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Physical fitness and competitive shooting

Discussion in 'Competition Shooting' started by Trent, Feb 22, 2013.

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  1. Trent

    Trent Resident Wiseguy

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    So the opening local USPSA round is in 16 days. I'm kind of taking inventory of what I need to be prepared; got my ammo supply sorted out, been practicing handgun as often as possible, etc.

    But at the range last weekend I noticed my arms were getting fatigued holding the gun up for extended durations, made me a little shaky (to the point my last group size I shot was over 2.5x larger than my first group size; was practicing 20 shot groups at 15 yards so I could cover the NRA prequal shoot).

    After 20 shots in a row, my arms get pretty fatigued. Given the round count of USPSA shoots, I figure I need to get my upper body toned up a little more! (been lazy this winter).

    So what exercises (if any) do you competitive shooters do, and do you do any specifically for handgun training? The only thing I thought of that'd train the specific muscles is lengthy dry fire exercises, but is there anything else I can do?

    Just wanting to be "the best I can be"... I'm highly competitive by nature. :)
     
  2. JShirley

    JShirley Administrator Staff Member

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    I would think some of the exercises you could do would be similar to some of the exercises for developing more power in punching: take a low weight dumb-bell and slowly extend out to where you hold your firearm. Hold it out there briefly, and then slowly bring it back in. Gradually build up the weight you're using- I wouldn't think you'd ever need to go over 5 lbs- and the number of reps you're doing. As with other muscle-building exercises, always be certain to stretch afterwards, so you don't lose flexibility as you gain muscle.

    John
     
  3. Trent

    Trent Resident Wiseguy

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    Thanks JShirley.

    I just finished a half hour of dry fire exercises (draw / safety off / fire) with a PT92. Good grief, I could hardly lift my arms when I was done.

    Practicing for the NRA instructor pre-qual shoot really opened my eyes to it. Doing 20 rounds slow fire is quite a long time to hold a gun out. I've got my 15 yard groups consistently down to 2.5" (when I'm fresh, just under 6" fatigued), so I should be good to go on that.

    Now I'm looking for a couple of weeks of practice before the opening USPSA round here. Still working on breaking some bad habits, hope to get it ironed out before then. I tend to shoot like crap under stress, and a lot of that is caused by bad habits I've picked up over a decade in a half that seem to creep back in once my attention is focused on something else.

    Target shooting is no problem - but my mind is focused on the gun, not "that's 9 rounds fired do a hot pipe reload while running 10 feet to my right to shoot through that window"....
     
  4. BADUNAME2

    BADUNAME2 Member

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    My routine's not geared directly toward shooting, more like general quality of life, but it seems to help with shooting.

    I jog, sometimes with a few brief sprints (what runners call fartlek training) three days a week. Two days, I do a bodyweight routine, with pushups, planks, crunches, lunges, squats, pullups, and some stretching.

    Dryfire helps too.
     
  5. tuj

    tuj Member

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    Get a 5lb dumb bell and tape a laser pointer to the top of it. Grip it with only your bottom 3 fingers on your strong hand and surround that grip with your support hand. Then see how long you can hold the weight out and keep the laser pointed at a spot on the wall before it starts shaking.

    Repeat until fatigued.
     
  6. beatledog7

    beatledog7 Member

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    Anything you do that enhances your general level of physical fitness will make you a better competitive shooter while it also enhances just about every other aspect of your life.
     
  7. cavman

    cavman Member

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    In Bullseye and Service Rifle, dry firing is very very beneficial. A 45 is only about 4 pounds and holding out a 5 lb dumb bell is all you really need. General fitness of course is good to have as most matches last the day and occur in all weather conditions.

    I would imagine USPSA would be similar
     
  8. Japle

    Japle Member

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    Very true. You don’t have to spend hours in the gym, either. Do three sets of pushups , three sets of pullups and some core work three times a week and that’ll be a good start. Do the big, compound exercises. Overall fitness is better than trying to do isolation exercises for specific muscles.

    Personally, I’m in the best shape of my life at age 67 and can go through a long practice session or match and not notice any fatigue other than being on my feet for 4-6 hours in the hot sun.
     
  9. bogon48

    bogon48 Member

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    I'm don't shoot competitively. When I did Bullseye and IHMSA shooting in decades past, building upper body strength really helped. I used to get pretty whipped firing large calibers in my TC contender from a standing position. But overall conditioning also helped with rifle shooting, especially in the more taxing positions. While I recall trying to get positional support mostly from bone groups, rather than muscles, fatigue crept in. So the fitter I was, the better I did.
     
  10. TonyDedo

    TonyDedo Member

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    Can't speak more highly of CrossFit. It helps build functional fitness that will improve your core strength, flexibility and stamina. Great for everything you'll need for action shooting.
     
  11. Trent

    Trent Resident Wiseguy

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    (OP here again)

    I have to be somewhat selective of what exercises I do. I was in a bad motorcycle crash in 2010.

    The superbike launched me so hard in Canada Corner at Road America, the arches in my feet were displaced and my feet are two sizes smaller than they were before the crash.

    Flying through the air didn't hurt.

    When I landed in the middle of the race track, the ulna was dislocated in my left arm, severing the deep branch of my palmar nerve (no feeling in the outer edge of my left hand). That's also when most of the knee damage happened. ACL/PCL (both) are shot in both knees, and I destroyed the antior talofibular ligament in my left ankle.

    Then the bike behind me hit me in the back of the head and upper neck, it was doing 60-70 mph. Hardest I've ever been hit by anything in my entire life. THAT hurt. I had good gear (alpinestars) so it didn't kill me, but rang my bell something fierce. I still have lingering upper back problems, lots of pain between the shoulder blades when I lift / carry heavy objects or stand too long. (I was also getting words mixed up for 6 months and had TBI amnesia, but that's another story altogether)

    Before the crash I was active in martial arts, and very fit, but my fitness has been declining steadily since 2010. I still have a fair amount of upper body strength, but no endurance (can't jog or run, walking more than a half mile without a break hurts).

    So.. yeah. Kind of messed up bad in the lower body.

    I can practice dry fire sitting or standing.

    I can also do pull-ups just fine (have a bar in the kitchen doorway), planks (a 3 minute hold is no problem), and anything else that doesn't involve compressing my spine or stressing my knees. (Stretching my spine is fine, actually relieves the pain, which is why I love doing pull ups!)
     
  12. BADUNAME2

    BADUNAME2 Member

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    Wow, that sucks. That's a heck of a list of limitations, but anything you can do is better than nothing.

    Would cycling work for you? With good bike fit, it's a hell of a lot easier on the knees than jogging, and would at least get you some aerobic/endurance work.
     
  13. Trent

    Trent Resident Wiseguy

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    Possibly, but to be honest, I don't know. I haven't rode a bicycle in probably two decades. We have a lot of hills near where I live. Illinois is mostly flat as far as the eye can see - but I chose to buy a house on an end moraine that the glaciers kindly left behind to break up the monotonous landscape, with a nearby river valley that was made when they retreated.. :)

    I've tried jogging, it don't work. I *can* jog, but only for about a quarter mile. Then my ankle or knees or both start screaming at me, I can't go up and down stairs the next day (which sucks as I live in a 5 level house), and I generally make everyone around me uncomfortable because I'm grouchy.

    Last summer I'd got to the point I could walk for a mile, take my doggies around the lake to the boat dock, but man, I was pushing myself hard to do that. I'm hoping to get myself up to two miles this summer.
     
  14. 9mmepiphany

    9mmepiphany Moderator

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    Try Kettlebells. It builds core and endurance
     
  15. Trent

    Trent Resident Wiseguy

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    I have teenagers and enjoy my drywall intact, might skip the kettlebells. :)
     
  16. BADUNAME2

    BADUNAME2 Member

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    Even with the hills, you still might want to give cycling a look. It's essentially a no impact sport. With modern gearing, guys with sound knees can and do ride up mountain grades fully loaded with touring gear. On a bare bike, with those sorts of gears, even suspect knees should be able to climb hills.

    It's a thought, anyhow. If you're interested, feel free to PM me, if you want any tech pointers, or the like, as I "speak bike."
     
  17. Tophernj

    Tophernj Member

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    If you start to consider cycling, look into a roadbike with a triple chainring. It essentially lowers your gearing to make getting up hills a bit easier. They are a boon to those that are challenged in ways similar to you. Best of luck.

    C
     
  18. chrome_austex

    chrome_austex Member

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    I find core strength (situps) is necessary for good shooting posture, arms extended etc.

    Also leg strength for low leaning and shoulder strength to hold up gun.

    General cardio helps for heartrate.
     
  19. bogon48

    bogon48 Member

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    Sorry to hear about the wreck, Trent. That kind of stuff takes a lot out of you. Glad you made it. I had a friend who didn't. Haven't been able to ride my motorcycle comfortably for three years. Ain't sellin' yet.

    Due to various long and short-term injuries, I've had to modify my workouts quite a bit from a few years ago. For me, almost any activity is better than nothing, even chair yoga or stretching. Movement helps me with short and long term pain, after I get past the initial unpleasantness. Endorphins, maybe. The more I do, the more I can do, even apart from shooting. I'm getting old, though; the capability ceiling is dropping. We all know how this ends. Enjoy it any way you want.
     
  20. Trent

    Trent Resident Wiseguy

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    bogon;

    I lost two friends I used to ride/race with last year on the track. Another two that I know were also seriously injured (life altering type, both bad head traumas). All died or were injured on the track. It's just something you grow accustomed to. Sounds cold, but it's the way it is. A good portion of my friends on Facebook have been 'improved' with titanium bits at this point. Good people, tight knit group. Even being out of the scene for two and a half years, I still talk and keep in touch with a lot of them. (If it wasn't for the bikers/racers I wouldn't even bother with Facebook!) There's something about sitting around a campfire in the paddock not knowing if the people you're drinking with are going to live another day that makes people grow real close. Damn dangerous sport.

    I probably could go back to doing it, my leg healed to the point it could bear the weight long enough for superbike sprints. But I look at my 5 kids and realize I've got a larger responsibility that puts my desires behind their needs.

    That holds true for 2A as well. My desires to live a comfortable, peaceful, ignorantly blissful life take second seat to preserving and protecting their heritage and freedom.

    Anyway don't want to drift too much.

    I got a heck of a work out today rearranging the gun room. Loads of upper body workout. Today was the 6th consecutive day I spent organizing and rearranging the gun room. I finally ran out of things to sort, clean, or organize. Well, excepting some cosomoline cleaning of some parts that I ordered this winter that are covered in goop, but my garage is unpleasant right now, not heated, so those can wait...

    Making room for a new safe, I had to move 11,000 50 cal bullets (675 per can), 8,000 30 cal pulls, god knows how many 45 and 223 bullets, and 6,000 50 cal brass, all in 50 cal ammo cans. Most of them weigh upwards of 70 lbs. Arms are very tired and sore right now. I literally moved 10 tons of metal today. (I guess I still have good upper body strength, just not apparently NOT in the muscles that hold a gun up!) :)
     
  21. btg3

    btg3 Member

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    The NRA format is: "Targets will be broken into two ten-shot targets or four five-shot targets."
    Is this the same continuous 20-rd slow fire as you practiced? Is there a time requirement such that you must keep your arms up?

    Also, shooters that IDPA or USPSA classified (essentially above novice) are exempt from the NRA shooting requirement.

    Having experienced a few bike crashes decades ago, the discomfort makes some days better than others. I find that the more I do, the more that I am able to do -- with the opposite being just as true. I seem to enjoy the most benefit from core conditioning and yoga (the flexibility gains were amazing).

    In any case, 16-day window is not much to work with, but it could be a great start on some longer-term goals.
     
  22. Trent

    Trent Resident Wiseguy

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    To be honest, I don't know what format the instructor is going to run. I've been shooting the worst case scenario; shoot 10, reload immediately, shoot 10 more. I still have to carefully focus myself to get tight groups when using non-target shooting guns (e.g. Glock, Taurus PT92, etc), so it takes me a while.

    I saw the NRA prequal doesn't mention caliber? Maybe I can get away with bringing my Ruger Mk 3 custom cheater pistol. I can shoot a 1" group with that offhand at 15 yards all stinking day long. Even tighter, if I leave the scope on it. :)

    Oh yeah you bring up a good point. When I do NOT get enough exercise my knees complain fiercely. Stretching helps but the only thing that really puts them back in order, is using them.

    The ankle is the real problem; since that tendon was torn and didn't heal, I have hard parts rubbing together. So any repetitive impact (jogging) or extended use (long walks) really gets to me.

    You should hear it when I get up in the morning. Sounds like a high-noon showdown gone wrong with all the popping and cracking coming from below the waist as I get up and moving. If I sit too long at my desk, and get up at work, sometimes one or both of my knees will pop loud enough people in the next office over can hear it.
     
  23. sanman513

    sanman513 Member

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    Dude, if you can hold a plank for 3 minutes, you're already strong enough....that is if the plank your talking about is the same that I'm thinking:eek:

    Sent from my DROID RAZR using Tapatalk 2
     
  24. sanman513

    sanman513 Member

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    [​IMG]

    Sent from my DROID RAZR using Tapatalk 2
     
  25. Trent

    Trent Resident Wiseguy

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    Well, I don't know. I put my hand together, elbows straight below my shoulders to support me, toes and elbows the only things contacting the ground, back straight as a board, and hold.

    The issue I've found planks, pullups, pushups (the trio I usually do) doesn't really get the muscles that hold up the gun.

    I'm going to add weights to the mix. Or use my net 44 mag for dry fire practice. That might do the trick. The thing weighs a metric ton now that I have the scope on it...

    EDIT: No not that kind of plank. :)

    This kind of plank;

    [​IMG]

    EDIT2: More appealing image, first had a (C) notice.
     
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