You may wonder how often you need to shoot your bow to improve. What skill level you strive for determines how much you should shoot. Someone who wants to become the best archer will need to practice more than a casual shooter. Technically, you could practice as little or as much as you’d like, but how much practice do you need to see real progress in archery?
If you want to become one of the best, you must practice six days a week with 100 to 120 arrows for each session. Those with less serious ambition who still want to become good might shoot between 80 to 100 arrows five days a week. Casual archers can practice as much or as little as they’d like.
For those who would like to learn more about how often to shoot and how to improve with the bow, keep reading because we will take an in depth dive on this topic.
Frequency and Correct Practice
I would emphasize that correct practice matters as much as how often. Putting daily practice in with bad habits can hinder your progress as new obstacles spring forth to becoming a better archer. Going to an archery class with a teacher can weed out poor habits like letting the string go as quickly as possible, holding the bow wrong or slamming the release trigger.
Daily practice makes a difference, but you want to shoot with good habits. Many people fall under the mistaken assumption that they can sling some arrows and call it practice. You might call it the lowest form of practice, but you need to take daily measures to improve in the art. Pay special attention to each detail and look at how to improve.
Don’t fall into the trap of volume shooting. Volume shooting involves shooting as many arrows as possible under the misconception that the more arrows you shoot, the better you become. How much you shoot plays a role, but you must build your form and focus on weeding out flaws in technique.
Unlearning bad habits can take months once ingrained. I would recommend an archery club because of how a good class will teach proper stance and technique. Somebody could do this on their own, but they may learn bad habits that impede progress along the way.
If you’d like a great book on archery drills, check out The Archery Drill Book. The thoughts and practices within will help you to become a more consistent and accurate archer.
What Happens When You Shoot More Often?
Archers who shoot six days a week will strengthen their major upper body muscles like the rhomboids, trapezius and latissimus dorsi muscles. The sport of archery develops your shoulder muscles as well. As a consequence, you will find your shots more consistent on accuracy with time. Building muscle memory takes many shots before becoming secondhand nature.
Learn more about muscle memory here to see how more frequent bow practice will improve your shots:
Practicing more often will make the sport seem easier with time because of muscle memory. Muscle memory can work against you if you learn bad habits.
Some of the most important aspects that muscle memory can improve include:
- Load position
Going through each element with slow and deliberate practice can improve your skill as an archer. Practicing more often will also improve each of the elements.
Assess Your Progress
As you go along, look at your progress to see how far you have come. How much progress have you made with your current practice sessions? Do you feel happy with the growth? If not, you may need to increase how much you practice. However, you need to assess how you learn it as well to do it better.
You may need to change things if you feel that you have made too slow of progress. In particular, this happens when you practice often and your skill seems to lag behind.
Training every day isn’t always the mark of an excellent archer. How you practice matters as much as how often.
Everyone differs in how much they need to practice to grow or maintain their skillset.
Discipline Matters but Love the Art
Practicing every day when it feels like a chore will hurt your advancement when you shoot arrows without mindfulness. You must stay alert to how you practice every day that you show up. In fact, I would even recommend doing archery for the simple love of it.
Many times, people who love what they do will practice more without effort. At the same time, their eye for detail will prove better than someone who practices a lot without alertness. To sling arrows by simple rote can do more harm than good.
I liked shooting at home over the archery range because I found that I enjoyed it more, and I took more short practice sessions throughout the day for a stress reliever.
When starting out in archery, I would recommend taking on shorter sessions that build your enjoyment of the sport. Going straight into it with too much focus on winning every archery tournament can do more harm than good. Not only will you not win tournaments, but you will feel forced into doing something that you don’t enjoy.
Expert Tip: To enjoy archery more, keep from overdoing it past the point where you no longer enjoy the practice sessions. You want to learn it in a way that encourages you to keep learning. I call this the heart-centered approach, and I find that many of the top performers in their field love what they do even above material gains.
Start Small As a Beginner
Beginners may want to shoot less frequently because of how your shoulder, back and arm muscles will require time before they can handle the longer sessions. You can tell when you shoot for too long because of how your entire body will feel like it was hit by a train. You may even find that your performance plateaus or declines due to overtraining.
Other signs of overtraining include:
- Delays in recovery from training
- Inability to train or compete at previous levels
- Unusually sore muscles
- Irritability or agitation
If you display multiple signs and think you might be over practicing, you may want to try lowering the duration of your sessions.
Many archers have reported progress with practice three days per week, so a tough practice regimen doesn’t always mean better. Someone who wants to reach the professional level will obviously need to practice more often, but you also need to let your shoulders rest.
I wouldn’t recommend that anyone practices seven days a week. The reason behind this being the same reason that you wouldn’t do this with other strenuous activity. It will do more harm to your muscles than good. Someone who shoots too often may want to lower how many arrows they shoot to let their muscles relax. Overshooting could also lead to an injury and hurt your progress, doing the opposite of what you hoped for.
Signs That You May Be Practicing Too Much
I find that as soon as I start slinging arrows all over the place, I need to take a break. It becomes counterproductive to overdo it. Your shooting suffers. Archery is largely a game of repetition, but you also need to focus as much on how to improve your shots.
Signs that you may need to shorten your practice sessions include:
- No enjoyment
- Accuracy suffers
- Body feels fatigued
- You feel like you’re overdoing it
Especially if you enjoy practicing with the bow, one of the biggest problems can come from how you can overdo it too easily. You have to learn when to stop. I’d advise ending on a high note whenever possible because of how this will carry through with you into the next session, and you will enjoy it more.
When you see your shooting getting worse rather than better with each session, you may want to take a step back from practice and re-evaluate it.
If you like to hunt, you usually only get one shot that counts, so the accuracy of that shot will matter the most.
Consistency Matters as Much as How Often
How often you pick up the bow does make a difference, but you shouldn’t underestimate the power of consistency. Many archers report how they took a week or two weeks off, and they found how they undid much of their progress. Luckily, it often comes back sooner than the first time thanks to muscle memory.
Instead of an overfocus on how often, pay as much attention to how consistent you remain. If you take shots every other day, try not to miss a day. Create a schedule for practice and stick to it as much as possible. Like with running or other activities, going a long time between sessions and not having a consistent schedule can negatively impact how well you practice more than how often.
Now, for those interested in learning why their arrows may be hitting the target at an angle during practice sessions, I wrote about that here.
Learn What Works for You
I have several archery friends, and I’ve noticed how each one of us practices differently from the other. That doesn’t make any one of our practice sessions superior to the next. Do what you love and practice archery however you enjoy it the most. If you have lofty goals, you may need to practice more often than others—that’s the reality—but that doesn’t necessarily mean that you will want to practice seven days a week or even six days a week.