Archery Workouts: The Calorie-Burning Benefits of Shooting a Bow and Arrow

By outdoorpro •  Updated: 01/13/23 •  7 min read

Not only is archery a sport that improves your mental game, depending on your intensity and form, it can also provide a decent calorie-burning workout.

How many calories does archery burn?

Archery isn’t the highest cardio activity out there, but it is a better calorie-burning activity than doing nothing! Plus it tones your arms and core. Of course, just how many calories you burn while shooting arrows will depend on a few factors, including your weight, intensity level, and the duration of your archery session, but archery is considered low-impact compared to running or swimming.

Comparison of the number of calories burned during 30 minutes of archery versus 30 minutes of running, swimming, and cycling

Activity (30 Minutes)Calories burned (150 lb person)
Running (6 mph)240
Swimming (laps)255
Biking (moderate)240

It is clear that engaging in an afternoon of archery is not going to be a high-intensity, calorie-burning activity like running or cycling. However, it can still be a useful way to incorporate some physical activity into your routine, improved your skill, and contribute to your overall fitness plan.

Increase intensity to increase calorie-burning potential

To get as much out of your archery shooting practice as you can, try increasing the intensity by shooting at longer distances, holding your position for a while longer before releasing the arrow, or shooting more arrows in a shorter amount of time.

Strength-train to build calorie-burning muscle

It’s also a good idea to incorporate other exercises into your routine, such as strength training or interval running, to further boost your calorie-burning potential and tone that bod.

Which muscles does shooting an arrow strengthen?

upper body muscle groups

The act of preparing and shooting an arrow activates the whole core and upper body, and gives the heart and lungs a stretch of cardio.

To generate the force needed to pull the string back and launch the arrow, you need strength in your arms, shoulders, back, and core muscle groups:

Biceps and triceps:

The muscles in the upper arms are responsible for pulling back the string of the bow. The biceps (on the front of the upper arm), and the triceps (on the back of the upper arm), work together to draw the string back against resistance.

Shoulder muscles:

rotator cuff muscles
rotator cuff muscles

The shoulders are also heavily involved in the archery shot process. The rotator cuff muscles, which are responsible for rotating and stabilizing the shoulder joint, are particularly important for maintaining proper form while shooting.

Back muscles:

back muscles

The muscles in the back, including the lats, rhomboids, and lower back muscles, are responsible for maintaining proper posture and alignment while shooting.

Core muscles:

The core muscles, including the abs and obliques, help to stabilize the body and maintain proper form while shooting.

Hand and forearm muscles:

The muscles in the hands and forearms are responsible for gripping the bow and maintaining control over the bow and arrow.

Workouts that can help to strengthen the muscles used when drawing a bow

If your upper body strength could use some work, begin with these exercises before picking up a bow:

Resistance band rows

This exercise works the muscles in the upper back, arms, and shoulders, and is done using a resistance band or a cable machine.

To perform the exercise, stand facing the anchor point of the resistance band (or the cable machine) with your feet shoulder-width apart. Grip the band (or handle) with an overhand grip and keep your elbows close to your sides as you pull the band (or cable) towards your chest.

Push ups

Everybody should be doing push ups. Push ups are a classic exercise that can help to strengthen the muscles in the arms, shoulders, and upper back.

To perform a push up, start in a plank position with your hands shoulder-width apart and your body in a straight line. Lower your body down towards the ground by bending your elbows, then push back up to the starting position. Now keep doing that.


Planks are a great exercise for strengthening the core muscles, which are important for maintaining proper form while drawing a bow.

To perform a plank, start in a push up position with your arms straight and your body in a straight line. Hold this position for 30 seconds to 1 minute, keeping your core muscles engaged the entire time. Feel the burn. Hooooooold it.

Bicep curls

Bicep curls are a classic exercise for strengthening the biceps, which are important for pulling back the string of the bow, and telling people ‘which way to the beach.’

To perform a bicep curl, stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and hold a dumbbell or weighted item in each hand. Keep your elbows close to your sides as you curl the dumbbells towards your shoulders, then lower them back down to the starting position.

Incorporate several exercises or sports into your routine to ensure that you are working all of the muscle groups used when drawing a bow. The stronger your core and upper body, the better you’ll shoot and the better you’ll feel.

Reminder to balance out your arm workouts with leg day. Never skip leg day.

Build shooting into your routine

You don’t need a lot of space to incorporate archery into your workout routine. Consider setting up a small home range in your backyard if that’s something you’re into, or hit the shooting range outside of the house a few times a week.

Reminder to vary the intensity

You can increase the intensity by shooting at longer distances, shooting more arrows per session, or adding shooting drills into your routine.

For example, some simple drills are shooting multiple arrows in a row while maintaining proper form and a high degree of accuracy, or try shooting from different body positions (standing, kneeling, standing on your head, etc.).

Social strategy

Another way to build archery into your workout routine, even if only monthly, is to make it a fun competition: nothing raises the stakes like a friendly competition with friends who don’t know how to lose graciously.

Consider setting up a friendly competition or joining a local archery league to mix up your workouts and make them more social. Social activities are more fun, and you’re more likely to stick with what’s fun. You won’t burn any calories at all if you don’t get out there and do something.