Shooting arrows through a target can be therapeutic. Not only archery is a great hobby, it has many physical and mental health benefits.
Just the shear act of focusing on the target, exercises your mental faculties such as concentration, self-control, and will power.
While you fuel your passions with a mindful session of archery, you reap many other benefits. Let’s look at some of the ways archery might be helping you.
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1. How Can Archery Benefit Your Health?
1.1 Can Archery Make Me Fit?
Archery is a physical sport, and like every other physical sport, you will get some exercise from it.
The act of shooting a bow is a complex exercise which requires many different muscle groups in your body to function in tandem with each other, especially your upper body muscles.
Strength is required to pull back the string and hold it while aiming at the target. It creates a fair amount of tension in muscles of your back, biceps, chest, abs and lower back.
When you let go of the string, you release that tension as well. This act of compressing and relaxing your muscles is very similar to when you are lifting weights in the gym.
Furthermore, to properly execute a shot, you need to fully utilize your shoulder muscles, giving you a very well-defined upper body structure and posture over time.
The act of walking to-and-fro from the target to your shooting position itself is a good workout. If you are doing it, say, even 5 times per session, you will be burning quite some calories.
With a lot of pulling and repetition going into every archery session, you will see increase in your strength, durability, and flexibility, while also burn some serious number of calories.
All in all, if you are practicing archery even a couple of times a week, you shall be getting a very nice workout. In long run, you will be much fitter if you practice archery.
1.1.1 Can Archery Help Me Lose Weight?
Archery is a moderate paced physical activity, with a lot of strength-training-like movements involved.
Arguably, strength training is a superior form of exercise to lose weight because it builds muscles, and thus there is a longer duration of after-burn and fat loss in the process.
When you do archery, your whole upper body is working out. According to Harvard University, 30 minutes of archery practice can help you lose 100-140 calories with respect to your body weight which is the same as any other workout done for fitness purposes.
But the beauty of strength training like exercises is that you even lose weight after you have finished actively exercising. This passive weight loss produces much larger effect on you in the long run.
In short, if you are regularly practicing archery, you will see some decent results with your weight loss.
1.1.2 Can Archery Help Me Build Muscles?
Archery is strength-based activity with lots of heavy pulling and releasing. Muscles grow with lots of contraction and relaxation, which is exactly the motion you do repeatedly in archery.
Muscles grow when tension is applied to them. Shooting for a long period of time makes the muscles stronger, and gain volume & density.
If you are consistent with archery, you will see your muscles growing within weeks.
1.1.3 Can Archery Improve My Posture?
One of the most important muscle groups you will be using in archery are your back muscles. Back muscles are directly linked to good posture.
If you are doing things right, most of the brunt of the archery shall be going towards your back. Archery is an excellent back exercise, and thus improves & conditions your back muscles quite a bit.
Overtime, you will notice considerable improvement in your posture.
1.1.4 Can Archery Improve My Eyesight?
Archery is a great workout for your eyes too. Various components of archery put different demands on your eyesight, which leads to your eyes working out in a way.
Let’s look at some of the things you do with your eyes when you practice archery, which is also recommended as good eye exercise by doctors around the world:
- You switch your focus repeatedly from your bow/sight to the target
- You follow a moving object (arrow in this case)
- You strain/focus your eyes to look at things very close to you (arrow, bowsight), and very far from you (target)
Any part of your body improves its function when it is used in variety of ways. For example, lungs of swimmers and mountain climbers have much greater capacity than regular people.
Using your eyes to do variety of fine things frequently leads to a great workout for your eyes, and in long run, your eyes will stay healthy and you may even notice some significant improvement in your eyesight.
1.2 What Are The Other Health Benefits Of Archery?
Every sport is unique and has its own benefits when it comes to physical and mental health.
Some people join archery so that they can enjoy these benefits which makes them healthier in long run. Some of the health benefits are mentioned below:
- IMPROVES HAND-EYE COORDINATION: – Archery is technically all about hand-eye coordination. The better coordination an archer has, the better the accuracy. The feedback received from your eyes trains your hands to shoot better.
- IMPROVES FOCUS: – Archery requires a lot of focus to hit the target accurately. Entire focus should be on the target while ignoring any distractions. Archery trains your focus. With enough practice, you will be able to focus on things much faster and easier.
- BUILDS STRENGTH: – Muscles strengthen when you apply a lot of force to pull heavy things towards you and then relax your muscles thereafter. While pulling the strings the muscles go through tension which strengthens them. Keep on repeating this process enough, and should see considerable your muscles strengthening with time.
- MAKES YOU PATIENT: – To hit the target you need to have a lot of patience, especially if you are a bowhunter. Archery is easy yet difficult. Patience, like any other muscle, grows with practice.
- BODY BALANCE: – Archery helps in maintaining body balance as you aim and try to hit the bull’s eye. More the practice, more the core muscles become used to keeping you steady and keeping your body balanced.
2. Can Archery Cause Harm To My Health?
According to recent National Safety Council statistics, archery is more than three times safer than golf, with just one injury for every 2000 participants.
Archery doesn’t cause any serious injury; however, shoulder injuries are fairly common. Bows are heavy, and after pulling the strings you need to hold it for a while, which puts a lot of strain on your shoulder.
The rotator cuff in your shoulder, which is responsible for pulling the string, has to rotate outwards and hold a lot of weight. While the other rotator cuff, which responsible for holding the bow, has to resist being crushed inwards by the weight.
With this kind of strain on two of the crucial joins, there is a high chance of injury in the shoulder.
2.1 Can Archery Cause Tennis Elbow?
Tennis elbow is not very common; however, it can happen, especially if you are getting back to archery after a long break.
If you are using a very high draw weight, or if your bow transfers a good amount of shock.
Tennis elbow is a condition when pain occurs on the outside of the elbow. This happens due to micro tears and inflammation in the elbow area. Here are some of the ways to minimize and mitigate tennis elbow for archers:
- Take a break. This will give time for muscles to heal and strengthen.
- Lower the draw weight. This will allow your muscles to build up gradually and lessen the load they have to bear.
- Using vibration dampeners on your bow. This helps in lowering the vibrations transferring to your hand, and thus minimizing the risk of tennis elbow.
- Use elbow guard. The compression from elbow guards help in supporting your muscles and keeping them in right form/shape while you are putting load on them.
Tennis elbow is fairly common in various other sports and activities. However, it can be easily solved if taken care of early on.
If the condition worsens, then you may have to go for physiotherapy, and in worse case scenario, go for a surgery.
This is by no means a medical advice. We would highly encourage you to consult with your doctor in case you encounter any medical condition while practicing archery.
2.2 Can Archery Cause Scoliosis?
I am not a doctor, and everything presented in this section is based on the research on the topic. Please do take medical advice from a doctor in case you have any health issues while practicing archery.
There is no evidence, case, research, or study to prove that archery can cause scoliosis.
In fact, if you have scoliosis, archery may not have any adverse effects IF practiced safely. Athletics of most kind are recommended for people with scoliosis.
However, any activity that is highly repetitive in nature, which has sudden movements, and causes imbalance to your posture can adversely affect people with scoliosis.
Patients should also ensure that any activity they are doing do not compress the spine, hyperextend the mid back, or unevenly work the spine.
Archery does not usually contain any of these if you are practicing with the correct form and technique.
2.3 Can Archery Hurt Your Back?
With any physical sport, there is always some chance of injury to the muscle groups that are frequently used.
However, if an archer is practicing with correct form and technique, there is little to no chance of injury.
After all, humans have been doing archery for thousands of years. There have been millions of people who have safely practiced archery throughout their lives without any issues.
3. Can Archery Be Self-Taught?
Any sport can be learnt to some extent if ample information and knowledge is given about it.
Archery can be self-taught, and there are lots of resources available online, like YouTube and Google, that may provide you with a lot of information and how-to’s to correctly shoot a bow.
However, the downside of this approach is that if you are making a mistake, you may not be able to correct it because you may not realize you are doing something wrong.
An instructor or a professional can provide you with an external viewpoint, and thus correct some of your form faults that you are not able to find yourself.
Our article on Archery for beginners in 3 easy steps, and How to shoot a compound bow and arrow within 1 hour will walk you through step-by-step process to safely get you started with archery.
4. WHAT CAN ARCHERY TEACH YOU?
Archery teaches you to stay calm and patient. It keeps you fit and increase the mental stability. Here are some of the other things that archery teaches you:
- PHYSICAL DEVELOPMENT
Archery helps in physical development of the body. It increases the muscles and improves fitness of the body. It corrects the posture of the body as well.
- IMPROVES MENTAL TOUGHNESS
Mental toughness includes focus, patience and perseverance. Archery teaches you all of the three.
Archery requires you to focus on the target.
It teaches you importance of timing your shots right, which often includes waiting patiently for circumstances to be in your favor.
It also is teaches you perseverance when you have to try repeatedly, even after failing, to keep going on to hit the target.
Patience, focus and perseverance are necessary ingredients to achieving goals.
- BOASTS SELF-CONFIDENCE
Archery builds self-confidence. When you shoot and you reach the target your confidence level increases.
When you hit the bullseye, you get a sense of achievement; a small victory for yourself. It adds up over time, providing boost to your self-confidence.
- TEACHES GOAL-SETTING
No one start hitting bullseye the first time they pick up the bow. It is a gradual process.
You start small, with lower draw weight, bigger target face, and less distance from the target. You set small goals to get better at your current level, and then gradually increase the difficulty level for yourself.
With archery, you get a measurable progress, a roadmap, and a target to achieve.
All the archers who have ever lived have set tiny goals for themselves, and improved over time by achieving them.
Last but not the least, archery is great for de-stressing. This is one of the common features between golf and archery.
Archery helps you de-stress and helps you relax. It has a therapeutic and meditative effect on your psyche. After some time of focusing on shooting arrows, you forget the worldly worries and learn to let go.
In our stressful lives, this is one of the most important benefit anyone can reap while having tons of fun.
Now you know many of the hidden benefits of archery.
With the advent of modern firearms, archery has been sidelined a lot; however, it still retains its relevance in the modern times due to many of the physical and mental benefits it provides.
Furthermore, archery is an art and science in one. It is fun to shoot arrows, and after some time, you start gaining a lot out of it.
But regardless of the style of archery and environment you are using to practice archery, ensure to take proper safety measures.
And last but not the least, have fun!
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Hi, I’m Vineet. Creator of DivinioWorld. I am an outdoor enthusiast and absolutely love researching, learning, and applying skills and knowledge in the real world. I started DivinioWorld to share everything I know so that even a beginner can follow the ropes and master the subtle art of outdoors adventure and survival.