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How To Improve Your Bow Control - Recurve Archery

Improve Bow Control – Introduction

How do I improve bow control? This is one of the most common questions that archers ask, and for good reason. If you don’t have decent control of the bow you’re shooting, it can make correct technique difficult, or impossible. There are a few key things to look at when it comes to increasing your archery specific strength and this is the same whether you want to improve technique, increase draw weight or just improve your endurance during competition.

In the video below, I answer a few questions from OAA followers, and the bow control section starts at 00:31. You can watch the full video below, and there’s also a written summary if you scroll down past the video. You can also check out our specific Archery Bow Training Exercises and Archery Strength Training Exercises.

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Improve Bow Control – Gym/Exercise

As with all sports, a good general base of strength and conditioning is hugely beneficial. There are some great exercises that I’ve put on this site (you can find them in the Recurve Archery Exercises section) which can really help build up a solid foundation. It’s always recommended to start slow and begin with basic things such as fundamental core exercises (front plank, side plank…etc) before moving on to free-weights or large compound exercises. This is especially true for younger archers.

Core exercises are extremely important, and for a simple reason; keeping a stable body and posture through the whole recurve shot is essential.

Even if you begin with a core circuit type of exercise regime, this can be a game changer. It’s not just about strength, it’s about co-ordination, endurance and being able to put your body in the right position.


Improve Bow Control – Bow Training

Bow training is massively important because it’s the most intense activity you can do which is specific to the muscles involved in shooting. By doing bow training, you are greatly increasing the load on the archery muscles, and also testing how robust your technique is. If you have solid technique, and good strength, a top level archer should be able to do at least 8 7+2 exercise repetitions. This can be a useful metric to see where you are with your strength and your technique.

It’s worth mentioning that bow training should be done with extreme caution. And I don’t mean this in a way which limits you doing it. I mean that you should absolutely do bow training, but be extremely conservative as to the poundage/draw weight you use. Bow training is all about increasing the muscle strength with the right technique, so there is NO point in struggling with a high poundage bow with the wrong technique. This is a one-way road to frustration and injury.

Start your bow training with just a Theraband or similar elastic tubing. Then you can gradually increase the weight you use. This will still hugely improve your bow control, believe me. As I said: technique is KING when it comes to bow training.


Improve Bow Control – Shooting Volume

Finally, varying or increasing the number of arrows you shoot per week (we call this your shooting volume), also plays a part in improving your bow control. However, there is a good reason as to why I’ve left this to the end. Simply put, bow training and gym work is more important. If you are generally too weak and can not do bow training with the right technique, shooting volume does little more than ingrain current technique. Yes you will become slightly stronger, but you will never get to the point where you feel as if you’re fully in control of your bow.

As you can understand, all three activities are essential to improving your bow control and leaving one of them out effectively leaves you with a lopsided approach to training.

On a parting note, really evaluate whether your draw weight is allowing you to do what you want when you’re shooting. No-one likes doing it, but decreasing draw weight/poundage is very often the road to more enjoyment, better technique and better scores.