Archery is generally accepted to be one of the safest sports around. According to studies done by the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System, or NEISS, archery is somewhat less dangerous than golf or fishing, yet slightly more dangerous than bowling and scuba diving. However, for serious athletes and competitive archers, over training poses a serious threat to your ability to keep competing. Here are 4 ways you can prevent archery training injuries.
1. Be Gentle With Yourself
Many beginner archers, particularly men, feel a strong desire to be good at the sport right away. As a result, they often sacrifice proper technique for brute strength or endurance. While this might allow you to pull of an impressive shot in the short run, in the long run, it is a surefire way to injure your shoulder, arm or back. Since you usually take a break in between each arrow, we may not feel a strained muscle into days later.
To put it simply, consistency and quality of training is far better than quantity. If you were to shoot 100 arrows in a day, you would likely see little improvement to your shot. However, if you shoot 10-20 arrows a day for 3 months, you are providing your body with the appropriate amount of work, and especially rest, to improve your skill.
2. Get Equipment That Fits
Another common way beginner archers develop injuries is to use equipment that does not appropriately fit their body. This means using a bow that is too big, too small, or more importantly too heavy. For a bow hunter, it is important to use a heavy-weighted bow to ensure a clean kill, but practicing with a bow that is far heavier than you can comfortably draw is almost guaranteeing injury. Choose a bow that you can draw easily 20 times in a row.
3. Cross Training
As you may have guessed, while archery is a great exercise for the mind and upper body, it is not meant to cover your total fitness platform. It is important that you perform other types of exercise to improve your shooting skill and to prevent muscle imbalances if your shooting arm and shoulder are getting far stronger than your bow shoulder.
Swimming, rowing, and other types of cardio help improve your breathing, and work both sides of the body evenly. Weightlifting, body weight resistance exercises and yoga are also great additions to your total fitness routine.
4. Warm Up and Cool Down
One of the biggest mistakes you can make is to train with cold muscles. Failing to pump blood into the muscles before training can lead to strains, tears, and inflammation of the connective tissue in the shoulder joint and spine. Use resistance bands and gentle stretching to warm up your body before training and cool down afterwards.