Cold weather, heavy clothing and stiff muscles. “Cold November mornings are the dreams of whitetail hunters each season,” Says Heartland Lodge Owner Gary Harpole. With rutting activity reaching its peak in many key areas throughout the country, the hard work you have put in the rest of the work year boils down to a few precious days during the Thanksgiving month. Having a mishap at the moment of truth after a years worth of work is the last thing you want. A man named Pete sure wasn’t expecting a mishap during a cold November sit in 2012. Although he had arrowed a magnificent public land 7×7 bull elk on a western backpack hunt just a month and a half before, as he attempted to draw that morning on a dandy woodland deer,his shoulder gave out, rendering him unable to draw as the buck was on path to pass at 20 yards. He could do nothing. The pain had Pete in near tears.
Properly warming up your muscles before heading out and while on stand can be the difference between being able to make the shot and having your stiff cold muscles ruin your hard earned chance. To help fellow archers avoid the same problem, Seven Time NYS Archery State Champion Levi McGee sat down and shared four warm up tips for archers.
1. The Prayer:
“I call this one the prayer,” Said McGee. Put your hands together like you are praying, then, pull them in tight to your chest at your sternum. Then slowly pull your palms apart by squeezing your scapulas together. Do this for a 10 second count. This stretch is important since your scapulas are a critical part to proper back tension for greater archery accuracy. Remember you are stretching not straining the muscles so don’t over exert yourself, just get the blood flowing
2. Arm Circles:
Sure, this may seem too simple and give you a flashback to high school sports but, simple arm circles not only can loosen cold stiff muscles but get blood flowing through the arms and shoulders. “Start with small tight circles gradually getting larger. Again, no need to violently swing your arms. Just loosen them up and get warm however long you need too,” Says McGee.
3. Lunge and Twist:
A muscle area not usually talked about which is crucial for archery is your core. “Our abdominal area is key for stability and strength while shooting, loosening the core area is often overlooked.” Says McGee. Simply put both feet together then take a large step forward. While in this position, rotate your torso both ways. Do this for however long you feel necessary.
4. Triceps Pull Downs:
Triceps also play a critical role in drawing a bow. Pull downs are simple. “Place one hand on your back like you are scratching the top of your shoulder. Take your other hand and grasp the top of your elbow and pull down for 10 to 15 seconds. Simple as that, Says McGee. Repeat on adjacent shoulder.
Warming up your muscles may not seem important for archery. Taking a few minutes to warm up before heading out on each hunt, especially as cold mornings and the late season arrives, can make a difference between being able to make a shot or not.