Free to Move – Fit to Shoot ( A Unique Programme for Shooters)
As a shooter I am very aware of the demands our sport places on the body. I have met shooters so afflicted with neck and shoulder damage that they require surgery or worse have to give up the sport they love. Although tales of being unable to put on shooting stockings without assistance due to lower back stiffness or struggling to remove a sweater because recoil has rendered the wearer unable to lift their arms are a humorous part of shoot day chatter, they are also indicative of the chronic effects of our one sided sport.
Jokes aside, the effects of recoil are cumulative and cannot be underestimated. This video clip of John Heagren ( Bisley Shooting Ground Shooting Manager) clearly demonstrates the forces our bodies are subjected to when we pull the trigger. Think about how many cartridges you shoot on an average day and multiply that by days annually and the number of years you’ve been shooting. Now you have an estimate of how much recoil is stored in your body.
Olympic shooters have dedicated training regimes aimed at increasing aerobic fitness, developing core strength and sport-specific muscle toning. Whilst most of us don’t require such a rigorous regime, what is required to perform well in the field?
- Aerobic Fitness means having the stamina to get up the hill carrying your kit without needing 10 minutes to recover before you can shoot straight.
- Flexibility is key not just in shooting but in everyday life. Shooting is unique in requiring the ability to rotate the upper body well and keep the shoulders level to line in order to address a crossing shot. In addition you must raise the front arm diagonally across your body as the swing progresses.
- Balance as in not falling over – essential for both safety and performance, but also left/right body balance and muscle tone of the fore-arm, bicep, tricep, shoulder and core muscles.
- Posture– a good shooting stance requires a relaxed but straight back. Achieving this “good” posture requires muscular support, correct alignment and flexibility.
- Muscle Tone – For example, your front hand lifts and points your gun, but also provides fine line and lead control. Often this is the weaker hand and gun mount is dominated by the stronger rear hand. Sport specific remedial training can improve left/right balance and help both hands work together for better performance.
- Vision is a skill that requires Focus and Eye Movement; It is vital for sustained visual contact with the target and follow through. As with all skills this can be honed with appropriate exercises.
What You Can Do?
- Walking is a great way to prepare legs, lungs and heart for a day in the field. However, good technique will prevent injury to your knees, hips and back.
- Develop greater body awareness
- Learn to manage the neutral position of your joints and regularly mobilise your joints through their full range of motion
- Appropriate stretching will help you attain and maintain flexibility, balance and posture.
- Sport Specific stretching exercises will help your body recover from and prevent recoil leading to long term problems with neck, jaw, shoulders and back.
- Learn and practice a good breathing technique to help achieve a state of relaxed concentration whilst shooting without compromising safety.
- Practice mindfulness to help you learn to “let go” and allow your instinct to lead rather than be compromised by an over rational self.
- Join my 12 week Free to Move – Fit to Shoot Programme which encompasses all the above.
As a Method Putkisto instructor and shooter, I am uniquely placed with an understanding of how imbalances in the body need to be addressed on many levels – including mind, bio-mechanical and physiological. Free to Move-Fit to Shoot is a 12 Week Programme designed to address the effects of recoil and help you hone the skills required to perform in the field.