As with any sport, and driven game shooting or clay pigeon shooting are no different, stretching before you take part is key to reducing the risk of injury and will undoubtedly improve performance.
Coordinating the movement of shoulders, upper body and gun in the right way is essential to a good shot. As age creeps in and hours in front of a computer or the wheel of a car takes its toll, muscle groups start to tense and restrict movement which in turn can impact your shooting accuracy.
Stretching exercises help warm the body up prior to activity, increasing muscle flexibility and range of motion enabling your muscles to work more effectively. Stretching also helps relieve tension and decreases the risk of injury and muscle soreness. You can boost your shooting performance on the day with our simple stretching exercises and make sure you give yourself the best shot at the target.
These 7 simple exercises can be done easily and in a short space of time once you arrive at your shooting location, be it in the field, at the clay pigeon shooting ground or the shooting range before taking up position. These exercises have been recommended by personal trainer and Pilates instructor Emma Larner from The Pilates Hub UK. They are designed to help you achieve an optimal neck and shoulder position alongside flexibility in the upper back to deliver a steady swing.
Each exercise requires the same starting standing position; feet should be hip distance apart, toes pointing forward, shoulders back and down, head looking straight ahead. Ease into each stretch and move slowly until you feel the targeted muscle or muscles gently extend.
1) NEck tilt
Tilt your head down so your chin touches your chest.
Hold this position for 5 seconds.
Return to the starting position and tilt your head back, looking up, hold for 5 seconds and return to the starting position.
Do this five times.
2) Side-To-Side NEck tilt
From the original starting position, tilt your neck toward one shoulder leading with your ear.
Hold for 5 seconds and then return to the starting position.
Do this five times on each side.
3) NEck turn
Look straight ahead, then turn your head to one side, keeping your chin at the same level.
Do this five times on each side.
4) Shoulder Circles
Put your hands on your shoulders and rotate your shoulders forwards in a circular motion.
Complete five rotations and then rotate backwards in the opposite directions a further five times.
5) Shoulder & Upper Back Twist
Fold your arms in front of your chest just below shoulder height. Twist your torso from the hips to the right, opening your right arm to swing round and stretch behind you.
Allow your head to follow the direction of the open arm looking over your shoulder along the extended arm.
Rotate back to the starting position and twist to the left, opening your left arm. Repeat to each side five times.
6) Side Stretches
Raise your right arm above your head and stretch up, then gradually arc up and over towards the left hand side to feel the side stretch.
Elongate the stretch and then slowly rise up to return to your initial position engaging your abdominal muscles.
Switch arms and begin the exercise on the other side. Repeat on both sides five times.
7) Roll Downs
Bend your knees slightly to keep them soft, tuck your chin down to your chest, let your shoulders drop forward as you start to bend your upper back, allowing the arms to dangle.
Leading with your head, slowly roll your entire spine forward and down towards the floor one vertebra at a time.
Once you have rolled down as far as is comfortable, you then need to reverse the process.
Repeat this exercise 5 times.
“These exercises will set you up well in achieving a relaxed and balanced shooting stance and making your swing more comfortable and natural. Try making them part of a daily routine and you will see the benefit more broadly”, advises Emma.
*If any of these exercises cause severe pain or weakness in your hands or arms, stop right away and talk with your doctor.
These exercises will set you up to achieve that relaxed and balanced shooting stance and making your swing more comfortable and natural. Try making them part of a daily routine and you will see the benefit more broadly.
Another important part of your shooting preparation is to make sure your shooting insurance is up to date. SportsCover Direct’s Sports Shooting Insurance starts from as little at £14.99 a year.