In this week’s Firearm Science on NRA All Access, world champion shooter Jessie Duff showed us some of the exercises she does to stay in top shape for competition. Like any other sport, shooters need to incorporate other types of training along with target practice. Exercise also comes with many health benefits which will keep you performing at your best. So whether you’re a competitive shooter, hunter, or just headed to the range for fun, here are three types of exercises that are not only good for your health, but good for your shot.
When strength training and lifting weights, Jessie focuses on certain muscle groups, especially those that that work her upper body. For a competitive shooter, strong arm and shoulder muscles result in a quicker and smoother draw motion. Strength training also leads to better balance, decreased health risks, and improved mood.
Jessie’s upper body weight lifting routine consists of exercises such as bicep curls, upright rows, and triceps extensions/dips (3 sets/10 reps each). If you are new to lifting weights, it is important to begin with lower weight and reps. Once that becomes comfortable, slowly add more weight and/or increase reps to build up strength.
Jessie alternates her strength training workouts with cardiovascular (cardio) exercises. She does cardio for about 60 minutes, a few times a week. Jessie also does ladder and various plyometric exercises a lot throughout her shooting season. Cardio exercise builds endurance, lower body agility, and strength which assists her transitions and movement through a course. Cardio also comes with numerous health benefits such as improved hearth health, reduced stress, and better sleep.
There are many ways to get a good cardio workout: walking, running, biking, swimming, etc. The American College of Sports Medicine and the Center for Disease Control recommend 30 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity multiple days a week. For improved cardiovascular endurance, they recommend 20 to 60 minutes, three to five days per week.
Jessie regularly takes yoga classes at her local gym, going through various yoga positions from beginner to advanced levels. Yoga improves balance and strengthens the upper body and core which is beneficial for various shooting positions. Yoga also teaches relaxation and controlled breathing which will improve focus when shooting under pressure.
Yoga classes are typically about an hour long, making for a relaxing workout while still working your muscles. If doing yoga at home, try some beginner moves to find your balance. Start by holding poses for shorter amounts of time and increase them as you get comfortable.