What Are the Health Benefits of Archery?
Though archery is often perceived as a stationary sport, competitive archers actually require a significant amount of strength, endurance and focus to perform well. If you aren’t familiar with the demands of the sport then you may be surprised to learn that there are several health benefits to participating in archery. In addition to physical benefits, archery can improve your mental health as well.
Upper Body Strength
Drawing a bow string places stress on the muscles of both arms as well as the chest, shoulders and back. Similar to lifting weights, this stress is typically maintained for several seconds before the archer releases the string to fire an arrow. With repetition, the stress of drawing and firing a bow leads to muscle development in most of the major muscle groups of the upper body. The specific amount of development depends on both the draw strength of the bow and the amount of time that you spend practicing and competing.
Balance is vital to success in archery as you have to be able to hold your body still while aiming and making a shot. Practicing archery helps you to gain control over your balance as you focus on trying to hit the center of the targets you shoot at. The more you practice, the more your core muscles will become accustomed to balancing your body and keeping you steady as you aim and fire your arrow.
Hand-eye coordination is an essential skill for archery. Archery trains your hands to work together while performing different tasks, aiming and firing your arrow based on input from your eyes. The more you practice, the better your coordination will become. This increase in coordination will result in better aiming of your bow and will help you in other sports and activities that use the hands as well.
During a competition, archers can walk as much as 5 miles while performing common tasks at the archery range and moving from one position to another. Though much of this walking is in short intervals, the cumulative effect of walking throughout a competition can improve cardiovascular health, muscle tone and leg strength. You will gain some of these benefits even during practice as you’ll spend a significant amount of time walking to retrieve fired arrows and returning to the line.
Focus is important to success as an archer, and developing focus can have a positive impact on your mental health and wellbeing. The more focused you are on your target, the easier it will be for you to clear your mind and aim precisely both in practice and in competitions. These same skills will help you to deal with stress and clear your mind of worry when you’re away from the archery range and will help you to remain more focused on tasks as well. The focus you learn from archery may even help you to overcome procrastination and distraction.
Archery is a physically demanding sport and the demands of archery are often underestimated by those who don’t participate. Consult your doctor or a personal trainer before taking up archery to make sure that you are in good enough shape to participate safely and to check for medical conditions that may cause problems when drawing a bow and firing an arrow.
Wear safety equipment such as arm guards, finger guards and a chest guard to protect yourself from being hit by the bow string and other injuries. Learn proper archery form and techniques from a qualified instructor to reduce your likelihood of injuries while drawing and shooting and to keep others safe as well. If you experience sharp or sudden pain in the shoulders, arms, elbows, chest or back stop as soon as you safely can to prevent muscle injury.
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