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The Sands of Time

INCLINE PUSHUPS: Draw your abs in while pulling your shoulder blades toward the spine and then down toward your back pockets, and then perform a pushup. You should feel this more in the middle of your back than in your chest or arms. Perform a few sets of as many reps as you can do while maintaining strict form.

Are you getting any younger? Rhetorical question, you're thinking -- and you're right! No one is. To keep your aging muscles cooperating so you can pursue your passion of bowhunting, please read on.

Skeletal muscle abides by one rule -- use it or lose it. This generally accepted rule arises from the fact that everyone gradually loses strength purely as a result of advancing years. Decreased activity that often comes with age contributes to the problem.

Any loss in muscle has a negative affect on your physical capabilities, including your ability to draw and shoot a bow. Archery accuracy correlates directly with your ability to hold steady at full draw, and your stability at full draw correlates directly to strength -- a solid foundation.

SCARECROWS: Using bands, cables, or dumb-bells, pin your shoulder blades back as you move your arms backwards in the same plane. Pause at the end of the movement. Perform several sets of 9-12 repetitions.

The mid to lower trapezius muscles coupled with rhomboids and posterior deltoids -- the major muscles of the upper back and shoulders -- are the key bow-shooting muscles. To combat the aging process and promote the longevity of "bowhunting muscles," you must incorporate upper-body strength training into your fitness regimen.

SPRINTING: Surprised? Actually, sprinting is your ace in the hole and requires bursts of powerful movements at the shoulder, back, and hips! This move is great for postural strength because it is very taxing on the en-tire body. Find some stairs, and you'll feel it everywhere! Perform a handful of sets, keeping each sprint under 30 seconds.

Strength training involves nothing more than providing a dose of "stress" to working muscle. You actually get your dividend once the broken-down muscle has the opportunity to repair, adjust, and come back stronger.

Strength training remedies age-related muscle and strength loss and should positively affect your ability to shoot a bow by ensuring a smooth draw, providing more stability at full draw, and perhaps increasing your ability to pull greater draw weight.

Strength training not only will improve your physical shooting ability but will also, in turn, boost your confidence to make the shot, regardless of conditions. Adequate physical strength will eliminate concerns about drawing and holding the bow, giving you the freedom to focus your full attention on the process of aiming and executing a good shot.

The best bowhunting exercises are ones that strengthen many different muscles at the same time while mimicking the process of drawing and shooting a bow. This type of training is called functional strength training, which is about the only way to improve performance without spending countless hours in a gym. Incorporate these exercises weekly and you will slow down the sands of bow-hunting time!

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