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Thread: Ways to strengthen and increase draw weight?

  1. #1
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    Ways to strengthen and increase draw weight?

    Hello folks,
    I have been a rifle girl for a long time...and just got my first compound bow a few weeks ago. I am already hooked! We practice some literally every day. My draw length is 28" and I started out with 30# draw weight. We have turned it up to 36# and it feels pretty good (not much different than 30 I know). I can maintain proper form and shoot for a good set of practice without tiring. Technically I'm legal to hunt deer here at that DW 35# is minimum here...(and of course my longer DL helps in the kinetic energy department) But I'd like to keep improving my strength to get it up more before the fall.

    Aside from just shooting/practicing the way we are...what else have you all done to increase strength and draw weight? Any particular exercises that you found helpful? (No gym access for machines right now...so need home grown ideas)

  2. #2
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    Don't worry about not going to the gym....though exercising the core muscles definitely helps, archery muscles need to be exercised in the manor in which they're being used. It's kind of like golf, even if you're in shape, a round of golf will make you sore if you're not used to it.


    1. get a recurve, no more than about 30#-- shot it every day. This will do more for developing strength, endurance and creating proper form/alignment than any other exercise

    2. Get some exercise bands- do draw exercises--just drawing the bow in proper form/alignment, holding at anchor for a few seconds- do this while watching TV during commercials.


    During your shooting sessions- make your draw slow and precise
    during your shooting sessions- let down 2/3 times for every 1 shot.
    USA Level 2 Instructor
    2012 PSE Supra ME, 47#,ACC, Davis sight;2012 Dominator Pro 3D 55#; DS Advantage; ACC's
    Win-Win Inno Carbon Riser/Tropics 36#(38 tof), Redline arrows 690- DS Advantage-282grn@ 195fps
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  3. #3
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    Don't discount a 6lb increase as "not much". At 30lbs, a 6lb increase is 20% of the total weight. That's a lot. You're already doing the best thing you can do to gain strength.....shoot your bow. You'll be at 40lbs in no time.
    Bear Anarchy HC
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  4. #4
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    Thanks guys. Good ideas and points. I do work out at home (core stuff/squats etc) and we work on the farm which certainly is exercise. Just no access to formal equipment. My stall fork and wheelbarrow are the main things that get used!

    I had no trouble at 30# where the bow shop guy started me out...and now at 36# it seems just a little bit tougher but not much. It WILL be a bit tougher to let down like that. That's a good idea for strengthening that hadn't occurred to me. I'll definitely try that.

    Shooting is just so much fun. We are out there each evening until it gets to be too low of light to shoot well.

  5. #5
    just keep shooting as much as possible, and hold at full draw for a longer time that will help build strength and working on the farm should help also...god bless

  6. #6
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    One thing that will help is to pull with the back, not the shoulders or tricepts...As you draw, think of moving your draw arm shoulder blade to your spine- it takes time to learn and figure out but once you do, drawing a bow becomes easier...also helps keep everything aligned once at anchor.
    USA Level 2 Instructor
    2012 PSE Supra ME, 47#,ACC, Davis sight;2012 Dominator Pro 3D 55#; DS Advantage; ACC's
    Win-Win Inno Carbon Riser/Tropics 36#(38 tof), Redline arrows 690- DS Advantage-282grn@ 195fps
    2010 Hoyt Vantage Pro, XT 2000, Sprls, Sure Loc W BE 6X, ACC's 408g @ 259

  7. #7
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    In order to build strength (more muscle) we must break down the muscle we currently have to build back new muscle. Everytime we hit our limit (in this case shooting our bow long enough in one sitting to reach a point of no longer being able to pull our bow back with proper form) we create micro-tears in the muscle tissue and the body responds and heals the muscle and creates new muscle to try to avoid the trauma to the tissue again. In order to achieve this we need 3 things. Proper nutrition in the form of protein (via amino acids - the building blocks of muscle), progressive overload, and rest. I'll briefly touch on these below.

    Nutrition - without getting to in-depth. A female should be getting a minimum of 1lb of protein per lb of lean body mass per day. So lets say you weigh 125lbs. You should eat 125g of protein per day. In addition to protein you should also eat an adequate amount of carbs and fat help to keep energy levels up. No doubt about it....shooting a bow is training....we're training for strength, endurance, and muscle memory so energy is important.

    Progressive overload. This is simply creating an environment where you continually increase demands of not just the muscle but the entire musculoskeletal system (muscle, bone, and connective tissue) in order to increase strength, muscle, and endurance. To get stronger you must continually push yourself harder and harder or the muscle won't grow. This can be done by many methods, but for our purposes I recommend you do this by an increase in repetition (how many times you shoot), weight (draw weight), or most commonly a combination of the two. Every week you shoot you should either increase the amount of shots you take or the poundage. It's absolutely ESSENTIAL that you don't lose focus on form because as we all know bad habits get stored in the muscle memory. If you find that you can't manage to do this every week then work on progressive overload every 2 weeks.

    For example: Let's say that at your current poundage you can draw your bow with perfect form 25 times in one sitting. You can achieve progressive overload by weekly increasing your shots by 1,2,3, etc (whatever you feel comfortable with without losing form). The next week you would turn up your poundage by a pound or two, but decrease your pulls back down to 25 and so on. So for you....assuming you could pull your bow at 36lbs with proper form your schedule might look something like this. This is only an example....you may progress more slowly or rapidly. A lot of how quickly you progress will be determined by nutrition and rest. My wife went from 30 - 45lbs in 7 weeks using this method so you can definitely speed it up as long as you keep an eye on your form.

    Week 1 - 36lbs for 27 shots.
    Week 2 - 37lbs for 25 shots
    week 3 - 37lbs for 28 shots
    week 4 - 39lbs for 25 shots
    Week 5 - 39lbs for 26 shots
    week 6 - 40lbs for 25 shots.
    and so on. As you can see, every week we're either increasing our draw weight or our number of shots.

    Rest - As I mentioned earlier. In order for the body to increase muscle it needs to break down and rebuild the tissue. Without adequate rest your muscle will never have the opportunity to rebuild and get stronger. Rest also promotes better form and decreases the risk of injury. Don't overtrain. I know how much fun shooting can be, but while you're trying to build strength I would recommend you cut back your shooting to every other day to make sure you're getting enough rest. Once you reach your desire draw weight you can resume everyday shooting because at that point it's just maintenance.

    And there you have it. Sorry this was so long, but I can get carried away on strength and fitness topics.

  8. #8
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    My GF started out drawing 28 pounds. By simply going out and shooting often, she got to 40 in no time. She seems to have hit her limit so after a few days, I decided to drop it back to 38.
    That's where she likes it. Not brutal on her draw, she can shoot 40 arrows in one setting.

    Once you figure out that "Comfortable" draw weight for yourself, build the lightest arrow you can with a good spine to achieve the best velocity/accuracy for you.

    My GF is shooting 38 pounds draw, 24.5" length, 217 grain arrow, 235 FPS.

    She can shoot higher poundage but the trade-off is that it's less fun for her and more like work.

    I hope that helps
    `````````````````````````````` `````````````````````````````` ````````````````
    Human life has become cheap in our "enlightened" society. Liberalism has taught these kids that there's no difference in killing a one-year-old in a stroller and killing a ten WEEK old baby in the womb! These killers are not human - they are demons spawned in the cesspool of Progressive ideology.

  9. #9
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    GREAT answers guys. Slfmade that was a fantastic explanation. I definitely came to the right place to ask. It is tough right now not to want to shoot every day...but it makes sense to rest in between. I'm a bit of a perfectionist and I want to be as accurate and consistent as possible before I go out in the fall to try to take a live animal. I'm 100% confident in my rifle skills after years of practice...but this is all new and different.

    I am about 5'8" and 126#...with long arms and legs. Not the most strength in those arms...but I am working on it. Thanks again for the suggestions.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by ArkGirl View Post
    GREAT answers guys. Slfmade that was a fantastic explanation. I definitely came to the right place to ask. It is tough right now not to want to shoot every day...but it makes sense to rest in between. I'm a bit of a perfectionist and I want to be as accurate and consistent as possible before I go out in the fall to try to take a live animal. I'm 100% confident in my rifle skills after years of practice...but this is all new and different.

    I am about 5'8" and 126#...with long arms and legs. Not the most strength in those arms...but I am working on it. Thanks again for the suggestions.
    Good for you. I know too many people that don't pick up there bow until 2 weeks before season starts, group a couple of arrows at 20 yards the size of a dinner plate, and call it good. Then they wonder why they miss deer or shoot them in the gut and never find them. It's very irresponsible if you ask me. Good luck to you and let us know how it goes.

    By the way...I noticed your username. Are you an Arkansas girl? I'm from Western Arkansas myself.

  11. #11
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    Yep...Perry county.

    S.O. got a nice buck last year that will be back from the taxidermist any day. But we hunt mostly for the meat and process our own. Deer is our usual and favorite protein source! So extending our season and learning a fun new skill to help fill our freezer is my goal. I took my two last season with the .243 and I feel it's really important to make it a clean effective shot. So you can bet I will be practicing and not take the bow out to hunt unless I'm confident. Better for the animal...and less hiking and blood trailing for us!

    It's nice that we have a great bow shop/guy at Mt George Archery and he got me set up and started right.

  12. #12
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    Good deal. If you're ever in the Fort Smith area check out Gellco Outdoors. I live 4 hours away from there now, but unless I'm in immediate need of something I'll hold off and wait until I'm back in the area to visit family to have anything done to my bow. They're the best I've found in over a dozen shops I've been to.

  13. #13
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    Great advice from slfmade. You can also do pushups, pull ups and rows. I had to use things from around the ranch as well, actually tied some rope around 50lb sacks of grain to do rows! I had a bad shoulder injury and started out at 35lbs now shooting 50lbs. Like slfmade suggested, you have to rest so the muscles can repair! Welcome to the archery world!
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  14. #14
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    May 2013
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    When if first started I could hardly pull anything. 6 pounds is a big increase, you are doing great! What I did when I was trying to increase my draw weight was to practice drawing my bow getting on target and letting it down slowly 10 times a night without firing. Drawing slowly and letting down slowly. This is after shooting earlier in the day.
    I also use the bands specifically the BowFit, that way I can use it on both arms to increase my strength over all.

  15. #15
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    Thanks again guys...all good ideas. I resisted the urge to shoot last night since I had practiced a good bit the day before and did as some suggested with drawing and letting down a couple of times before taking a shot. I could definitely feel it in my muscles that next day.
    So many of you have been shooting for many years...but for me this is all new and really I'm loving it. I am reading all I can and learning as much as I can. I have surgical rods in my spine so I wasn't even sure if I would be able to draw a bow comfortably or with enough weight to hunt. I am thrilled to be doing this for sure!

  16. #16
    Join Date
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    Before you pick your arrows, learn about "Dynamic Spine" and it's effects on "The Mystical Flight of the Arrow".


    For 15 bucks you can build your own CUSTOM arrow on your computer.
    The software is by Pinwheel Software and it's called "Shaft Selector Supreme".

    Once you figure out the draw weight and specifics, you can find the cut length, spine and model of arrow that will be PERFECT for you and your Bow/Arrow combination.

    Enjoy
    `````````````````````````````` `````````````````````````````` ````````````````
    Human life has become cheap in our "enlightened" society. Liberalism has taught these kids that there's no difference in killing a one-year-old in a stroller and killing a ten WEEK old baby in the womb! These killers are not human - they are demons spawned in the cesspool of Progressive ideology.

  17. #17
    Just keep shooting. Increase your wt a lb a week, and just shoot it. You will be amazed how well you will come along.
    Praesto et Persto

  18. #18
    Not sure if this has been mentioned yet but it's important to strengthen both sides. Simply shooting your bow will strengthen your muscles and get your draw weight up, but it's a one-sided exercise and it's not good to be off balance. I am dealing with that issue right now. If you don't have access to a gym, maybe you could purchase some dumbbells and do a few strength training exercises with that. Pushups are also a good way to build your upper body strength, but make sure you have someone to keep an eye on your form (elbows should be in close to your side, not out farther). Keep at it and you'll get there! I started at 35 and am almost to 60lb now. But like I said, I built most of my strength by just shooting and I am dealing with other issues from my right side being much stronger than my left. Good luck and have fun!

    Electric Pink Mathews Jewel 50lbs, 25"


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