Shoulder Pain & Archery | Types of Pain and How to Avoid it

Video shoulder pain from archery

Archery is a sport that can be practiced by people of all ages and physical abilities. It is a low-impact, highly attentive exercise that can help to improve your balance, coordination, and strength. While archery is usually a sport you can feel safe getting the kids involved in, there is no sport entirely free from risks of injury or slight pain. If you’re holding your bow incorrectly, that can cause strain or injury. Using a draw weight that is too heavy for you can cause faster muscle strain or an inability to draw the bow properly. The good news is these archery mistakes can be prevented!

Even if your stance is perfect and your draw weight is correct, you can still find yourself feeling sore after a day at the range. The most common injury in archery is shoulder pain caused by overuse. Here are some things to watch out for while practicing archery.

Types of Shoulder Pain

Rotator Cuff Tendons

The rotator cuff in your shoulder can be causing you pain for a variety of reasons ranging from inflammation and strain to a tear. While not very common, rotator cuff tendons can possibly be affected by archery shoulder injury or archery shoulder pain in front of the upper arm, resulting in difficulty lifting, reduced strength, and stiffness in the shoulders and neck.

Shooting in a big tournament can cause soreness and overuse, if you are not fully prepared. Some tournaments can tire out even the best of archers, so it is important to build up your strength.

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Strain or Overuse

Making the same motion over and over, especially when you factor in the weight of drawing your bow, can cause muscle strain. It is important for archers to take breaks often so that this type of archery shoulder injury does not occur.

Muscles can grow strained when holding the bow for too long. This kind of archery pain is often localized in the shoulder, back, and neck. This strain and overuse can lead to fatigue, which can ultimately cause issues with the archer maintaining their form and accuracy. If you find it difficult to continue holding your bow up properly, your muscles are probably fatigued and you need to rest.

Exercises That Can Prevent Injuries

Archery is a sport that relies on strength as well as balance. In order to build up the muscles and improve balance, there are a number of exercises that can be done.

Tip: Make sure you work both sides of your body with these exercises for maximum benefits.

Resistance Bands

Whether you’re into competitive archery, you’re an avid hunter, or you just like to have fun, archery is an activity that requires considerable flexibility, strength, and stamina. To prevent injuries when practicing archery, it is important to build up the muscles in your body.

Resistance bands are a great option for archery exercises as long as you’re working with a resistance you can handle. You never want to use a resistance band that is too light or too heavy for you. It’s important to always use the proper resistance level for your strength and ability level. If you don’t use the right level of resistance, you won’t get the results you need and the exercises will do nothing to prevent archery-related shoulder pain.

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Target the Rotator Cuff

Pulling exercises can help prevent injuries to your rotator cuff. When pulling, the rotator cuff muscles are used to propel the arrow forward. When these muscles are strengthened, they can withstand sudden movements that could otherwise cause injury. Here are some exercises that target the rotator cuff muscles:

  • Pull-ups
  • Dragon flag (flex)
  • Side planks with rotation
  • Arm circles with weights or bands


Yoga is a fantastic option for anyone who wants to prevent shoulder pain from archery. It is an all-over body exercise that requires little to no equipment and can be done anywhere. Different poses will focus on different areas of your body to build strength, increase your flexibility, and even improve your balance. You can even use yoga to warm up your muscles before you reach for your bow.


As long as you take care of yourself and your equipment, archery is a sport that anyone can enjoy safely. If you’re feeling sore or tired, take a break. If your strings are looking worn, replace them. And most importantly, remember to have fun!

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Ethan Smith is a seasoned marine veteran, professional blogger, witty and edgy writer, and an avid hunter. He spent a great deal of his childhood years around the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest in Arizona. Watching active hunters practise their craft initiated him into the world of hunting and rubrics of outdoor life. He also honed his writing skills by sharing his outdoor experiences with fellow schoolmates through their high school’s magazine. Further along the way, the US Marine Corps got wind of his excellent combination of skills and sought to put them into good use by employing him as a combat correspondent. He now shares his income from this prestigious job with his wife and one kid. Read more >>