What Muscles Does Archery Work?

If you take your time and think for a second, the answer is pretty straightforward.

Archery works with your arm muscle, your back, and your shoulders. And maybe with your hip if you stretch it too far. 

But on a serious note, what muscles does archery work?

According to USA Archery, Archery works with your deltoids, latissimus dorsi, biceps, forearms, traps, triceps, core, and hip muscles. These muscles are primarily located on your chest, back, shoulders, and arms. 

Let’s find out how archery works on those different muscles and impact their enhancement. 

Does Archery Build Muscle

Of course, it does!

Archery is a physically demanding sport that engages different muscles of your upper body. In the long run, archery has several physical benefits, and that includes muscle growth too.

Practicing archery consistently over a period of time will help you build and tone muscles throughout the body. 

In addition to that, targeted strength and conditioning exercises focused on archery bolster the growth of your muscle.

An image of the muscles effected by archery.
Source: reddit.com

What Muscles Does Archery Work?

The drawing and releasing of the bowstring itself involve most of the muscle movements, activating specific muscles.

Other than that, your stance, posture, and other movements also impact different muscles throughout your upper body. 

Let’s go through the engaged muscles one by one-

1. Shoulders

We’ll start off with the shoulders, as this is the muscle mostly affected by archery. 

The deltoid muscles in the shoulders play a crucial role in drawing the bow and holding it steady during aiming. They are responsible for raising and rotating the arms, providing the necessary power for an accurate shot.

During the aiming phase, the deltoids help stabilize the shoulders, ensuring a steady hold and precise aim. 

According to Statpearl’s article, 2021, the anterior deltoid is involved in raising the arms to reach the target, while the lateral deltoid assists in keeping the arms at a level position during aiming.

2. Back

Archery heavily engages the muscles in the upper and lower back, including the latissimus dorsi and trapezius. 

These muscles are involved in pulling the bowstring backward, creating tension, and supporting the archer’s posture.

Fun fact: The latissimus dorsi is the largest muscle in the back.

3. Arms

Both the biceps and triceps in the arms are actively used during archery. 

While the biceps are responsible for bending the elbow during the draw, the triceps aid in extending the arm during the release phase.

Biceps work to maintain tension on the bowstring, ensuring stability for an accurate shot.

The triceps come into play during the release phase when the archer lets go of the bowstring. 

The triceps assist in extending the arm to release the tension in the bowstring smoothly and efficiently.

4. Wrists & Forearms

Another important muscle that’s heavily involved in archery is the wrist muscle which helps in stability and grip strength. 

The anterior forearm muscle is in charge of bending the fingers and wrist.  

While the posterior forearm muscle straightens the wrist and fingers. 

These muscles work together to control the bowstring and maintain accuracy, helping you concentrate better in archery.

5. Core

The core muscles, such as the abdominal and oblique muscles, play a vital role in stabilizing the archer’s posture. 

A strong core provides a solid foundation for the upper body’s movements and helps maintain balance during the shot.

A strong core helps an archer maintain proper shooting form over extended archery sessions, reducing the likelihood of fatigue-induced form breakdown and maintaining consistent shot execution.

6. Hips

The hip muscles, particularly the hip flexors, and adductors, are engaged during the drawing motion. 

They assist in aligning the body properly and maintaining the archer’s stance while preparing for the shot.

Does Archery Make You Lopsided?

Unfortunately, Archery over a long course of time has the potential to make an individual lopsided if they consistently use the same side of their body for drawing and shooting the bow. 

The repetitive motion of drawing the bowstring and holding the bow can lead to muscle development on the dominant side, which might create an imbalance between the muscles on the dominant and non-dominant sides. 

To counteract this, professional archers look to adopt targeted muscle exercise for balanced muscle development. 

Doing so also significantly reduces the risk of injury. 

Good posture is important for balanced muscle growth in Archery
Source: reddit.com

Exercises to Improve Muscles for Archery 

Pro archers prefer these exercise routines to keep them in optimal form for archery. 

1. Shoulder Press

The Shoulder Press primarily targets the deltoid muscles in the shoulders. 

This exercise involves pressing weights, usually dumbbells upward from shoulder level to fully extended arms. As you perform the movement, the deltoids contract, building strength, and endurance. 

Shoulder presses can improve drawing and holding the bowstring, helping you achieve better stability and accuracy in archery.

2. Bent Over Rows

Bent-Over Rows are excellent for targeting the muscles in the upper and mid-back, including the latissimus dorsi and trapezius. 

During the exercise, you retract your shoulder blades and pull the barbell weight toward your chest. 

This motion effectively engages the back muscles, which are crucial for maintaining posture and stability during the shooting process in archery.

3. Bicep Curls

Bicep Curls specifically focus on the biceps in the front of the upper arms. 

By curling the weights towards your shoulders, the biceps contract, leading to increased strength in the arm muscles. 

Strong biceps are essential for drawing the bowstring back with control and precision in archery.

4. Wrist Curls

Wrist Curls target the forearm muscles, specifically the flexor muscles on the palm side. By curling the barbell towards your body using only your wrists, you engage and strengthen the forearms. 

It helps with grips and control.

5. Plank

So far, it’s all been about arms and shoulders. Time to focus on our cores. 

I for one, really hate doing planks. But I can’t deny, this really works wonders if you’re willing to go through it. 

The Plank exercise engages the entire core, including the abdominal, oblique, and lower back muscles. 

By holding a push-up position with forearms on the ground, the core muscles are activated to stabilize the body. 

A strong and stable core is essential for maintaining a steady shooting stance and reducing unnecessary movements and target panic in archery.

6. Hip Abduction

To finish it off, we’ll try the hip abduction exercise.

Hip Abduction focuses on the hip abductor muscles on the outer side of the hips. Lying on your side and raising the top leg engages these muscles. 

Strengthening the hip abductors helps in maintaining proper hip alignment and resilience during the shooting stance in archery.

Want more exercises to improve your game? Check out this amazing video guide from a pro, Jake Kaminski!


What muscles should be sore after archery?

Long sessions of archery can lead to muscle strain injury. Archers experience muscle strains usually in the arms, wrists, shoulders, and neck. You might also experience stiff back muscles after long archery sessions.

What are the injury risks of archery?

Common archery injury risks involve the shoulder’s rotator cuff or labral tear. Correct draw weight and good shooting form can help you avoid such injuries. Finding the optimal draw weight for yourself is the key to this. 

Is archery good for the brain?

Definitely! Archery is a high-concentration sport that helps your brain to improve focus through repetitive practice.


Hope that helped you understand what muscles does archery work on. 

If you have any further queries about the topic, feel free to let me know!

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