High-Per­for­mance Hunt­ing

Recoil - - Contents - BY RYNE GIOVIANO, M.S.ED., NSCA-CPT

Let’s face it — your last hunt prob­a­bly wasn’t as good as it could have been.

Few hunt­ing ath­letes re­ally think of them­selves as that, ath­letes. The fact of the mat­ter is that hunt­ing, just like any sport, can and should be im­proved through train­ing. You may not look at it as a sport you can train for, but you ab­so­lutely should if you’re go­ing to max­i­mize your en­durance on your next hunt. In this is­sue, we’re go­ing to dis­cuss ways you can im­prove at shoot­ing by spend­ing some time in the gym wisely. In­ter­ested? Keep read­ing.


Hav­ing a strong and stable shoot­ing plat­form is an ob­vi­ous re­quire­ment for great shoot­ing per­for­mance on a hunt. You’d be sur­prised, how­ever, how much of that can be im­proved with a well-de­signed strength pro­gram. Many of the com­mon is­sues with ac­cu­racy in pis­tol and ri­fle shoot­ing can be traced back to sta­bil­ity of the shoul­der and/ or wrist. For in­stance, re­search shows the stronger your grip, the bet­ter your pis­tol shoot­ing per­for­mance. The

fur ther you go down to­ward the wrist, these move­ments can wreak havoc on your ac­cu­racy and group­ings.

If we’re look­ing at the shooter’s arm, the main joints are the shoul­der, el­bow, and wrist. From a train­ing stand­point, we’re look­ing to create sta­bil­ity and strength in all of these joints by train­ing the mus­cles that im­pact them, such as the ro­ta­tor cuff, bi­ceps, tri­ceps, del­toids, and the many fore­arm mus­cles. It’s com­mon for peo­ple to ad­dress the shoul­ders in a shoot­ing per­for­mance pro­gram, but also in­clud­ing the el­bow and wrist is crit­i­cal if you’re go­ing to make sub­stan­tial progress on your hunt.

One key con­sid­er­a­tion in train­ing for ri­fle shoot­ing ver­sus pis­tol shoot­ing is work­ing on keep­ing the ri­fle close and tight to the body. Keep­ing a pis­tol at arm’s length re­quires more sta­bil­ity be­cause there are less points of con­tact between your body and the gun. We’re go­ing to in­clude some shoul­der work both with a spe­cific ex­er­cise as well as a squat vari­a­tion that’ll also in­clude a sim­i­lar arm po­si­tion as a shoot­ing stance.

Sure, the shoul­ders are still im­por­tant when shoot­ing a ri­fle, but the ri­fle is go­ing to be snug against your body adding both sta­bil­ity and con­trol.

So, if we fac­tor that into a shoot­ing pro­gram to im­prove hunt­ing we also need to work on the bi­ceps and key fore­arm mus­cles. These are what are go­ing to as­sist in sta­bi­liz­ing the ri­fle and keep­ing it tight to your shoul­der. For this, we’ll have an in­ter­est­ing spin on a tra­di­tional bi­ceps curl.

Lastly, you need some gen­eral up­per body strength and core train­ing to tie every­thing to­gether. With­out a strong core, we’re not able to truly ex­press our strength and mo­bil­ity. That’s the area that ties every­thing to­gether. We’ll have two ex­er­cises that dou­ble as both core and up­per body strength move­ments. Af­ter all, we don’t want to just train mus­cles in iso­la­tion. The body func­tions as whole, and we should train it that way.

The end re­sult is you be­com­ing a more phys­i­cally pre­pared hunter.


Hunt­ing can be un­pre­dictable, with hours of sta­tion­ary move­ment, fol­lowed by hours on the move in var­i­ous types of ter­rain. Con­di­tion­ing is crit­i­cal if you want to get the most out of your hunt and not suc­cumb to ex­haus­tion.

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