February 23rd, 2021

Fitness and Cardio Training for Marksmen — It Makes a Difference

In the archives of The First Shot (the CMP’s Online Magazine), SGT Walter E. Craig of the USAMU discusses physical conditioning for competitive shooters, particularly High Power competitors. Fitness training is an important subject that, curiously, is rarely featured in the shooting sports media. We seem to focus on hardware, or esoteric details of cartridge reloading. Yet physical fitness also matters, particularly for High Power shooters. In his article, Craig advocates: 1) weight training to strengthen the Skeletal Muscle System; 2) exercises to build endurance and stamina; and 3) cardiovascular conditioning programs to allow the shooter to remain relaxed with a controlled heart beat.

SGT Craig explains: “An individual would not enter a long distance race without first spending many hours conditioning his/her body. One should apply the same conditioning philosophy to [shooting]. Physical conditioning to improve shooting skills will result in better shooting performance[.] The objective of an individual physical training program is to condition the muscles, heart, and lungs thereby increasing the shooter’s capability of controlling the body and rifle for sustained periods.”


In addition to weight training and cardio workouts (which can be done in a gym), SGT Craig advocates “some kind of holding drill… to develop the muscles necessary for holding a rifle for extended periods.”

For those with range access, Craig recommends a blind standing exercise: “This exercise consists of dry-firing one round, then live-firing one round, at a 200-yard standard SR target. For those who have access only to a 100-yard range, reduced targets will work as well. Begin the exercise with a timer set for 50 minutes. Dry-fire one round, then fire one live round and without looking at the actual impact, plot a call in a data book. Continue the dry fire/live fire sequence for 20 rounds, plotting after each round. After firing is complete, compare the data book to the target. If your zero and position are solid, the plots should resemble the target. As the training days add up and your zero is refined, the groups will shrink and move to the center.”

Brandon Green
Fitness training and holding drills help position shooters reach their full potential.

Training for Older Shooters
Tom Alves has written an excellent article A Suggested Training Approach for Older Shooters. This article discusses appropriate low-impact training methods for older shooters. Tom explains: “Many of the articles you will read in books about position shooting and the one mentioned above are directed more toward the younger generation of shooters in their 20s. If you look down the line at a typical high power match these days you are likely to see quite a few folks who are in their middle 30s and up. Many people in that age range have had broken bones and wear and tear on their joints so a training program needs to take that into account. For instance, while jogging for an extended period for heart and lung conditioning may be the recommended approach for younger folks, it may be totally inappropriate for older people.”


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June 9th, 2008

Fitness Training for Shooters

Successful marksmanship is the product of a complex system, part biological (the shooter), and part mechanical (the rifle). Too often, in our fascination with things mechanical, we forget the human, physical side of the sport. The March edition of the CMP’s “The Mark” newsletter features an excellent article by Amber Darland on physical training for shooters. Darland, a certified Personal Trainer, is also a top-level competitive shooter. A U.S. Olympic Team alternate, she was on the American World Championship Team in 2002, and was a member of the Univ. of Alaska NCAA Rifle Team, which won four National Championships while she was there.

Garland says shooters should be involved in three kinds of exercise to improve their physical conditioning: 1) Aerobic Exercise to strengthen the cardiovascular system; 2) Anaerobic Exercise (such as weight lifting) to build muscle strength and stamina; and 3) Flexibility exercises.

Strength Training
Garland notes that strength training helps in many ways: “Weight training also increases your kinesthetic connections and awareness (your ability to notice internal changes in muscle position and
tension). The more you utilize your brain-to-muscle connections, the more you will be able to tap into them to correct positional errors and normal, day-to-day changes in muscle tension.”

Improving Flexibility is Key
Garland stresses that flexibility training can be very helpful, even for older, F-Class or Benchrest shooters: “Of all aspects of fitness, [flexibility] is probably the most utilized by shooting athletes, though not consistently in most cases. Flexibility is important for several reasons including injury prevention and positional consistency. The more pliable and flexible your joint capsules, the more readily they will handle unanticipated stress. An athlete who performs flexibility work on a regular basis will have pliable, supple, relaxed muscles that are not bound by constant tensions and immobility.”

CLICK HERE to Read Full Article (.pdf Download, p. 17)

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