Dear Writing Huntress,
I’ve been bow hunting with a youth bow for the past 2 seasons, because my upper body strength couldn’t handle a full-sized bow when I first started shooting archery. I’m interested in buying a new bow for the upcoming season. I want a full-sized bow that draws back more than 30 pounds, but I don’t know where to start. HELP!
Spaghetti Arms in Spokane
Dear Linguini Limbs,
I, much like you, started shooting a youth bow when I began my archery adventure. For me, it was the best option not only financially (as youth bows tend to be cheaper,) but also physically.
Ice hockey was the whole of my existence for my childhood, adolescence and college years. My gluteus maximus had its own area code; the rest of my body followed suit. However, I stopped playing shortly after my college days ceased. I entered the land of day jobs and the real world; thus, my body regressed into pre-puck playing days, a fact that shone none too brightly on my future bowhunting conquests.
When I bought my Bear youth bow, I was ecstatic, but also a tad downtrodden. I couldn’t pull back the amount of weight that I thought I could. Not to be outdone by an inanimate bundle of stick and string, I began working out.
After a solid summer of training, I was able to work my way up to a 40-to-50 pound Hoyt Maxxis 32, a splendid bow that I shoot effortlessly, thanks to the Writing Huntress’ Four Ps of Bowhunting Training.
Upper-body strength is key when beginning a training regimen focused on bowhunting, because your back and arm muscles are those you’ll depend on when a monster buck meanders past your tree stand. Realizing this, I began simply: with push-ups*.
Understanding this was a marathon, not a sprint, I began slowly with a few push-ups in the morning and before bed in the evening. The modest sum grew substantially as the days passed to the point that regular push-ups no longer induced heavy-panting or lengthy floor naps immediately following. So, I decided to visit the gym.
Pointers from the Pros
I’ve always been a lone wolf when it came to gym visits. I’d go in, do whatever hockey dry land practices I could remember, go for a jog, prance around in front of the mirror like a deranged antelope, then sit in the sauna for as long as possible (hoping the warm air would force fat cells to retreat from my body, thus allowing me to leave early). However, during my bout of bowhunting training, I was forced to join the pack.
The personal trainer I was assigned hunted and even shot archery extensively. After conversing at length about hunting, we got down to the business of proper archery training. He forced me to use new machines at the gym and showed me the proper technique for exercises to do at home.
He also impressed the importance of stretching before and after each training session, something that I had neglected previously. The nice, muscle-bound trainer was quick to remind me as I catapulted out the door that repeating an action ceaselessly tends to lead to perfection.
A famous fish once said, “Just keep swimming. Just keep swimming.”
A not-so-famous huntress now says, “Just keep shooting. Just keep shooting.”
If you’re like me, you’ll follow this adage until you want to tackle that stupid deer archery target to the ground and beat it senselessly with a sharp broadhead until it ceases looking at you in that “I’m still alive and there’s nothing you can do about it” way. But, restrain — for there are other ways to hone your shooting skills!
Break the tedium of shooting by visiting local archery ranges or courses. These may seem daunting at first, but once you get used to shooting longer distances at different targets, the challenge will be more fun than scary.
Personally, I switched my training routine up by bowfishing. My Bear bow with its short draw length and low poundage was perfect for a night on the boat, shooting monster carp. The repetition, combined with marksmanship and hours spent shooting, resulted in an amazing training session aside from those of the usual backyard setting.
The process you’re about to undertake is a big step and takes a lot — a whole ark-full of patience. You will get frustrated and there will be days when you will want to quit. However, in the long run, when you finally pull back your new bow with ease at the sight of a buck of a lifetime, the months of training will be worth it.
*DO NOT start a training routine without consulting with a physician first.
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