Air rifle shooting accuracy is not just a matter of practice. Physical fitness also plays a large part in shooting performance. Those who are in good shape are able to improve their shooting more quickly and tend to score better in competitions. There are plenty of reasons for shooters to develop a work-out routine besides the fact that regular exercise improves overall well-being. It also improves one’s ability to shoot well under the pressures of competition. In addition, an exercise routine that emphasizes flexibility and good circulation in addition to strength and endurance helps improves one’s ability to maintain control and coordination in difficult shooting positions.
To receive these benefits, shooters need to develop well-rounded work-outs, including aerobics, strength training, flexibility, and organized sports. Be sure to discuss possible exercise routines with your primary care physician and contact them if you feel discomfort or changes in your body while exercising to avoid permanently crippling your ability to shoot effectively.
Aerobics focuses on exercising the heart muscle, lungs, and the rest of the circulatory system, ensuring its continued ability to efficiently absorb oxygen and circulate it through the rest of the body, so ones shooting performance is not affected by heavy breathing or cramping. Aerobic exercises include biking, swimming, cross-country skiing, and running. Swimming is one of the best exercises for a shooter, due to the added benefit of muscle resistance while swimming. However, variety is also important, so shaking up your routine with a run or bike ride is also beneficial. Aerobic exercises should be done at least 20 minutes a day, five days a week.
Flexibility may not seem important for a shooters training, but a competitive shooter must be able to shoot from various positions, an ability improved by regular stretching. One good stretch is doing neck rolls. These are done by tipping the head forward and gently rolling it to your left shoulder, then back to your right shoulder. Then tip your head back and do the same thing. Remember that it is not good for your neck to do a full circle with your head, so straighten up after you do a couple of front neck rolls before you do your back neck rolls.
Torso stretches are also helpful. To do these, interlace your fingers and stretch your arms over your head, palms facing the ceiling. Then, lean to the left, making sure not to lean forward or backward. Hold the position until you feel the muscle release or relax slightly, then repeat the movement to the other side. Next, spread your legs until they are shoulder-width apart, and spread your arms to either side. Then, twist to touch your right hand to your left foot, being sure to keep the line across your chest from fingertip to fingertip as straight as possible. Repeat to the other side.
To stretch your thighs, raise one knee and hug it to your chest, keeping your back as straight as possible, and hold the position until the muscle releases. Repeat this for the other leg. Then, you can do lunges, placing your hands on your hips and stepping forward with one leg until your knee forms a right angle and keeping your back leg straight, then repeat with the other leg.
Next, you can stretch your achilles tendon. Stand a couple of feet away from a wall, then place your hands against the wall and lean forward, keeping your body in a straight plank position and your feet flat on the ground, until you feel a stretch in the back of your ankles. Hold this until the muscle releases.
Last, stretch your groin area by sitting on the ground with your knees bent and the bottoms of your feet touching. Then, clasp your feet with your hands and bend your elbows to the side to pull your chest toward the floor, keeping your back as straight as possible. Do this until the muscles relax.
Alternatively, consider taking regular yoga classes. Not only do these improve flexibility at a safe pace, but they also help teach you how to control your breath and hold a difficult position steady for long periods of time. Yoga is an invaluable exercise for any sport that requires precision and stamina.
Of course, strength training is also important. Building strength helps shooters hold the gun steady, hold still in various positions, and maintain control over movements during practice and competitions.
Competitive air rifle shooting requires the use and strength of several specific muscle groups. Naturally, bicep, tricep, and shoulder exercises are necessary but do not neglect leg and core exercises. Both leg and abdominal strength training improve a shooter’s ability to hold a rifle steady in a standing position. Crunches and squats are excellent at-home exercises for competitive air rifle shooters.
In addition to a normal weight-training regimen, isometric exercises are helpful for competitive air rifle shooters. These are exercises that involve tensing the target muscle without shortening or lengthening it or moving the corresponding joint. Though not necessarily meant to build strength, isometric exercises are good for maintaining strength and help shooters develop their ability to hold still in one position for long periods of time. One possible isometric exercise is just holding a rifle in a specific position for as long as possible.
In addition to the above exercises, organized sports are also great practice for competitions. Ping pong is one of the top sports for preparing for competitions because it builds arm, leg, and core strength while not being hard on the joints. Other good sports to try include skating, soccer, and volleyball.
Naturally, exercise is not the only component to being fit for shooting competitions. A well-balanced diet heavy in greens and protein is also crucial. Sleeping well is vital to getting the most out of a workout and being ready for a competition. Drinking lots of water is also important.