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By Shari Spivack

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Manasquan, NJ --( New Year’s is just behind us so it’s traditionally a time to be thinking about what to resolve to do better this coming year.

Keeping fit usually tops the list of promises we make to ourselves at the start of each new year, but it is also one of the most difficult resolutions to keep up with.

A workout designed around exercises that would benefit one of your favorite hobbies might inspire more commitment. What if each repetition in the gym (or basement) added some extra punch to your overall fitness when engaging in firearms sport or training?

Building a strong core is always an important foundation with any extended use of specific muscles groups as well as for endurance and balance. Basic floor exercises including crunches, scissor kicks and other exercises that strengthen the abdominal muscles are going to be the foundation for everything else you do in your workouts. A fatigued body will rely on a strong core to ground it. But there are some exercises that pay specific attention to strengthening muscles that will be used when holding firearms out at arms’ length for long periods of time.

When I started taking more advanced shooting classes I started to think about how I could use my daily workouts to target the muscles used to sustain the long periods holding and maneuvering my firearms. I was already working with a personal trainer, Fabian Thorne at Built 2 Last Fitness (, so we discussed how to include exercises in my training sessions to target the specific muscles used in shooting.

There are obviously many strength building exercises but here are three easy ones you can add as part of a regular program and that can offer results to reduce strain on tired muscles.

Hold both arms out straight to your sides and rotate them clockwise in small tight circles for 100 repetitions. Then do the same in counterclockwise motion. This will build strength in the muscles used when holding arms outstretched for great periods of time. Add hand weights as you increase your endurance.

In the next exercise, sit down and take a five pound dumbbell in one hand (or whatever weight is appropriate for you fitness level). Rest your wrist on the edge of your knee and move your hand up and down at the wrist. This movement will build strength in the wrists which help hold heavy objects in outstretched arms, where disproportionate weight is being held in one hand.

Balance is also as important as muscle strength when incorporating movement into training exercises. To improve balance, try alternate side forward leg lunges while holding five or ten pound dumbbells. Begin with eight repetitions on each leg. When returning to the center standing position after each forward lunge, include an arm curl and when doing lunges in the reverse direction include an arm raise as you return the leg to the center standing position. Repeating lunges several times on each leg improves balance and strength.

Generally, it can be helpful to train under the conditions you will find your mind and body subjected to in a particular situation. For example, law enforcement officers will train with firearms simulators to imitate situations where the mind will have to make a split second decision as to a threat and then take action. Training courses that teach shooting on the move and under stress are good ways to test how an individual will respond in an unusually difficult situation.

However, the best way to prepare physically is to be in the best shape possible. A regular exercise program to strengthen the core muscles, with special attention to the muscles used in shooting (as in the exercises listed above) may provide an advantage in combating muscle fatigue; for example, from holding a gun in an outstretched arm for a long period of time – possibly even hours as in police crisis situations.

If you enjoy your workouts as much as I do, then the added knowledge that the exercises you are performing may also benefit your shooting skills could give you that extra incentive to keep up the program this New Year.

(For more information on personalized sports targeted fitness programs contact Fabian

About Shari Spivack;
I am a wife, mother and firearms instructor who has my own passion for shooting, teaching and continuing to educate myself with all types of firearms in a safe and responsible manner. It is always my pleasure to talk to other women gun owners – please feel free to email me at

  • One User comment to “Exercises to Improve Your Shooting”

    1. […] or kettlebells. And a hand squeezer.…_june_2011.pdf Exercises to Improve Your Shooting I found the hand squeezer is helping me with weak hand […]

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