Skill Drills and SPTs

Last night in our Adult Archery Achievement Program we taught our archers about drills for skill and SPTs. SPTs are Specific Physical Training exercises. We're posting these drills and SPTs here for our archers to have a reference when they practice at home. Let's start with a recap of our drills.

These skill drills that can be used to improve technique and form. Archers should use these drills to help improve muscle memory when they are shooting. These skills can be used for practice at home or for a skills refresher behind the waiting line.


The first drill we are going to highlight is one for stance.

STANCE: Address the target drill

The point of this drill is for students to learn that obtaining an open stance and looking directly at the target is more stable than using their peripheral vision or standing with their feet together.

How to do this drill properly:

1. Divide students into pairs, or if practicing at home have a family member or friend partner with you.

2. Have the partners face each other, eyes forward with their feet straddling the shooting line and arms held out at shoulder height forming a "T".

3. It should be hard to push the archer's arms down.

4. Next, have the archer look at the target by shifter their eyes (head remains facing their partner.) This time is should be easy to push the arms down.

5. Repeat.

Next, let's look at a drill for bow grip.

GRIP: Grip tape drill

The point of this drill is for students to learn how to obtain a consistent grip.

How to do this drill properly:

1. Place a small piece of tape on the bow hand between the thumb and index finger (where the hand would be centered on the bow grip).

2. Place the bow hand on the stretch band.

3. Go through the shot process up to Step 4: Set.

4. Check the ensure the tape on the bow hand and stretch band align.

Our next two drills will focus on helping an archer to achieve the "Transfer to Hold" step in their shooting process.

The first "Transfer to Hold" drill -

TRANSFER TO HOLD: Scapula wall drill

The point of this drill is for students to identify the muscles that are used to transfer the weight of holding the bow from the arm muscles into the back muscles.

How to do this drill properly:

1. Stand up straight with the back against a flat surface, like a wall.

2. The archer pushes the scapula below the draw arm shoulder into the flat surface until they feel it against the wall.

3. Repeat.

TRANSFER TO HOLD: Thumb to scapula drill

The point of this drill is for students to identify the muscles used and the motion needed to accomplish Transfer to Hold.

How to do this drill properly:

1. Stand up straight.

2. Give a "thumbs-up" with the bow hand. Bend the bow arm at the elbow to place the thumb behind your back, just below the scapula of the draw arm shoulder.

3. Simulate drawing the bow with the draw arm. Bring the draw hand to the anchor position.

4. Move from anchor into the hold position by transferring the weight of the bow from the arm muscles to the back muscles.

5. Concentrate on feeling the motion in the muscle below the scapula where the bow hand thumb is placed.

6. Repeat.

The next drill focuses on release with the archer's draw hand. This drill is great for anyone who is struggling with plucking the string as they release.

RELEASE: Slip release with the bow hand drill

The point of this drill is for students to learn to relax the fingers, allowing the bowstring to push the fingers out of the way.

How to do this drill properly:

1. The archer places the bow on his or her toe.

2. The bow hand holds the upper limb while the draw hand "hooks" the bowstring near the top limb.

3. Pull the bowstring back and relax the fingers to allow the draw hand to release the bowstring.

4. Repeat.

** Hooking the bowstring near the top of the bow will not put enough pressure on the bow to cause damage or injury.

The final drill is one that will help archers with their shot process.

SHOT PROCESS: Cup on the head drill

Mastery of this drill with train students to maintain posture, core engagement, and alignment throughout the entire shot process.

How to do this drill properly:

1. Fill the cup half full with water.

2. Place the cup with the water on top of the archer's head after the archer has reached Set-up.

3. The cup needs to remain on the archer's head through the rest of the Steps of Shooting without falling off.

4. Repeat.


Next we are going to cover the SPTs or Specific Physical Training drills. SPTs can be used to improve technique and form, increase strength, and develop muscle memory. Archers can practice these drills at home or behind the waiting line.

SET-UP: Arm raise drill

The point of this SPT is to build strength in the muscles of the bow arm.

How to do this SPT properly:

1. Complete the Steps of Shooting up to Step 5: Set-up.

2. Engage the lats and triceps in the bow arm, and keep them tight as you raise the bow.

3. Keep the shoulders down and hold.

4. Repeat.

DRAW: Static strap training drill at set-up position

This exercise is used to develop and increase strength in the muscles needed to draw the bow and develop muscle memory.

How to do this SPT properly:

1. Tie the string loop to 80% of the archer's draw length. If using a luggage strap, adjust to the above length. The archer should be able to draw until the draw hand reaches just behind the bow arm shoulder.

2. Complet the Steps of Shooting until the maximum draw length of the strap or string loop is reached. This will be somewhere between the steps for Set-up and Draw to Load.

3. Hold this position for 10 seconds.

4. Repeat 3 times.

HOLD: Structure SPT drill

This drill will allow t he archer to simulate the feeling of "holding" the weight of the bow the back muscles.

How to do this drill properly:

1. Complete the Steps of Shooting with a stretch band or lightweight bow (a Bow Trainer also works well here) up to Step 3: Hook and Grip.

2. Raise the bow/band above your head.

3. Draw the bowstring/band behind your head until the bowstring or band is touching the shoulder and the little finger of the draw hand is touching the neck.

4. Hold in this position. Let down slowly when ready.

RELEASE: Grip release drill

The point of this SPT is for students to learn how to maintain a strong bow arm while executing the shot (and a released bow hand.)

How to do this SPT properly:

1. Go through the entire shooting process using a stretch band.

2. Upon release, the archer must release the bow grip so that the bow hand index finger points directly down.

3. the bow grip should be synchronized with the draw hand release.

4. Once the archer had mastered the synchronization with a stretch band, then he or she can try using the bow.

5. The instructor or coach can "catch" the bow until the student feels comfortable with the whole process.

**Once completed, the archer should apply a finger or wrist sling when shooting their bow to prevent damaging or dropping the bow.

The final SPT we'll be explaining is one for shot process.

SHOT PROCESS: Scapular retraction drill

Students performing this SPT use a stretch band to strengthen the scapular muscles.

How to do this SPT properly:

1. Tie the stretch band to a target, door, or pole at the shoulder height.

2. Stand with one arm holding the stretch band.

3. Raise the arm to shoulder height.

4. Keep the arm straight and squeeze the scapulae together.

5. Relax and repeat.

We hope that this blog post will serve as a great reference for any archers looking to improve their form and strength using these drills and SPTs! Have questions on anything you read? Stop in and see one of our 10 Ring coaches and they'll help walk you through the steps to ensure you're doing them properly!

*10 Ring Archery Club, LLC does not own this material or any of the photos used in the reference guide. All photos and materials came from USA Archery and are used solely as a reference guide.

#TeamUSA #Archery #USAArchery #SPTs #Drills #Skills #exercises #strength #scapula

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