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How to Develop a Strong Bow Arm

Developing a strong bow arm does not happen overnight. It takes a lot of practice, coaching, and muscle development to hold your bow arm as steady as the professional archers on the world circuit. The good news is you don’t need to be a pro to learn how to keep your arm steady while shooting. With just a few techniques, you can improve your bow arm strength.

Drop the Weight

Analyze whether your stabilizer is too heavy. Photo Credit: USA Archery

Before you start working on keeping your arm still, ensure there is not too much mass weight on your bow, particularly the stabilizers. While it’s true that the top archers in the world are shooting heavy mass weight, if you don’t have the brute strength to handle this weight, your bow arm will suffer. To effectively work on your bow arm technique, you may have to remove some weights from your stabilizers.

After you’ve lightened your bow, you may start to notice your bow arm tendencies during shot execution. When the inertia from a heavy bow is gone, the bow and your arm are now “allowed” to do what they want. Seeing these natural motions in your front side (the side of you that’s closest to the target) will indicate the work you need to do to fix any bow arm issues.

Shoulder Strength

The most common thing shooters first notice is their bow arm moves in a direction that is not conducive to maintaining a stationary bow arm. Motions where the bow arm drops show a weakness in the muscles holding your arm parallel to the ground. A bow arm that swings either in front of or behind the archer could show a tension imbalance between the muscles in the front and the back of the arm. In both situations, you need more shoulder stability. This is usually fixed by exercise and shooting practice. You can work out in a gym or at home. Something as simple as pushing a tennis ball into a wall at arm’s length while making small circles will help activate the small muscles in your shoulder joint, thus helping gain shoulder muscle awareness and stability.

Top-Notch Triceps

Make sure your bow arm stays straight, even during follow-through, as pictured above. Photo Credit: USA Archery

Another common mistake that archers make is allowing their arm to collapse, resulting in a follow-through with a bent bow arm. This shows a small weakness in the tricep muscles, which keep the bow arm straight and pointed toward the target. The triceps, located opposite of your biceps, are responsible for extending the arm. Weak triceps are evident if the archer tends to have a shaky bow arm while at full draw. Working on triceps doesn’t even require fancy gym equipment. Add some narrow stance push-ups to your workout to strengthen these muscles. If you can’t do a full push-up with your hands and feet, try them on your knees.

In the end, keeping your bow arm stationary isn’t about holding it still. On the contrary, you should be giving your arm a clear direction so that it stays still. It’s simple: Aim toward the target. Doing this will help your arm “stay its course” and keep extending to the target. 

Plenty of practice will help you hone your bow arm; over time you will find it moves less and less. Coupled with strengthening exercises, spend some time on the shooting range to give you the most solid bow arm on the archery field.



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