Get-n-Shape-art - 1/29/15
"Getting in Shape For Archery" by The Honorable Christophe of Grey.
This article was submitted to me by the author for inclusion in this set of files, called Stefan's Florilegium.
These files are available on the Internet at: http://www.florilegium.org
Copyright to the contents of this file remains with the author or translator.
While the author will likely give permission for this work to be reprinted in SCA type publications, please check with the author first or check for any permissions granted at the end of this file.
Mark S. Harris...AKA:..Stefan li Rous
stefan at florilegium.org
You can find more of this author's work on his website at:
This was published in August 2012 issue of THE KEY, the newsletter of the Canton of Middlegate.
Getting in Shape For Archery
by The Honorable Christophe of Grey
Well here's an article you would not expect to read in the SCA. No, this is NOT an article on how to sculpt the "body to be admired" or envied. You are on your own with that venture. This is an article on how to get in shape to shoot archery. Let's face it, pulling a 40 or more pound bow long enough to shoot a Royal Round is tiring. That would be 18 pulls at the static ends and possibly 7 – 10 more at the timed end. Do that four or five times in a day and you may be tired. So how do you get in shape?
First, a little history. Many years back there was a fund raising shoot at Pennsic. The objective was to shoot 100 arrows in one day. ALL of the Atlantian archers, who had already been shooting in that day, did the shoot, then went on to shoot some more that day. We in Atlantia love archery and shoot a lot! Not everybody did that. You may think of a word that starts with W and rhymes with blimp, but the point is getting in shape for archery and clearly not everyone on the range that day that signed up for the fund raising shoot were. Years back (not that many) when I started archery I could only shoot about 24 arrows then had to take a break. I started a workout program and now I can shoot any of my bows, I have 14, all day long and not feel tired. So how do you do that without joining a gym and paying lots of money? Simple and I will outline some basic, easy, home exercises that will definitely increase your archery fun.
We are talking about weight training here. If you can afford it, go to Walmart and get a set of the dumbells, 40 pounds. That will be enough for the exercises. If you need more weight you can buy more weights to add to your set. If you don't/can't spend the money use plastic one-gallon milk containers filled with water. Water weights 8 pounds per gallon. You could use sand or gravel or rocks if you would rather for a bit more weight.
The first exercise mimics the drawing action. Place one knee, let's say your left, on a chair or bench. In your right hand you hold the weight. Your right arm is extended full length. Raise your right arm to your shoulder, hold for a count of one and slowly lower to its original position. Do 15 – 20 repetitions. Do the same with your left arm. This is called one set. Do three sets. If you find you can do all 15 – 20 reps easily you need to add more weight. You should actually be straining to finish the final 5 reps on the last set when your weight is right. This exercise works you back muscles that are used to draw your bow and hold the draw.
Next is to build up your shoulders. Holding a weight in each hand, raise your hands from your sides to an upright position over your head but hold your arms straight as you do it. Kinda like you are flapping your arms to get attention. Hold in the upright position for a count of one then slowly lower to original position. Same weight/rep/set as above. Your shoulders are involved in the entire draw, anchor process.
The final archery exercise is to lay on your back with a weight in each hand, arms are fully extended upwards. Slowly lower your hands to your shoulders then raise back up to starting position. This exercise works not only your triceps, the back of your arms which hold your arm out while your bow is in full draw, but your chest muscles which assist in drawing and holding your bow. Same rep/set count as before.
Of course you can add more exercises to these for a more complete workout. What is critically important is to not go fast.
When working out you get the maximum benefit by going slowly and correctly through the exercises. Keep arms straight; go through the exercise as described. If you cheat you are only cheating yourself. As you get stronger you will find your archery improving because you can draw and hold your bow longer and more steady for a good aim and release. You may also need to increase the weight you are using for each exercise.
To add to the benefit of these exercises you should finish off each exercise session with a protein drink. The body uses protein to build muscle, what it doesn't use, it gets rid of.
Carbohydrates are stored by the body, i.e. fat, and are great for fast action needs, i.e. running. My favorite protein drink is milk, one scoop of protein powder and one tablespoon of peanut butter. Put it in a blender or shaker and it's highly palatable. If you want even more protein, add some kefir, watery yogurt. Good stuff. You can add a banana to the blender for an even more beneficial after workout drink. If you drink a protein drink after working out you will NOT feel stiff and sore the next day.
If you don't want to go the route of a protein drink, drink a glass of chocolate milk. Yes, Virginia, chocolate milk. It will help your body repair the damage working out does, which causes your body to get stronger. You should workout every other day. The in-between days allow your body to repair and build up the muscle the exercises broke down. Working out every day actually tears down muscles.
None of this is designed to condition us to shoot a true war bow with a draw weight of 100 – 190 pounds. There simply is no reason to shoot a bow of that poundage in the SCA. The farthest you will shoot at any event/war is 100 yards. SAAD may require you to shoot 135 yards. But any 30 pound bow set up correctly can fling an arrow that distance. But if you adopt this simple suggested workout routine you WILL find your Royal Round scores improving and your general archery improving.
As said before, archery is a physical activity that requires muscles. Work those muscles and get them in shape and you will be more successful and have more fun.
THL Christophe of Grey
Copyright 2014 by John Atkins. <cogworks at triad.rr.com>. Permission is granted for republication in SCA-related publications, provided the author is credited. Addresses change, but a reasonable attempt should be made to ensure that the author is notified of the publication and if possible receives a copy.
If this article is reprinted in a publication, please place a notice in the publication that you found this article in the Florilegium. I would also appreciate an email to myself, so that I can track which articles are being reprinted. Thanks. -Stefan.