Breathing techniques for bowhunting
This is the time of year when every archer visits their respective archery shop to have their bow tuned up for the season, if they have not already. Then, after picking up the freshly tuned piece of equipment, the struggle of regaining your mechanics from months of inactivity hits your muscles. Arrows fly everywhere as your try to put things on paper and work backward to your max distance. The same happened with me. With time always a factor, practice does not always happen every day as we would like. What I realized a major influencing factor determining the consistency of my arrow was my breathing.
How often do we focus on our breathing when shooting? Sure, we all know the classic methods, but we fail to be able to use them during crunch time since they are not practiced. In order to fine tune my shooting, researching breathing techniques and experimenting was in order. Trying several different methods helped me find what worked with my body before making a concerted effort to improve my breathing techniques. Before I made a conscious effort to control my breathing, my breath was sporadic, forcing my draw stamina to be much shorter and overall consistency to be lower.
The three methods I experimented with are as follows:
1) Classic. Classic breathing is the way in which you breathe to shoot a gun. This involves taking a deep breath, exhaling completely, then taking half a breath and letting it out slowly while aiming and shooting. While I found this method to work okay, I couldn't help but feel like I was rushing while anchoring my pins. While letting air slowly escape from my lungs it was like trying to beat the clock in getting the arrow downrange before I ran out of breath. Rushed shots with a bow don’t end well.
2) Breath and a half: Through watching videos and reading even yoga blogs I found a general method to take deep breath, let half out, and hold through shot. I found my body responded better to this method than the first since my body was not moving. Without steadily exhaling through I felt more steady through the shot. However, I still found my muscles starving for oxygen. The classic method seemed to give my muscles more oxygen and this method helped me become steady faster, but there was something missing.
3) Super Saturate: Watching a video by bowhunting legend Randy Ulmer was the ticket. Ulmer advised to "super saturate" the body with three breaths. One deep breath before draw. A second while drawing and a third as you settle the pins, but exhaling a quarter of your air. This not only gives your muscles plenty of oxygen but helps keep your chest expanded and your scapulas taught, steady for the shot, my college hunting partner and biology major pointed out. Coincidentally, Ulmer also explained this in the video. With the saturation of oxygen to my muscles and using filled lungs to help steady my upper body, I found my best consistency. Forming a habit of this routine fairly quickly was not difficult. I felt focused and relaxed while settling my pins and sending my arrows downrange.
There are various different breathing methods to learn. Finding what works best for your body is important, but making the conscious effort to work on this simple step might be the difference between food in November and tag soup. It’s a simple aspect of the game worth visiting to make the long wait for your one shot worth it.
Want more archery hunting tips? Make plans to attend the Outdoor News Deer & Turkey Show Feb. 26-28, 2016 at the MN State Fairgrounds. http://www.mndeershow.com/