I am always amazed how much money hunters will spend on the newest gear and technology to gain an advantage in the woods, all while ignoring their fitness and hunting skills.  Your body is your most lethal weapon; a bow is just an extension of that weapon.  We spend time and money to make sure our equipment is in proper working order that during the moment of truth it will perform but somehow don’t see the value in that same amount of care a preparation of the “human machine” which requires far more care and matinance to perform than any bow or rifle.  Simply put athletes make better hunters because their body and sense are finely tuned to be at its best when the game is on the line.  Before you dismiss the rest of this article because you have never been into sports let me assure you hunting is a sport and you are an athlete.  Everyman is has an athlete with in him; it is that sprit that drives us to compete and seek risks and adventure.  Your instinct to be an athlete is just as strong as your instinct to hunt; the feeling you get when you triumph over a challenge is no different than the one you get when you provide for you family from the fruits of the wild. Below are 3 benefits you will receive as a hunter when you choose to release your inner athlete.
Communication – Fit athletic individuals are often thought of as having strong bodies but their true strength lies in their nervous system.  To keep it simple let’s just say the function of the nervous system is to run communications throughout the entire body.  Improved “communication” can have many benefits for hunters including;
·         Improved reaction times.  “Quick” athletes are made not born. Consistent training improves the speed of communication from the brain to the muscles and vice versa,  this allows the body to react more rapidly to a stimuli.  Vision works into the equation as well, your brain gathers enormous amount of information from your eyes, and improved communication makes this process more effective.
·         Body Awareness.  The term used to describe a person’s awareness of their body and movement is space is call proprioception.  Again through training athletes have very high proprioceptive abilities; this same ability will benefit bow hunters during their draw cycle.  Being able to “turn on” certain muscles (especially postural) at will leads to more accurate and consistent shooting.  Often in archery articles you read about the importance of practice at short ranges to develop “muscle memory” for your draw cycle, athletes will more quickly develop that memory and it will “stick” in the brains better.
good posture – the benefits of good posture are 2 fold; first it will lessen the stress put on upper and lower back from excessive sitting in a tree stand.  The second is a biggie, more accurate shooting!  Posture is all about putting the body in the proper position so that everybody shows up to work; good posture is the cornerstone of core stability.  What I mean by that is if my shoulder blades are in the correct position in relationship to my ribcage and pelvis there are more muscles active to give my “structure” rigidity and a stable platform.  In this sinerio the work of drawing and holding at full draw while keeping a steady pin are shared throughout all the muscles in the body (when standing).  It’s the difference between having 2 friends come over to help you plant a new food plot or 20.
Breathing and heart rate – this is kind of a given.  A trained body has a lower resting heart rate and is able to make better use of oxygen.  Translation for hunters; when you see that buck and your heart begins to race it will not rise to the levels that will affect your shooting because it is starting at a lower rate.  Second you don’t need as much oxygen because your body has become efficient at using it, this gives you more control of your breathing and allows you to take smaller breaths that will keep your pin on target better even at an elevated heart rate.
Recovery – Sitting all day long can be very demanding on the body.  Sitting puts us in a very negative posture that causes excessive stress and tension on specific areas, when standing this same stress provided by gravity is better distributed throughout the entire body.  A fit athletic body will recover better and faster from the stress of sitting allowing you to sit all day and then recover better so you can do it again!  Bodies that are inactive do not deal with stress well because they are not as used to it.  A fit and athletic person’s body is under the constant stress of training and exercise and responds in a very positive manner by adapting to that stress to become stronger and speed up its recovery process so it is ready for the next round.  Think of a cell phone battery, if I want to make a 30 min phone call and my battery is full I have plenty of power to make the call and can expect that the phone will recharge quickly to full power.  If I start my call with only a 50% charge on the battery that same 30 minute call will leave my battery almost fully drained and it will take me much more time to charge back up