Building draw strength for heavy bows

Discussion in 'Bowhunting Africa' started by stech, Jul 16, 2018.

  1. stech

    stech New Member

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    What did you guys do to build up your draw strength to handle bows in the 80, 90, 100lb+ ranges? A strength training routine at the gym or simply pulling a bow back a lot and increasing the poundage over time? Any tips are appreciated.
     

  2. BRICKBURN

    BRICKBURN AH ENABLER SUPER MODERATOR CONTRIBUTOR LIFETIME TITANIUM BENEFACTOR AH Ambassador

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    I did a combination of exercise and slowly bringing the draw weight up to the desired level.

    Can't recall the source, but I think it was a couple of Bow Hunting Doctors that came up with it.

    I still use it to start out after a lay off.

    Screen Shot 2018-07-16 at 08.49.24.png Screen Shot 2018-07-16 at 08.49.32.png Screen Shot 2018-07-16 at 08.49.39.png
     

  3. mrpoindexter

    mrpoindexter AH Fanatic

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    I did mine with just shooting and cranking up poundage. I noticed my archery scores stopped increasing when I was working on power instead of accuracy. They didn't go down, but my progression on higher scores shooting Vegas rounds stopped during the power build up. I still cannot score within maybe 10-15 points of my target bow (@60 lbs) when I shoot my heavy hunting bow (@90 lbs).
     

  4. mrpoindexter

    mrpoindexter AH Fanatic

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    What draw weight are you at now and how long have you been shooting (at that weight and how long in archery in general)?

    Are you looking to get enough power to hunt a particular animal? What is your draw length? The shorter your draw, the more weight you need to compensate for the shorter power cycle of the bow.

    Do you have a time period you are looking to accomplish this in? While we can build muscles relatively quickly, the tendons and ligaments don't strengthen as fast.

    For reference, I started archery at 44lbs draw weight on March of 2016. In August of that year, I was at 81lbs on my Cape Buffalo hunt. I didn't start the weight push until about June or so. Jumping to 60lbs was pretty easy. From there up, it was some work but the body had no issues with it. When I got up over 70lbs, I could feel the soreness.

    A year later, I let myself slip back to 60lbs for all my shooting but went back up to 83-84 lbs for a hunt and worked back up. I found soreness in unexpected places - my bow arm on the forearm where the tendons from my thumb attached to the bone. It was bad enough that to prevent further strain, I decided to draw with the bow in the cradle of my hand and then when at full draw I would rotate my bow into the correct position on my hand. While not proper form, it allowed me to get in the reps I needed while avoiding strain on an area of my body that could handle the weight but not the repetitions.

    Now, I was able to get up to 90lbs and that maxed out my bow and is at or above anything I will ever need unless I can find a way to hunt whales or they bring back the Mastedon and get one to full maturity in the next 5-10 years. I can shoot 30-35 arrows in an evening and not even be sore the next day. I have not shot more than that in a day yet. I might do the next 3D shoot with my heavy bow - still considering but it would be 130 arrows over about a day and a half. That might be too much. Either way, I want to shoot at least one Vegas round per week just to maintain the muscles. I also do Jujitsu twice per week and that certainly is helping. If I wasn't doing that, I would recommend a minimum of 2 times per week just to maintain the muscles and more than that to build muscle.

    Finally, you have to have enough protein to put on muscle. I tried to add weight and diet at the same time and had to alter my diet to increase my protein intake for muscle growth. I also found that the Atkins diet didn't leave me enough carbs for the burst strength I needed to fire my heavy bow. (I lost 30 pounds of fat in the 4 months I was increasing my draw weight by 20 pounds).
     

  5. firehuntfish

    firehuntfish AH Fanatic

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    @stech

    Unless you are naturally a big, strong guy, you are not going to reach 80lbs. plus of draw without some sort of strength building routine in my opinion. In fact, the specific muscles and tendons used to draw a bow are rarely developed through routine exercise and need to be developed through specific movements. I have guys I work with who are amateur body builders who could not draw my 72lb. every day hunting bow back on the first try simply because they had not developed the muscle group specific to that movement to the extent that I have over years of shooting.

    The quickest way to get there in my opinion would be to use the proper combination of strength building and flexibility using a few simple exercises. I would recommend using something similar to the Smith machine (below) at your gym. Any combination of push/pulling exercises that you can do on the Smith machine for your back muscles and specifically your latissimus dorsi will get you there the fastest. Seated rows starting with close-grip, and working out to wide-grip have worked best for me.

    In addition to the back exercises, I suggest good old fashioned bench presses, or push-ups if you don't have a bench. The draw cycle, done in correct form, is a pushing/pulling movement. The strength for the movement comes from your chest and tricep on your grip side, and your lateral back and shoulder on your drawing side.

    rowing smith machine.jpg

    If you don't have machine similar to the Smith, you can also use dumbbells and the exercises below:

    row 1.jpg

    I also recommend using an athletic rubber band to stretch and warm up for several minutes before doing the serious weight. I do a couple dozen push-ups , then several different stretches from various angles with the rubber band first. Just an FYI as a final thought.... Drawing 80 lbs can be achieved relatively comfortably, but drawing 90-100lbs is going to be tough regardless of how strong you get. Your goal should be the ability to draw and let down several times in a row if need be without excessively contorting your body to get the bow back. Good Luck! Hope this helps get you there!
     

  6. jeff

    jeff AH Elite

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    I am average build but some years back worked up to #110 traditional long bow that I used for a work out bow so I could shoot #70 effortlessly, it felt light and easy and all I did besides shooting a lot was to draw the work out bow x number of times a day and half of that number again left handed so I wouldn't build to lop sided. Traditional bows take more back and shoulder strength but not as much arm strength as compounds.
     

  7. mrpoindexter

    mrpoindexter AH Fanatic

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    Dang, now I am going to have to get a left handed Monster Safari so I don't end up lopsided.
     
    meigsbucks and jeff like this.

  8. russ_c

    russ_c AH Veteran

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    I used the bowfit band from Amazon


    With it, I went from 73lb draw to 88lb for my buffalo hunt last year. I just used it every other day and increased the resistance. Key is to maintain form and to keep shooting your bow.
     

  9. russ_c

    russ_c AH Veteran

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    IMG_1444.JPG

    I’d suggest wearing safety glasses when using this product, too..
     

  10. stech

    stech New Member

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    Hi guys, thank you for all your comments and apologies for my slow response.

    My draw length is 27" and my current draw weight is somewhere above 70# - my bow maxes out at 70 but I can draw it pretty easily for about 30 shots one after the other without stopping until I really start feeling it and have to stop for a bit. I have access to another bow that is somewhere around 80-83 lb draw but I'm unable to draw it back even once (it's a speed bow so the aggressive draw might make it worse as well).

    I've been doing archery in general since 2013, but on-off and haven't practiced in a while apart from just pulling the bow back to build strength (which has been more or less continuous this past year).

    There's not a particular animal I'm after or a time period to do it in. It's more of a personal challenge, so I don't mind building up over a long time, but so far I'm not seeing any results.

    I have a target set up in my backyard and I try go out once a day and just pull my 70# bow as many times as I can with an arrow nocked and pointing at the target. Usually I'll do a set of 20-30, rest for a few minutes, and then 2-3 sets of 10 and call it a day. Over time I've felt it get easier but I can't quite make the jump to the 80# bow.

    I'm not big by any means (5'8", 150 lb) so it's a bit of an uphill climb. The last time I went to the gym was a few months ago, so I've been sloppy on that front. But even when I was lifting I couldn't get that 80# to budge. I could do weighted chin-ups with 110lb hanging off my waist (260lb total weight) but still couldn't pull that damn bow back.
     

  11. mrpoindexter

    mrpoindexter AH Fanatic

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    You are not going to be able to make a jump from 70lbs to 80+ in one step and be anywhere near as successful as you would by bumping up 2-3 lbs at a time.
     

  12. barbells.and.arrows

    barbells.and.arrows AH Senior Member

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    Shooting, shooting and more shooting. Also a decent gym routine helps. Also if you have the luxury, workout then shoot your bow while you are still warm. Your accuracy is going to be pretty "meh" at best (I've lost arrows doing this ), but it's a great "burnout" after an arm/shoulder or back focused workout. For a "bow specific" type workout move, I like to hold a dumbbell in one hand while standing like I'm holding my bow and then do a row (almost like drawing my bow) towards me with the other hand using a resistance band looped around a pole. I do this on both sides just to keep things even.
     

  13. Synergy

    Synergy AH Veteran

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    what do you want to hunt? ..with modern compounds there are few animals that you can't hunt with 70#
     

  14. Ty Howard

    Ty Howard AH Veteran

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    Why does anyone need an 80 lb bow
     

  15. stech

    stech New Member

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    Why does anyone need dangerous game cartridges?
     

  16. mrpoindexter

    mrpoindexter AH Fanatic

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    Same reason I would need a .416 Rigby.
     

  17. russ_c

    russ_c AH Veteran

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    Because they’re fun!
     

  18. mrpoindexter

    mrpoindexter AH Fanatic

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    It does take some hard work and dedication to handle the weight. I just finished one day of a 2-day 3D shoot with the 90lb Monster. It is kind of funny watching the Tarr's shake every time one of my arrows hits. That said, I was exhausted by the end of the day. I would probably have 40-50 more points if I shot my 60lb target bow.
     

  19. Synergy

    Synergy AH Veteran

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    well, I think the analogy is not correct...you don´t kill with "the energy" of an arrow...

    I'm the owner of an 80 pounder (compound) and to be fair...IMO is not needed to hunt (up to Cape buffalo or even water buffalo size)

    Anyway, if the "need" to use a 80+ pounds bow is just for the fun of it...workout and GO! :LOL:. A 80# compound is not so heavy, you just pass for 80# , you do not need to hold it at full draw. My heavy trad bows are way more challenge.
     
    Last edited: Aug 8, 2018

  20. mrpoindexter

    mrpoindexter AH Fanatic

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    No, the arrow kills via hemorrhage but the energy is what pushes the arrow through and getting out the other side of the animal strongly aids in tracking. True that one does not need 80lbs for category 1-3 animals, but for category 4+ you need that. It also helps if you hit bone to have some extra power to push through.
     
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