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Components of fitness   Back to Training index

Fitness isn't a single thing; there are different aspects of fitness. Different sports need a different balance of these components of fitness. This page just lists some of them, and picks out the ones most important for archery. For quick reference, they are:

Strength Visual Acuity
Speed Agility
Flexibility Balance
Endurance Medical

The importance marking is relative, from no blots to three blots. Just because something has top priority, though, doesn't mean it has to be at the limit of human capacity - just that it should get some attention in archery training.

Component Description Importance for Archery
 Strength Strength is just about how big a force your muscles can produce. Strong muscles lift heavy loads, and draw a heavy bow with more room to spare for fine control.
 Endurance Being strong enough to draw your bow isn't enough - you have to draw it with good control 150 times to shoot a FITA. It's not as demanding as running a Marathon, but it's a significant consideration.
 Flexibility Flexibility relates to how far your joints move. Archery doesn't place great demands on joint mobility, but the currently accepted 'best' technique does stretch neck and shoulders to get the best 'line', and you need to be flexible enough to get there without discomfort. Field archers may need additional leg and torso flexibility for some of the more awkward shots. You will probably find, too, that general training adds all-round flexibility demands that definitely exceed the average TV remote user requirement.
 Speed The last of the big four, Speed is a real priority for many sports. But archery is not a response sport, nor a speed sport, and doesn't rely on explosive power or rapid motion. There's a bit of evidence that better archers respond to a clicker faster, but that's about it. Very few archers would train for speed at all just to shoot.  
 Visual acuity Visual acuity is the ability to resolve images; that is, to see small things clearly. It's hard to shoot something you can't see, and hard to aim with a blurred sight and target. There's even some evidence that peak performance archery can be compromised by even modest reductions in vision, though with normal vision, you should be able to hit the ten at 90m every time... Normal vision, of course, isn't all that common, especially in a sport that includes 40-yr old wrinklies and people who gave up football because they couldn't see the ball without glasses. And even normal vision is compromisd by bright light, dim light, lack of fluids and other factors. So we can expect to pay some attention to the vision thing.
Incidentally, there are a couple of other visual capabilities that matter; for example, peripheral vision can be important in picking up wind cues.
 Agility Ability to move from one position to another rapidly. Largely, of course, to do with a combination of strength, speed and flexibility. Not a big issue for archery.  
 Balance The thing that stops you falling over. Archery isn't quite tightrope-walking, but most target archers shoot standing up, and body sway is not desirable. Stance and posture matter a lot, but a good sense of balance can be a help here - again, more for field archers who find themselves standing on top of a lumpy tree stump and aiming for a bunny shot.
  Clinical/medical condition
This may sound obvious, but being ill does bad things for fitness of all kinds. Even a cold can be debilitating, and there are worse things out there. Not many of them preclude archery, but few make it easier. (Me, I get hay fever. Go on - try and find a more stupid thing to do with hay fever than stand in the middle of a grassy field on a sunny day with a gentle breeze blowing*). Whatever, medical condition is an important part of fitness, even in archery; it's common sense you should take it into account in training, preparation and shooting.
*OK, so wearing a space helmet full of grass pollen would be more stupid.