Every spring when the weather breaks, the sun comes out, and the ground dries, the archery targets start popping up in a lot of yards. (At least in my neighborhood). Something about spring revitalizes the up and coming hunting season.
I own both a traditional bow as well as a compound. The reason being is I don’t consider myself a highly skilled archer, and in a pinch when the foliage opens up, I can dial in my compound bow within two weeks and competently hit what I need to within 40 yards. That is a huge difference between my recurve which I will only engage a target at 20 yards. Hey, I’m a realist and I probably won’t be making any YouTube videos soon.
I love shooting my recurve as long as its reasonable. Any chance to extend the season ethically and I’ll give it a go.
That being said, I am not writing about technique or the skill of archery. What I am talking about is something even more important, the ability to physically initiate any shot as tension is applied on the bow.
In my opinion, traditional and compound bows have very different movements patterns when it comes to the shot cycle (especially the unique variability of the traditional bow). The good news is it doesn’t matter. We are not talking skill training. We are talking about improving your “Reflexive Strength”.
It is simply the body’s ability to anticipate and respond to movement before and as it happens. The result is increasing the trunk or torso’s ability to absorb and project power.
I enjoy both Archery and Bowhunting. Both are one of the many recreational hobbies, although my real passion is helping everyday people regain lost movement and strength. This is especially true if that means helping a person return to their own personal passions (This applies to a gardener as much as it does the bowhunter).
That being said as every bowhunter knows, archery is a “perishable skill” for the vast majority of us. Without well balanced trunk strength, the draw will never be quality. Most of us know, during the draw, if pain is present, the shot will be less than desirable. The human body is sneaky and will find a way around the pain without asking permission. Bad movement patterning. Not what we want.
Enter (OS) Original Strength.
No yoga, no stretching, no exercise.
I often use the term “Redneck Yoga” when I am talking to groups of people to describe the effectiveness of this movement program. I affectionatly use the term to define a remarkably simple and extremely effective program to improve strength. Most importantly, it’s easy to teach- it’s easy to learn.
The simple intention of OS is to return the individual’s Original Strength.
And if performed, it delivers.
OS is both corrective and strength enhancing. There are a few movement systems out there, and some are quite good. But Original Strength is hands down, the most approachable and “field expedient”.
It works on everyone.
Yes, including you, the bowhunter.
We always teach, the human body is one piece and not a series of moving components. All true strength originates from the human trunk (commonly referred to as core musculature). OS neurologically resets the Nervous System which is a critical starting point, especially in rehabilitation. It addresses the cause of the issue, and not just the symptom.
We begin by “rebooting” the nervous system through a series of basic developmental movements we used to strengthen both our musculature and our nervous system when we were in our initial stages of growth.
These 5 Developmental Movements are:
- Diaphragmic breathing
- Head movement (both turns and nodding)
- Crawling and cross crawling
By employing these movements, we begin to:
- Strengthen our trunk (via the diaphragm)
- Turn stabilizer (smaller) muscles on and allow the prime movers (the large ones) to do what they were originally designed to do.
- Mobilize, re-center, and stabilize all joints systemically.
- Strengthen communication between both halves of the brain.
- Restore old and create new neural pathways, while making existing ones more efficient.
What does that do for the bowhunter?
- Relieves pain associated with the draw.
- Restores lost movement and joint mobility.
- Allows the individual to maintain or exceed current draw weight.
- Creates stability and strength in the shoulder girdle.
- Restores the body’s ability to move like it was designed. (Bowhunting is not only about the draw. Being in the field requires the ability to safely get in and out of a tree stand, stalk quietly, climb over blow-down and other obstacles, drag deer and travel long distances without having a heart-attack! The more physical it becomes, the more fun it is.)
This can be done WITHOUT TOUCHING A WEIGHT OR STRETCHING!
If you absolutely despise going to the gym or participating in any other associated condition programming (running, weight training, etc..) a movement program like OS is the “Cat’s Pajamas.”
The fact is you can integrate OS resets before, during, and after training. It requires no equipment. You may even use your bow to train with as a baseline to provide feedback on the effectiveness of each reset. It only requires a roughly 8×8’ space and your body. Nothing else.
How to get started?
There are several different ways to approach this (some options are more efficient than others). I will give you a few options to choose from. Here are your options.
This is the youtube.com option. Tim Anderson creates hundreds of Original Strength movement videos lasting from 2-5 minutes long. It is an incredible tool. The only thing I would add is to stick with the 5 basic movements at first to get a real feel for it. Tim has created a human movement university online. But, keep it basic at first, then explore when you’re ready!
Option #2-The Book
The book. There are several books on Original Strength available. All are good, but start with Original Strength Reloaded. It’s as easy as going to Amazon.com and pressing the click button. It will set you back (or forward) 15 dollars. This in conjunction with the You Tube.com option is great if you do not have local instructors.
Option #3-Personal or Class Instruction.
This is obviously the best, but not always an available option. I am one of only two instructors in Upstate N.Y. Unfortunately, being outside a metropolitan area may be challenging to find one, no matter what your location (this is common for most quality certifications).
The easiest way is to go to https://originalstrength.net and do a search for Instructors close to you. Although it costs more than a book or searching on the internet, the benefits far out way the cost. It will increase your learning curve exponentially and save you a lot of time that could be spent on actual archery. Plus, a good instructor will be able to tailor a program specific to archery without requiring a gym or equipment. In my experience, spending a few hours with an instructor is a ‘game changer” and the result of regaining lost movement and strength is well worth it.
Personal Observations of the Effectiveness of OS.
If you feel that your getting to weak or you just don’t move like you use to, there is a reason. To keep it simple, it’s your environment around you and not your body. The body is meant to move with strength even as we age. Something we have forgotten. You still have the strength to do the things you enjoy, but you are going to have to come to the realization that these problems have to be addressed.
Save Your Cash.
I know that if I was to purchase another traditional bow because I was no longer able to comfortably shoot it would set me back at least 500 dollars (without proper arrow shafts)! Plus, I would have to forfeit my favorite bow for a new one.
Instead, fix the most important puzzle piece of an aging bowhunter. Your body! For a fraction of creating a new rig, you can deal with the real problem.
The question is: Are you good with getting weaker and do you really want to give up what gives you joy?
You have what you need, you just have to do the work.
I have seen the OS program work on countless people just by doing certain neurological resets like nodding, turning, rolling, etc..
Movements so simple it still surprises me. But Hey, if works and doesn’t take a gym membership, waste my time, and requires minimal effort. I’m in.
Do not believe me. Try it yourself.
Like I often tell students, “give it two solid weeks”.
If it doesn’t work, stop doing it.
Get after it! Spring is around the corner!