Improve Your Game – What Sports Complement Archery Progression and Why?
Sarah Bettles has participated in many different sports, part of the GB Team, Sarah explains key benefits that different sports have on archery.
Growing up I’ve been lucky enough to take part in a wide variety of sports from kayaking and rock climbing with the sea scouts, to swimming, badminton, gymnastics and trampoline throughout School and University, I’ve also been horse riding since I was around 8 years old and of course, I now do archery.
I did a few University competitions with trampolining and some low-level dressage and showjumping with the horses but other than archery, I haven’t done any other sport up to any great level.
Most sports complement each other in some way or another through improved physical conditioning, proprioception, coordination, strength and mobility. Archery is a skill-based sport with key components:
- Strength – to draw and control your bow
- Flexibility – to allow joints to move through their full range of motion for good alignment
- Balance – to be able to control your aim at full draw
- Proprioception – awareness of the position and movement of the body throughout the shot.
Here is how I found that each of the sports I have taken part in have influenced my archery progression:
Much like archery; badminton, swimming and kayaking rely heavily on shoulder strength, conditioning and mobility. Since archery is a highly repetitive sport conditioning and flexibility of the shoulder joints are vital to reduce this risk of injury and increase accuracy.
Swimming is great for total body conditioning with low impact and, along with kayaking, is good for developing strong back and shoulder muscles with good symmetry. Although archery is largely an asymmetric sport, it is still good to try to maintain muscular symmetry to prevent injury and for balance between bow side and string side on execution of the shot.
The skills gained through gymnastics provide an incredible base for athletes to succeed in all other sports. The stamina, muscle control, strength, flexibility, balance and spatial awareness developed through gymnastics are transferable to every sport.
Gymnastics helps to develop strong proprioceptive skills. Proprioception refers to the awareness of the body’s position and movement. Much of an archer’s shot routine relies on proprioception, since we can’t see much of our own body while we are at full draw we rely on how our body feels to know if we have achieved the same correct position, alignment and balance shot after shot.
In my opinion, the transferable skills from horse riding are probably some of the more overlooked skills when it comes to archery. There is often a common misconception that with horse riding you just sit there and the horse does all the work. Horse riding relies heavily on core strength, control, balance and posture; small movements in your body position and weight distribution influence the direction and speed of the horse.
For example, something as simple as sitting with slightly more weight on one seat bone may cause the horse to move sideways away from the increased pressure on that side. Now imagine sitting on gym ball, if you shift your weight slightly forwards, backwards or sideways the ball starts to move away from you.
So how does this relate to archery? That core strength and stability is what helps you to control your aim and balance (especially in the wind). It also teaches you to maintain your core strength stability while drawing/shooting the bow, helping to maintain your posture throughout your shot sequence.