How to Create an Archery Training Program

Girl shooting her bow

Creating an archery training program is more simple than you might think. As long as you have key factors in it, a well laid out presentation to input data into it and see progression, you will be on for a winner.

Creating a program will help you progress, learn, become stronger (both mentally and physically), and enjoy your archery as you see the journey progress.

This article will show you how to create, implement and execute an archery training program that will give you confidence to grow within the sport and progress to any level that you want to! Having a robust program will create a structured week, structured archery lifestyle and show goals and steps along the journey.

Benefits of a training diary and training program

There are many benefits to having a thoroughly thought through and planned training program for your archery journey. Being able to plan out what you are going to be doing and when, how you will progress, what your goals and dreams are within the sport. Having a program will help structure your week and your plan, knowing what you are completing and ticking off for the week.

Archery girls training

Planning a session will help keep motivation and concentration. You will not feel like you can slack off because you have lost concentration and direction, you have goals to meet for that session thanks to the program.

There is also the other side of the coin of over training and then burning yourself out and losing the enthusiasm to get back to training. Having a strict training program will ensure training is done properly, neither too much nor too little in order to progress.

While programs need adapting and altering after the first couple of weeks to work out any kinks or strong dislikes or likes, having a structure will help a lot. Sticking to it and trusting the process is important as well. Odds are you will not see progression after the first couple of weeks, that is not a reason to give up and go back to the old ways. Sticking with it and following the journey will get you to the results you want.

Where to start

Before starting to create a training diary, it is important to know what you need to work on. Determine areas that need to be worked on. Whether that is archery specific, gym progress, mental progress. You need to know where you are beginning and what will be your end product.

Goal setting infographic

You will need to know what sort of regime you can stick to and progress with as well. It could be worth starting by writing out what your normal week looks like and where you can fit in gym work, mental strength work and archery training itself.

It is a very helpful and productive thing to do before planning your program is to make sure you have objectives to hit along the journey. Making sure you have a purpose for each session ahead of planning will help progression happen quicker.

Also remember to praise yourself. You are working hard to achieve your goals, it is essential to praise yourself and recognise what you have done well that session. If it is simply completing the goal of the session, going above the goal or even just showing up on a day. Reward yourself.

Setting goals

As a starting point of writing a training program, goals need to be set. Without goals, where are you going? What’s the purpose? What do you want to achieve?

Many of you will have heard about SMART goals. This is the easiest way to set goals and progress is through the SMART system.

SMART stands for:







Let us run through what each of these mean and how they influence a training program. Each goal should meet the SMART criteria.

Being specific simply means they are specific to effective planning. Start the plan with clear and precise words, use action words. Being clear and specific will help your goals be easier to achieve, and how to get started.

Measurable goals make it easy to track your progression and goals. Having measurable goals also means you can see when the goal is achieved and done.

Attainability is essential to setting goals. Being able to achieve and attain it means you will build confidence. Being reasonable with setting a goal and realistic that it is attainable will mean progression will be seen easily.

Relevant to your values and long-term objectives on your archery journey.

Time-based gives an element of prioritization and motivation. Having an end date will create a sense of needing to achieve by X date, it will encourage and drive you to hit the targets and goals set for the date.

Within archery, goals being set could be having a higher draw weight, doing more reps on bow training, creating a warmup that works well, shooting a certain volume, hitting a certain score, all of these can be achieved through SMART goals.

Defining goals

In order to set SMART goals, you need to know where you need to improve within archery and your training. If that is gym and physical training, archery specific, mental management, equipment based. Each goal should help towards the overall end goal that you want to achieve. Whether that is shooting at the Olympics, bowhunting and shooting a big buck, increasing your archery practice and archery skills, each goal will feed into the bigger and end goal.

Sometimes a good way of getting your goals is by defining what your end goal is and what you want to achieve overall, and work backwards. Cutting it into smaller goals and achievable objectives, using SMART goals.

The best archers in the world all started as beginners, so why can’t you be the best like them, if that is what you want. You just have to get from A to B, with a few stops on the way. It is important to understand that your journey might not be on the same timeline as friends, or someone you know. Everyone should have individual goals and achievements that they want to achieve. While the end goal might be the same, no two people have the exact same circumstances and ways to that final destination.

Physical Training Plan and Goals

Physical training is essential to improve in archery. Shooting arrows is just one element of archery, having strong muscle groups, muscle memory, and overall great physical training help get the skill level up and up. Having a robust and achievable gym program will help to create strong archery muscles that can improve your scores, draw weight, and overall physical mass weight of your bow.

Plank exercises for archery

Your gym and physical training program should be aimed at your skill level and strength in order to get the best results. If you start too low, you might not see the improvements you want, if you start too high, you will be prone to injury a lot faster. Each training session that you take part in in the gym or during physical training should have the goals to grow your muscle groups, increase cardio limits, create a stronger body for archery.

Physical training will benefit archery, provided it is done properly. Increasing bow arm strength will help you help your bow steady at full draw. Exercises such as push ups, planks, single arm dumbbell rows, rowing machine stints will all help with upper body and arm strength. Push ups seem like the most logical none equipment arm strength exercise. However, it is important to make sure your push up technique is approved and proper, to avoid injuring shoulders.

Core muscles are key to archery, as having a strong core will help keep you upright, straight, and strong whilst doing your shot. Planks and sit ups are great exercises for the core muscles, they require no equipment (unless you want to progress and make them more difficult). Side planks develop and improve the core muscles in the abdomen, along with the interior and exterior obliques. Rowing machines are great overall archery muscle workouts. They work on the core, lower body and upper body, whilst also adding an element of cardio.

Woman doing sit ups

Introducing resistance bands into any physical training program is a great way of making any exercises slightly harder and more progressive. Resistance bands can be used by themselves as well, to replicate the shot execution, shot poundage, back muscle movement in the shot. They also can be used anywhere without any hassle.

If you are looking at doing long competitions, such as target competitions or field competitions, or even bowhunting, squats would be a great addition to your training sessions. Having strong legs will help with any lower back pain. Standing up all day, walking to and from the target, or up hills for field archery means that having a strong lower body, legs and lower back are essential. Squats are a great way to keep your legs strong and ready.

The great thing about a physical training program is that SMART goals can definitely be set within it. Reps can be increased, weight can be increased, the amount of times you actually go to the gym within a week can be increased. All things that will help get you to your end goal within archery. It is all about the different paths into the main goal that will get you there. Working hard at the gym will benefit to no end, provided it is done properly and safely.

Cardio exercises are a great way of helping create a lower heart rate, to keep steady and level whilst shooting in high pressure situations. Having a lower heart rate will help with anxiety as well, keeping the heart rate lower will benefit your archery. Running, cycling, rowing can all be great exercises to help with archery.

Another great fitness trick is yoga. Keeping lean, stretched and fit for archery can be very beneficial. Stretching out your lower back, triceps, core muscles on a regular basis will help reduce the risk of injury as well.

For beginners, try going to the gym once a week, increasing to two times a week once you are comfortable with that. For intermediate archers, try 2-3 times a week and professionals, talk to your coach and decide on a structured week that works best with your training.

Disclaimer – It is always advised to work with your archery coach or a professional personal trainer to make sure you can participate without a higher risk of injury.

Archery specific training program and goals

Creating a program that will benefit your archery is easy enough to do. Sticking to it, implementing it around daily life is the hard bit. Giving it a chance and working with it, progressing with it and learning with it is also difficult. But, give it a chance and you will see the benefits and the growth within yourself and your archery.

An archery specific training program should involve things such as arrow volume, poundage that will be used, distances being shot, mental focus and any technical changes that are being worked on. The program is specific to just archery, the gym is totally separate.

Bow training is a big part of archery progression, so this should be put into an archery specific training program. Bow training is creating muscle specific progressions. Being able to hold the bow at full draw for a certain amount of time, letting down and going again.

Bow training

Creating a progressive bow training program will give you something to strive for. It could be simply increasing the amount of time you do per rep. Or increasing the number of reps. Make sure you start with goals that are easily attainable. So that you do not get put off or disheartened. It is all about the growth and progression on the journey, not racing to the finish before you are ready.

Your mental game and process needs to be strong when shooting. Keeping positive thoughts throughout a session or competition is imperative to archery. Working on this during training sessions will create almost a barrier and buffer to be able to work on. You can also work on mental games and process away from the range. It could be on a five minute break at work. Using mental processes to imagine shooting that perfect shot, replicating it in your brain and imagery to then replicate at the range.

There are a lot of books that can help with mental management and progression. Such as Mental Management – With Winning in Mind and Shot IQ.

With Winning in Mind book

Another side to archery specific training programs is to work on technique changes and additions. If you change something in your anchor, for example, make sure it is then worked on in the next session, to create that progression. Working with your ArcheryUP instructor to get a technical progression section in your program is essential. Keeping up with good technique and changes will help progression come quicker.

Setting goals that are specific to a sport are very specific to individuals and their coaches. The goals need to be what the archer wants to achieve, not what they think they should achieve. Each person will progress at their own level with archery. Whether this is poundage increase, volume increase, distance increase.

All of these goals need to be progressed at a level that they will be achieved, to ensure discouragement does not occur. Increasing all of these things take time to achieve and ensure they are done properly. Increasing distance, if not done at the right time, could mean the archer can not hit the target, due to lack of technique, poundage, and knowledge.

Rest is important too!

Having rest days in your training program is essential to your success. If your body is tired and worn out, you will not be able to progress at any rate that you want. Make sure to add in a couple to a few days per week for rest time. This means no gym work, no archery work, just resting and recovering your body.

Rest is important

Participating in rest days has proven to help progression. Your muscles will be able to build stronger quicker after rest. Resting and recovering will help reduce fatigue and burn out during the season that you are working hard on. It also helps rejuvenate your mind, so it is ready to learn more and progress more in your next session with your ArcheryUP instructor.

Resting will also help make sure you do not become obsessed with the program. Having an obsession is not necessarily a good thing. Your mental game needs to be positive, and punishing yourself for having a rest is obviously not the end goal that you want to be at. Enjoy having a rest day, see it as very beneficial and progressional within your journey.

Keeping track in a training diary

Keeping a record of how a training program is going, along with having one, is a great way to track progress and the journey. Having a diary to write down thoughts, feelings, what you did in the session, what you liked and disliked about the session, if you did more or less than the session was meant to, is a great way to keep track of what you are doing.

It could be something simple like an actual diary, or maybe a gym specific/archery specific diary, or even just a notebook with the date at the top of the page. Logging arrow volume during a practice session, mental practice, how many arrows were shot at blank bale, if anything changed in the technique throughout the session. All of these things are important to look back on and learn from.

If you have a session with your ArcheryUp instructor and change your technique, or change your equipment, make sure to note it down in your training diary. This is a great note to look back on later if you feel lost. You can look back at what was changed, how it was changed and how to make sure it stays within the shot routine.

Positive Affirmations

It is very important to have positive affirmations in your life. This will help encourage yourself with your archery journey, keep you positive and confident and have a lot of self belief.

Positive Affirmations

Writing these positive affirmations in your training diary will help embed them into your thoughts and mindset for when you are training and competing. Positive affirmations could be something like,

‘I shoot strong shots.’

‘I shoot shots that go in the 10’

‘I believe in myself and I achieve my goals’

All things that will help you believe in yourself, and conquer any negative thoughts that might be floating around. Having positive affirmations that you dedicate to every day of your training, you will achieve your goals sooner. Purely because you have more faith in the journey and the goals that have been set.

Affirmations also give you motivation to want to achieve, to be the best you can be, due to continuously creating a positive mindset associated with training and progressing.

You might be asking, how do I create positive affirmations that will work for me? Well. You need to find the negative aspects of your archery, aspects you do not quite have full faith in yet. Write them down and then underneath, rephrase them in a positive way. Once you have committed to a couple of simple positive affirmations, write them down in your training diary. Write them at the end or beginning of every day that you train to embed the positivity in your mind.

After a short while you should see a difference in your archery and your mindset towards the aspects you were working on.

Evaluation stage

It is important to evaluate the program you have created and implemented. It is worth giving it a few weeks trial time, to let it bed in and developments to happen. Make sure to be critical of the progression, timings, sets and reps you have been given in the program. Assess everything that has gone into it and whether you feel like it is working or not.

Evaluation process

If it is working and you are seeing progressions, no matter how big or small, make sure to praise yourself for dedicating time and effort into it. Plan the net four to six weeks of the plan to keep the momentum going and the skills developing.

On the flip side, if you feel like it has not worked for you, write down what you enjoyed, what you did not enjoy, where you think you could progress more. Sit down with your ArcheryUP instructor and pick apart the pros and cons of the program. Question whether the program fits in with your week, your work, school, etc. Do you feel like you could benefit for less time on the program, or maybe more. You know how you feel, so it is up to you what you need, do not need, or want from the program moving forward.

Try not to jump to conclusions too quickly. Giving a program time will help it level out, show progression, or show the weaknesses in the program. You will be able to assess what is working, the time scales you want, everything like this.

On and off seasons

During the year there will be seasons where any athlete will work harder than other parts of the year. Usually working harder is in the off season (off from competitions), to be able to come out and be stronger, better equipped, mentally stronger for the competition season.

Archery training

During the off season, try working harder on the reps you do, the weight you are using, more of exercises and SPT bow training. This will give more confidence ahead of the next competition season, more strength, more experience.

It is very important during the ‘on season’ (aka, competition season), to allow yourself to slow up a bit with training. Competitions will take a toll on the body. They are more stressed, more tense, the body goes through a lot more than when just training. So, training less ahead of big competitions is good. However, it is important to continue training. Finding the fine balance between these seasons will help progression a lot easier.

To summarize, shoot more during off season, train harder, build the strength you need to carry forward into the next season. Create a program that will push you to grow and progress ahead of the next season.

Also remember to have a break at the end of the on season. Working with a new training program will likely tire your body out, as the aim of the program is to progress your sporting journey. Having a break is beneficial to allow your muscles and body to recover and be ready to go again.

Ready to start your archery journey?

ArcheryUp are ready to help you get on your journey. With instructors in every state, we come to you to make sure your sessions work with your schedule and your timings. From beginners through to experienced competition archers, we are here to help you on your journey.

If you are looking to learn more about archery, head over to our blog to learn all about archery from our Ultimate Guide.

Mimi Landstrom

I have shot since the age of 7, after starting archery at a summer camp. As a junior I won National and county titles, whilst breaking county records throughout the years. As a senior, I still compete at a national level and travel to compete at the Indoor World Series.  After university I went to Summer Camp in Pennsylvania, Camp Westmont. I taught summer to all ages throughout the summer and loved every second!  Being able to stand on the shooting line and have myself, my bow and arrow is my idea of heaven. It’s peaceful, calming and an escape from work and life stresses.