Whether you use a treestand or prefer to stay low to the ground, bowhunting can be a demanding physical activity. Not all bowhunters will carry elk meat through miles of backcountry, just as not every bowhunter will brave cold and frigid conditions to bag a late-season deer. Yet all that sweat and hard work often means more than just meat in your freezer, it also means positive benefits that make you healthier and stronger. Feeling a little flabby? Why not pick up your bow in addition to your workout regime? You might find that shooting a few arrows will not only help to keep you healthy, but also offers some therapeutic benefits as well.

1. Increased strength

Train long enough with a bow, and it won’t be long until you notice a certain soreness spreading throughout your arms and body. That’s because using a bow works out a multitude of muscles, including those in your arms, hands, shoulders, and chest. In fact, drawing and releasing can lead to muscle development across your upper body and core. You may find yourself training at the gym to help with training for archery, especially if you’re working with a new bow or different draw weight.

2. Improved hand-eye coordination

Do you consider yourself a clumsy person? You won’t be for long if you take up archery. Shooting a bow involves much more than just raw strength, it also requires balance and coordination. When you teach yourself archery, you also teach your eyes and hands to work together naturally, improving your responsiveness and increasing hand-eye coordination.

3. It’s exercise

Many people like bowhunting because it allows them a chance to become immersed in the outdoors. While simply being outside does not necessarily mean healthy habits, bowhunting also means you’re going to be active, whether you like it or not. According to some experts, drawing an average bow burns about roughly 140 calories for every half hour of use, which is equivalent to walking about four miles an hour for the same duration. While that may not seem like a lot of exercise, also consider all the other physical activity that goes into bowhunting. Many competition archers train by running and walking, which helps with their aerobic endurance. The same is true for bowhunters, except instead of training, it’s all part of the hunt.

4. You get lean meat

Needless to say, this is only true if your hunt is successful—or if you can coax a buddy into sharing their harvest. Lean meat offers a host of benefits over store-bought beef, and can be an important supplement to your diet. Whether it’s deer, turkey, or something else, there’s nothing quite like the satisfaction of cooking meat that came straight from the field to your table.

5. Improved focus and eyesight

One of the most important parts of archery is precision. After all, you can have great poise and draw that 120-pound recurve like it’s nothing—in which case the 15th-century English army may want to recruit you—but none of that matters if you can’t hit the target. Learning how to use a bow won’t mean you’ll no longer have to wear glasses, but it will train you to focus on targets, ignore outside distractions, and judge your distances correctly.

6. Greater flexibility

Like the bow itself, archery is all about stretching. For your fingers, hands, arms, and everything else, learning to use a bow means you’ll find yourself more flexible than before.

7. It’ll help you relaxation

Finally, bowhunting can be very therapeutic. Whether you’re in the stand or shooting away at targets in your backyard, archery can relieve stress and act as an outlet for internal pressure. Bowhunting can act sort of like a stress ball, except instead of having that odd rubbery smell on your hands afterwards, you get some venison instead.

Image from James Brooks on the flickr Creative Commons

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