Some days it is hard to stop shooting. Mornings are particularly tough. There is little wind off the river. The light is just right. It is a good time to be outside and practicing. Training, however, has to be done smart.
Each week I set a plan for practice sessions. These sessions include archery and endurance sports. All my training has a plan with specific short-term and long-term goals. I also know that over training can lead to problems.
Shooting a heavy target bow can fatigue shoulders, arms, and hands. Next week I’ll be hunting so current practice is mostly using significantly lighter equipment. My hunting bow, a Mathews ZXT, weights 4.2 pounds, is shorter axle to axle, and has 80% let off versus 65% let of the target bow. During this morning’s practice, using my hunting bow, it felt like I could have shot for another hour.
Repetitive motion under stain can lead to injuries. What I’ve experienced training and competing in endurance sports is that minor aches and pains if not monitored closely can lead to problems.
A case in point is the Jones fracture of my right foot (fifth metatarsal). Sir Robert Jones an orthopedic surgeon first described the injury in 1902. A friend that is an orthopedic surgeon confirmed my injury. Mine was a Zone II injury that often resolves with limited restriction of activity. I took it easy for a while, but not long enough and the injury has taken years to resolve. Surgery and an internal screw fixation would have helped but I elected to run through it.
Shooting a heavy bow for hours a day can lead to a number of shoulder injuries. I’ve described these under Archery Research section of this website. Some archers advocate use of analgesia prior to practice. I disagree since the analgesia could mask pain. If it is going to hurt, I want to know about the pain before it becomes serious.
A more prudent system, in my opinion, is to work up to a certain level of archery endurance and not over do it. A year ago I was shooting 30 – 60 arrows a day. Today, I’ll shoot up to 200 (+/- a few) arrows over two practice sessions. On rest days, I don’t shoot a single arrow and on easy days I’ll fire around 30 shots. Each session has a mental plan, a form plan, and the actual arrow count is secondary.
Today is a long day. That means I’ll shoot somewhere between 120 and 200 arrows. It will take several hours. But, the hunting bow is so light, easy to draw, and the let off so amazing it was tough to end the session even though my training goals may be accomplished.
The number of arrows is never an exact count. I work it like this on long days: yardage, marked by tape measured stakes, is 20 to 60 in 5-yard increments, 5 to 6 arrows per end. If I feel I am having a problem at some distance I’ll take extra time on that position or come back to it. Because I am practicing for hunting, I’ll shoot unknown yardage from various levels on my deck and poach. I’ll add these unknown distances by moving the target and walking to random spots on my property then shoot.
Today shooting felt good. Sunday had been a light day, morning practice only. (Sunday is a football day, after all.) My arms, shoulders, and hands were rested. There was little fatigue following a couple of hours of practice this morning. Regardless, I put down my bow and counted the holes I’d placed into a new target. There were 75. That was enough for the moment.