Strength Building Program to add Draw Weight

Here is a plan to add strength and draw weight this coming year.  It's just something to begin discussing.

Let's call it Plan A (we'll have several plans/variations of plans to mull/polish):

The Plan is based upon several premises that are pretty universally agreed upon by world class archers and coaches over the years:

1) build "archery strength" mostly by doing archery movements with the bow.  It's a complex movement involving many muscles/nerves/tendons that have to be trained to move together in concert.  Only the movement itself can achieve that.

2) archers are athletes who should engage in a well rounded general conditioning program (gym time, running/cardio, yoga, etc)

2b)  the corollary to "2" is that we're not trying out for the NFL or the world's powerlifting team.  Gym activities and cardio should be general and modest in intensity - not so demanding and gut busting that they require 2-3 days of recuperation.

Plan A (don't get hung up on this day or that day, it's just a sense of a week's approach):

Acquire heavier limbs.  We want to be able to immediately add 1-2 pounds on the draw weight, and still have room to go up another 2lbs down the road.  If Ian's using 24/26lb limbs now, then I think 28/30lb limbs is where we should be thinking.  But we can test that at 3rd street during a lesson to kick off this plan, when you guys are ready to do that.


Monday - shoot the shooting bow ... 18 arrows per end (or as many as you have to shoot), 4 ends (or 6 ... whatever it takes to get 72arrows).  Very important that the archer train with a LOT of arrows per end. It forces the nerve pathways to accept more 'grooving to the concerted movement being demanded of nerves and muscles and tendons.  I can explain in person and give good convincing anecdotal evidence of some nation-leading archers doing this technique.

Tuesday -

     1) shoot the weightlifting bow ... 10-12 sets of 3 reps.  Can be done at home, close to the target (5 yards).  Probably take 30min.  A rep is pull back to anchor, hold for some specific length of time (10seconds to start with?), then slowly increase the draw a little bit more and either shoot the arrow or just let down.  Then another rep.  Then another rep.  Then rest for a couple minutes.  Then do another set.  Etc.  Always the goal should be to increase the holding time from 10sec to 12 sec, then to 15 sec.  When the archer can get all 12 sets of 3 reps at 15 seconds, time to increase the draw weight of the weightlifting bow.  

       2) gym - squats, core work, general upper body stuff (pull downs, presses, curls, push ups), yoga, some cardio on the treadmill or bike, whatever.  Refreshing general conditioning workout - nothing that make the archer really sore and stiff the next day.

Wed - off

Thurs - Shooting bow

Fri - Weightlifting bow, gym

Sat - shooting bow or off

Sun - off

Basically, shooting bow  twice a week (maybe three times some weeks), weightlifting bow/gym twice a week, and off twice a week

During the archer's shooting bow days, we'll work on form issues.  

We aren't worried for awhile about grouping and getting everything in the yellow.  That's the discipline - focus now on the details of the plan.  

Through most of August.

Toward the end of August, we'll spend a bit more focus on bow and arrow setup to get good grouping at OKC tourney.

Shoot the tournament in early Sept.  

Assess what we learned.

Back to the Plan.

Once we feel we're ready (mid-late Sept, early Oct?), we'll go up another 1-2 pounds on the archer's shooting bow.  Then follow the plan.

Then, as we get closer to December, we'll morph the plan to include more tuning/grouping focus (bow tweaking, arrow tweaking).

Indoor season - form grooving, mental game,

After Indoor season, then another draw weight increase of 1-2 pounds, and back to the Plan for a couple months Mar and April (including starting to shoot at 60meters in practice).  

In May we'll tweak bow/arrows/grouping.

July - Nationals


Again, this Plan A is just a good place to start a discussion and let it take a more polished/refined shape as we talk through it.

Alternate Summary of Above Concept:


Currently: benchpressing 5 sets of 5 reps/set with strict form (slow lower with control, touch (not rest) and pause on chest, then powerpush with control to full extension)

Goal: increase my bench press workout poundage from 185 to 215

Plan: After warmup, then first set 5 reps with 185. Second set with 190, trying to get 5 reps. If I get it, then third set 190, trying to get 5 reps. If I get it, then fourth set with 190. If I don't get 5 reps, then fourth set with 185, and 5th set with 185. Next bench workout (two per week), repeat, only trying to increase reps and set with 190. When I get 5 sets with 5 reps at 190, then I'll repeat with 195. Then with 200. Etc.

Draw Weight:

Draw weight increase can be had with same tactical principles. Poundage increases and volume per workout completely situational to each archer. Example: You were at 30. So start with a weight (34lb?) that you can shoot approx 6-10 arrows with perfect form/control before the weight starts to win. Then lower weight back to 30 and finish your shooting training. Next heavy training session (heavy twice a week), try to increase perfect form reps by a few from previous session's perfect quantity. Once you can shoot 40-50 arrows with perfect form at the higher weight, then up the higher weight a couple pounds. You should find that your 'normal training/precision weight' can now be higher to (32 instead of 30lb, for example). So, you're progressively dragging everything up the hill, just like in the weight room. Etc. Etc.

(this is just a general concept - the details have a myriad of options/wrinkles).

Drill to Increase your Draw Length, Increase your Strength, Improve your Alignment and Force Balance, and Increase your Bow Command

Draw length Increase and Strength Phase

1) Blank bale, 5 yards

2) Draw to your fully stretched out / forces (fore and aft) balanced out / completely in line. You will undoubtedly pull through your clicker (probably by 1/2" or so). This is fine.

3) Now anchor at this position, fully upright/straight. Feel the expansed stretch. It feels wonderful.

4) Once at your full ‘eagle spread’ draw, hold for 10 seconds in perfectly straight alignment, using (as much as possible) only your back muscles to hold the bow apart and maintain your line. Then after 10 seconds shoot the arrow.

5) Rest 20 seconds

6) Repeat this sequence as many times as you want that training session

At first, you'll probably feel weak and unstable stretched way out there. But keep at it.  Be resolved to build your strength out here at the far margin of your alignment capability.  And, be committed to systematically over time turning your limb bolts in to further compel your body and archery muscles to get stronger.  Realistically, you’ll need to shoot 4,000 arrows this way before moving on to Clicker New Position Phase. Keep at it.  Before long, you'll gain strength out at the margin and then feel how solid and secure you are all stretched out and in line - great feeling of power and confidence!

Clicker New Position Phase

At some point, nudge you clicker position back toward you until on some attempts you don't quite pull through the clicker too soon. After some more time, adjust your clicker to where your arrow point at full draw is close to breaking clicker but rarely does.


You don’t have to do this exclusively of other/more normal shooting/training.  You can just work this training technique into your mix during each week of training.  But, understand it will take most people 3,000-5,000 arrows shot this way to really make this new position (longer draw weight, straighter alignment, more strength) their new normal - it takes a lot of ‘testing repetition’ to 1) build the strength, and 2) groove the nerve pathways at this new stretched out position.  If you shot 300 arrows this way EACH Week, it would take 3 - 4 months to really have baked this new capability into your cake.

But the effort is worth it:  This will help establish a new draw length for you, with better alignment and more strength/stamina to control/dominate the weight at which you'll be competing. More strength, more confidence, low risk of injury, feels great.