How Often Should Archers Practice?

Practice makes perfect, right? Although this mantra is a constant with those who are on the path to perfecting a skill, how much you practice, especially in archery, is often a big variable. Too little practice and you don’t give your mind and body enough time to “digest” your shot process; too much and you run the risk of injury and burnout. Finding your optimal amount of practice will be based on the level of shooting you want to achieve.

Novice Archers

When you’re just beginning archery, there is no need to get out and shoot every single day. Instead, you should be out enjoying shooting arrows and feeling the excitement of hitting the middle whenever you execute a good shot. It’s highly recommended that you only shoot once or twice a week (with a maximum of 100 or so shots each session) to give your muscles a little time to recover between sessions. There’s nothing more discouraging than getting into a new, fun sport and having to stop prematurely due to an injury. Make sure to take your time and enjoy yourself!

Intermediate Archers

After shooting archery for a while, you’ll start to feel the itch to compete against other people, beginning at the club level and working your way up to regional and possibly national levels. You’ll be motivated to achieve a higher score than the last time you shot with every practice session. At this point, you’ll have to increase the number of sessions per week because of the stamina required to finish strong during competition. Some competitions can take several hours, so your practice sessions will have to match that too. Going to three to four days of practice every week will ensure that you build your physical stamina, as well as your mental stamina. Your arrow volume for each session will also have to go up slightly to ensure that you “have it in you” to finish a competition strong. It’s generally recommended that you can shoot twice the number of arrows shot in competition during your practice sessions. For example, if you’re planning on shooting a World Archery 720 round (72 arrows) plus practice, you should plan to shoot around 150 arrows on your practice days. Of course, if you feel any pain or discomfort while practicing, you should reduce the number of arrows during your sessions. 

Advanced Competitors

At this point in an archer’s career, a coach will have devised a custom training program with the amount of practice needed for the archer to perform at his or her best. This usually includes practicing five to six days per week with arrow volumes varying based on where the archer is in their periodization[1]. Again, practice volume is based on the type of competition the archer is training for, and whether they are preparing for competition or recovering from it. There are so many different training styles and ideals for each archer that it’s difficult to further generalize an advanced archer’s training schedule.

Overall, novice and intermediate archers should remember that more practice does not necessarily mean improvements in form and score. Overuse injuries are common in eager archers who think that shooting an extremely high number of arrows every day will help them improve. Productive practice will lead to quicker improvements in form and scores, and it doesn’t have to be time-consuming. Gradually increase your practice volume over time to prevent injuries, and always try to find the fun in shooting. If you’re not having fun, you’re not doing it right.

[1] Periodization is the increase or decrease in volume and practice scoring in order to allow the archer either a rest period or high performance.

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