– Brennan Stephens – Breathing is very important. Without breathing, you can not shoot archery. Breathing has a much more significant effect on archery, other than my previous obvious statement. Everyone from snipers to weightlifters use breathing to their advantage. Recently, I was at my local Regional Championship and there were a couple of times where my heart-rate went up and I had to execute the shot. At the end of the tournament, I shot my year high of 295. Many people do not understand the influence of how you breathe.
Many people think that “Breath Control” is holding their breath. This is a misconception that can greatly disrupt your shooting. The first negative effect is your stability. Your muscles require oxygen to perform correctly. Holding your breath can cause you to shake, and even jerk, which obviously affects your shot. You do not even have to do this for more than one arrow to see this.
Another effect is the effect of breathing on your nerves. Holding your breath causes you to react with anxiety. Like holding your breath in a pool for an extended amount of time, you can develop even more anxiety from holding your breath. This is devastating when combined with any anxiety you already have.
After clearing up misconceptions it is important to know how to properly breathe during your shot execution. Here is how I use breathing to my advantage: I take deep breaths the whole time in between shooting. Even when I am pulling arrows, I am taking deep breaths. When I nock my arrow, I simultaneously take a deep breath and draw. I then exhale slowly. At about halfway through my exhale I release. There is a natural pause in your exhale, and this is where you are your steadiest. I would say that everyone’s breathing has the potential to be different, but that does not make this method wrong. The most important thing is that your technique is effective and repeatable. Breathing properly will give you an edge against shaking and it will reduce your nerves. Breath control is most important when your heart-rate is already up, like I commonly experience on my last shot.
If applied correctly, breathing will improve any shooter. Word of warning, breath control will not simply solve you issues with your form. I like to think of it as the final piece to the puzzle. If you flinch, have bad form, bad release, or bad follow through then breath control will not help. The key to make it work is practice. You must practice until you can not make a mistake. Like anything, it takes extreme dedication to make yourself a good archer.
-Brennan Stephens is a 2022 student contributor. Watch for his future submissions.-