With the ever-increasing rise in popularity of gun sports and hobbies, such as air rifle shooting, clay pigeon shooting and, most recently, airsoft, more and more people are finding themselves taking part in these activities. For those who take part for the sheer fun of the sport, improving your technique may not be at the forefront of your priorities. However, for the more competitive participants in these sports, training and technique are a vital part of getting the best performance on the day. Although you may not think it, there are plenty of exercises you can do, either in the gym or at home, to improve your shooting technique and ability. Here, we break down just how you can go from not hitting a barn door, to being the next American sniper.
First off, we’ll be looking at improving your ability to perform while fatigued, as for long shooting competitions or airsoft, there is a surprising amount of physical exertion. HIIT (high-intensity interval training) is a method that looks at training the body using short periods of high-intensity training, with short breaks in between each. Note: this also helps to improve recovery time, which is a bonus! Typically, a HIIT routine lasts around 20-30 minutes and can affect the body pretty quickly, which can be rewarding. These sessions can be completed at home, or at the gym and can be a great way of squeezing in some exercise when you have little time to spare.
Back and Shoulders
Ranging from day to day walking and sitting posture to feeling confident with a heavy gun in your hands, working on your back and shoulders can help a bunch with your shooting. A great exercise to build up your back strength can be back extensions, done using a hyperextension bench in the gym. Either using your own bodyweight or holding an additional weight to your chest, these exercises work the whole of your back. Similarly, pull-ups are a great way to work your back muscles, while improving arm and shoulder strength along with your grip strength. Regardless of how many you can do, even if it’s just one, pull-ups can be a great thing to add into the exercise routine for your shoulders and back.
Core strength is continuously talked about in the fitness world as it really should be at the centre of your workout. Even if you’re working another area of your body, flexing and working your core muscles is a great habit to get into. Having a strong core will help with shooting posture and allowing you to hold a steady position for a good length of time. When carrying out target shooting, this can be vital as you’ll need to hold a consistent stance when firing an accurate shot.
There is a real range of core exercises, and many of them can be done at home using only your body weight. The military is a big fan of callisthenics, which are exercises carried out using minimal equipment and mostly relying on bodyweight. Exercises such as sit-ups, crunches and planks can be a great way to work on your central area and build those muscle groups.
Whether you’re carrying around airsoft rifles at your local skirmish site, shooting targets at a range or pursuing any other gun-shooting sport, holding a gun for a prolonged period of time can be tiring, especially on your hands and forearms. One great way to ensure your arms don’t tire is to work them with a range of exercises. Similar to core exercises, there are a number of these that can be done at home, but also plenty that you can do in the gym making use of the equipment there. Firstly, hand grippers are a simple, cheap and easy way of improving your grip strength day-to-day. These small pieces of kit are far from expensive and can provide significant improvements just using these alone. Ideally, you’ll want to be able to perform three or four sets of ten with the weight you choose, then work upwards as you become more comfortable with the weight. Even after 30 days of training, you’ll notice a difference in your hands and forearms.
Other exercises include farmers carry using two heavy items, either kettlebells in the gym or water buckets at home. You’ll need to have a decent amount of room for this, ideally 20 to 40 feet. Carry the two objects back and forth to complete the repetitions, and you can increase the weight or increase the speed at which you walk.
Do you have any great exercises that have improved your shooting? Let us know on Facebook and Twitter! For more information on shooting and improving technique, you can visit us here.