"Six! Seven! Eight! Nine! Ten!" I pushed off the ground one final time, wiped the sweat off my brow, took a deep breath and sprinted across the field. After reaching my destination I picked up my weapon, focused on my target, let half a breath out and slowly squeezed the trigger. Thwack!
No, this isn't a story from bootcamp. Rather it's a self induced torture I like to put myself through to prepare myself for the moment when a Booner walks in front of me someday. As we all know, training as a bowhunter is not something that should start the weekend before hunting season. Rather , you'll find that the most successful bowhunters are the ones that train physically and practice with their archery equipment all year round. In an effort to become one of these "most successful bowhunters", I've tried a great number of different training and practice methods over the years. And now after lots of trial and error, I believe I have come upon the perfect training regimen for bowhunters, by combining archery practice and circuit training.
Circuit training is defined as a method of physical conditioning in which one moves from one exercise to another, usually in a series of different stations or pieces of equipment. The purpose of circuit training is to work different parts of the body, continuously keeping your heart rate high, while alternating between different types of workouts. This type of workout is perfect for training as a bowhunter, because it allows you to work out in ways that uniquely will help you become better prepared to release an arrow at a mature buck this fall and simultaneously practice under conditions that simulate that exact situation! So while this might be hard to imagine now, let me walk you through my circuit training regimen and explain how this might just be the perfect workout for a bowhunter.
My Bowhunter's Circuit Training Workout has three simple steps, and once you finish one, you immediately move on to the next. Continue this cycle for as many repetitions as you can handle. I would recommend running through this circuit for 30-60 minutes, depending on what kind of shape you are in. Remember, this shouldn't be easy. Push yourself and in the end, it will make you a better bowhunter and a stronger, healthier person to boot!
Bowhunter's Circuit Training Workout Steps
1. Upper Body: The first step in the Bowhunter's Circuit is an upper body exercise. I like to do push-ups for this, as it's easy to do outside and it really works a lot of your upper body muscles. I would recommend doing 10-20 push-ups each cycle. I know 10-20 push-ups may not seem like a lot to many of you, but after going through the circuit 15 times or more, it can become really tough. If you can't do 10-20, no problem. Do as many pushups as you can muster in about a minute's time and then move on. The upper body exercise is important because it strengthens the muscles that are used to draw back and hold your bow. Consistently working these muscles will inevitably improve your aim, stability and longevity at full draw. Additionally, by going though this step during the circuit, it will cause your arm some fatigue. This will help simulate one aspect of buck fever, when you get to shooting in Step Three! Immediately upon completion, move on to the next station.
2. Cardio: Step Two is the cardio workout and this is a key component to the circuit because it strengthens your heart and lungs, while also helping you simulate the high stress of buck fever when you get to the last step. As I go through my circuits, I like to rotate in several different cardio exercises to keep things interesting. I typically will either jump rope, do jumping jacks or run in place for 60 seconds. Push it hard for those 60 seconds to get the most out of this step. By getting in a good amount of cardio, you'll be building a stronger heart and lungs, which when it comes to hunting situations, you definitely want. Cardio will build your physical endurance and control. Whether it be hiking in to your stand a mile back in the swamp, or controlling your breathing before shooting, cardio will help you. Once you're done, run to your bow, nock an arrow and get ready for Step Three.
3. Shooting: Now comes the moment of truth. Step Three is the culmination of the circuit, when you need to calm down, control your breathing, focus and shoot. At this point you've worked your upper body, making it harder to draw back and hold your bow steady. Additionally you've jumped or ran around, so your heart is beating and you're sucking air. Does this sound like anything you've encountered before? You got it, buck fever. Which is exactly what we want. Step Three is all about practicing under buck fever like conditions, collecting yourself and making good shots. Get a handle on yourself, focus and send three arrows into the bullseye. You've now finished your first cycle. Now run down to the target, collect your arrows and go back to Step One.
Keep repeating this cycle for 30-60 minutes, switching up cardio or upper body exercises if you like. Remember, the key to circuit training is that you keep moving continuously. Don't give up. Each step will get harder the longer you continue, but without a doubt this will build your physical and mental strength. When you get to the 30 minute mark your arms will be shaking, your heart will be pounding and those shots will be much harder to nail. But it's these challenging conditions that will best prepare you for the moment of truth come this fall.
If you want a workout that makes you both a healthier person and a better bowhunter, give the Bowhunting Circuit Training Workout a try. If you can run through this circuit 2-3 times a week, you will be in great shape this fall and have a terrific chance at closing the deal on the buck of your dreams!