The staff at Girl’s Guide to Guns are neither MDs nor exercise specialists.  Be sure to check with your doc before beginning a new exercise regimen.

We’ve written before about how mentally empowering shooting can be, but we haven’t yet touched on the physicality of it.  When going to the shooting range, doing warm-up exercises are probably not on your prep list, but maybe they should be.  We all know that ache the day after shooting.  It comes from your core, shoulders, back and chest.  And then there are the pains in muscles we didn’t even know we had!

There are a few things you can do to prepare yourself for the physical demands of shooting, whether you’ll be shooting handguns, rifles, or shotguns.  There are also more regular programs you can do to keep your core in shape, which is very important for shooting and your overall health in general. If you just want to focus on exercises for shooting, we recommend doing some arm strengthening, stretching and even endurance training. All of these factors will make you a more accurate, all-around better shooter.

First, there is overall fitness. During the winter months it’s not uncommon to feel like the rusted version of the tin man. Oil those joints and muscles back up to speed so that come warm weather or some range time, you’re not lamenting all that time you spent on the couch! Dr. Edward R. Laskowski of the Mayo Clinic suggests a little cardio every day to keep that body humming properly:

“As a general goal, include at least 30 minutes of physical activity in your daily routine. If you want to lose weight or meet specific fitness goals, you may need to increase your activity even more. If you can’t set aside time for a longer workout, try 10-minute chunks of activity throughout the day. Remember, the more active you are, the greater the benefits.”

If 30 minutes seems daunting to you, start small.  Take a walk around the block, use the stairs to get to your office, or head to the coffee shop or lunch place that’s 5 blocks away instead of 1.  Every little bit helps.

Then there’s conditioning.  To keep those muscles in tip top shape and even strengthen them a bit, you’ll need to do some targeted exercises.  Our faves include yoga, Pilates, ballet, cardio barre, and our newest obsession thanks to the lovely Shemane Nugent: Zumba.  These techniques that focus on your core are a great way to prep for any type of shooting.  Plus they give you those long, lean, strong muscles so you look good doing pretty much anything!

If you’re already in great shape, like our friend Aysha Webb, you might want to check out Cross Fit – it’s the principal strength and conditioning program for many police academies and tactical operations teams, military special operations units, champion martial artists, and hundreds of other elite and professional athletes worldwide.

Stretching is also important when you hit the range. Be sure to focus on your back, neck and shoulder area. New shooters have a habit of tensing their shoulders when they are concentrating on the target.  Even experienced shooters can fall in to this trap, too.  Stretching before you fire will help loosen up those muscles and make you more aware of keeping them relaxed when you take aim.

The secondary benefits to working out are widely known: warding of illness, better sleep, more energy, glowing skin, clearer thinking, elevated mood and much more. You can officially tack on “better aim” to that list, as well. Pros like our friend Julie Goloski say working out is a vital part of their competition schedule. You’ve gotta stay fit to effectively hit those targets. Now we can’t promise you’ll look like Milla Jovovich, but maybe you can improve your form.  Try these exercises out for a few weeks and let us know about the improvement you see in your shooting!

Note: this article was written at the request of one of our readers. If you have anything specific you’d want us to write about, hit us up in the comments below or on our Contact Us page.