Outdoor Sports and Body Mechanics
As physical therapists, we have conversations about posture and body mechanics all day long. Let’s face it, the last thing I want to think about when I hit the archery range is posture. I simply want to stack arrows on top of each other and try to shoot better than the day before. The harsh reality is posture is exceptionally important in the world of outdoors sports, and maybe none more important than archery. You see, the thing with archery is repetition, repetition, repetition. And if a new archer makes habits of poor body mechanics, he is sure to miss when the trophy white tail walks into view.
I’ve been working on posture with Adam Banks, the store manager and in house bow tech for Rhino’s Archery in Cannon Falls. Adam is an exceptionally knowledgable archer, focusing not only on the techniques of archery, but the importance of overall fitness and body mechanics to ensure success with the sport of archery.
Below, we will take a look at a few specific body mechanic considerations associated with archery. I was able to get Alec Reinhart, a bow hunting buddy of mine, to help with some photos.
The first component is foot position. The archer’s feet should be about shoulder width apart, with the rear foot set slightly behind the front foot. An arrow could be placed at the big toe of the forward foot, with the toes of the rear foot just approaching the arrow. This sets the correct offset to provide maximal stability when standing in a tree stand to take the shot. In the first picture, you’ll see that Alec’s feet are way out of position, also pointed forward. In the second photo, you’ll see Alec’s get properly positioned.
The second component is stance. As you’ll see from the views here, it is important to not be leaned forward or back, or cocking the head left or right. The correct setup is to draw the bow back, ensure the trunk is in an erect position without lean, and then turn your head to the left (for a Right handed shooter), get your sight on target, and the it fly. In the first picture, Alec is leaned much too far back. This will cause inconsistent shot placement. In the second picture, he has much more appropriate positioning.
The third component is knowing how to grip the bow. The hand around the bow should support the bow’s weight, but not be gripped tightly. This prevents what is called bow torque, or a twisting through the bow, which would throw the arrow left or right (off target). A loose grip will allow the shooter to keep the sight on target and ensure a good shot. In the first photo, Alec is gripping the bow much too tightly. This will cause inconsistent shot placement, as well as early onset hand fatigue. In the second photo, Alec is holding the bow with a loose grip, supporting its weight properly.
The final, and most important consideration is to work with a qualified bow technician. Just because your buddy shot at a deer once with his bow doesn’t qualify him as a good teacher. Find someone who knows how to shoot, but more importantly, how to help you shoot better. It will make your experience much more fun!
If you’re looking for some advice or information I’d suggest giving Rhino’s Archery in Cannon Falls a try. I’ve certainly enjoyed working with them.