There are a lot of warm-up routines available on the internet. If you google ‘’archery warm-up’’ you will find a lot of different exercises and routines. In general, a warmup of about 5 to 10 minutes should be enough. Some archers also warm up their lower body, but I don’t think that is necessary. Below I will discuss some of my favorite exercises. These are excellent as a warming up or to loosen up your muscles between shots.
Forward arm swings
Stand with your arms spread on shoulder level. Swing your arms forward until your elbows meet each other at te front. Bend your arms in a 90-degree angle when you are in the forward position. Swing your arms back to the backwards position and make sure to tension your back muscles. Your arms should swing behind your shoulders. Repeat this exercise about 8 to 12 times, you should be able to feel that both your shoulder and arm muscles are getting warm.
This is an excellent exercise if you feel that your shoulders and back are getting stiff. Start with your shoulders in an upright position and turn your shoulders first clockwise for 5 repetitions. When finished, turn your shoulders 5 repetitions anticlockwise. You should feel that your shoulder and back muscles are getting more flexible.
Begin this exercise with your shoulders level but bent forward, like you are picking something up. Stay upright and keep your shoulders level, during this exercise. Move your shoulders back as far as you can and return to the forward position. Repeat this exercise about 8 times. By both stretching and tensioning your shoulder muscles you will warm up these muscles very fast.
World archery’s warming up program
If you are looking for some additional warming up exercises, I would recommend watching the following video from world archery.
Whether you decide to do a warming up or not, it is always good to have some exercises that allow you to relax your muscles. During an archery training, your muscles will start to get stiff which will result in muscle fatigue. Therefore, a lot of archers do a few exercises between shots. I often see this even in archery competitions where the number of arrows shot is lower than in a typical training.
If you experience any issues with muscle fatigue, you might have to additionally train your muscles. I have dedicated a full article on how you can train your back muscles for archery. I would highly recommend reading that article if you have an issue with muscle fatigue or if you want to increase your draw weight:
‘’How to train your back muscles for archery?’’
If you have any suggestions, comments or questions, please leave them down below. I will respond as soon as possible.