Strengthening and Conditioning for Archery and Bowhunting

As many of us are surviving the heat and doldrums of late Summer, lamenting (or celebrating) the return to school  and the impending cold weather of “Winter in the Midwest”… Many of us are also thinking about the excitement of that trophy buck – or our first deer – and being in the woods once again this fall. We plant food plots and plan tree stand placement, maybe re-string our bow. But have you thought about also preparing your body for the fall deer season?

Whether shooting a recurve, a long bow or a compound bow it takes a fair amount of upper body strength to pull the bow back, hold at full draw and wait for the exact moment. Hunting and target shooting with a bow can be a wonderful experience. It takes skill, patience, and often good ol’ luck! By practicing your draw and properly strengthening a few specific muscles of the shoulders and arms, you can certainly increase your skill, confidence, and draw weight.


Drawing and holding a bow requires muscle recruitment of the entire upper arm, shoulder, back and periscapular area. The act of drawing a bow requires the recruitment of all four rotator cuff muscles, biceps, posterior deltoid, latissimus dorsi, trapezius, and rhomboids. Holding a bow at full draw requires recruitment from the anterior deltoids, pectorals, brachioradialis, and triceps.

Physical therapists are experts in all things movement, mobility, and strength. Depending where you are struggling in the drawing process would depend on the exercises that you focus on.

Your Axes Physical Therapists have put together a list of mobility and strengthening exercises that encompass all of the muscle groups that were discussed above:

  1. Bow Draw with resistive tubing or resistive band
  2. ATYT
  3. Thera Band Rows
  4. Banded Shoulder Extension
  5. Thera Band Bicep Curl
  6. Thera Band Triceps Extension
  7. Resistance Band Standing External Rotation at 90 Degrees
  8. Shoulder Internal Rotation 
  9. Thera Band Chest Fly

Physical Therapist recommended mobility exercises to improve bow draw:

  1. Active Pec Stretch with Foam Roller
  2. Active Pec and Chest Stretch with Foam Roller
  3. Standing Shoulder Flexion
  4. Doorway Pec Stretch

And for good measure… here is a very helpful article on tree stand safety. 🙂

Seasoned hunter or new to the sport? If you could use a little more strength and conditioning or have a nagging pain, Axes physical therapists here to help make sure you are the strongest you can be all season long. Get strong, practice, and good luck! 

Hunting Strengthening and Mobility St. Louis | Pain Management | Occupational and Physical Therapists Near Me

To schedule an appointment with Brad, TJ, or any of our expert therapists, request an appointment online today!