Ethan Lowry on building core strength

Ethan Lowry takes a muscular approach to shooting with a look at the importance of building core strength.

Ethan Lowry is a physiotherapist and a researcher specialising in pain and nutrition. He makes it to the clay ground two or three times per month to indulge his passion for shooting

In comparison to sports like football and tennis, a layperson could be forgiven for assuming that clay shooting probably doesn’t require that much physical training – that is, exercise of the whole body rather than just your trigger finger!

As many of us would be quick to point out, a full day of shooting, whether on the clays, at a sporting shoot, controlling pests or stalking, can be both physically and mentally taxing.

Most athletes supplement their skill-based training with other forms of exercise aimed at building general fitness or strength, but many shooters tend to neglect this aspect of their beloved sport. Could fitness training help you become a better shooter?

Clay shooting does not require marathon level cardiovascular fitness or a bodybuilder’s muscular physique, but a solid foundation of core strength can have tremendous benefits for shooters. Let’s examine why.

The first aspect of shooting that many of us are taught – often before we even pick up our gun – is our stance. Our stance functions primarily as a solid base, ensuring that the frame of our upper body can turn efficiently and securely to follow the flight of a clay.

This solid base provides the counterforce that ensures our aim isn’t altered by the recoil from our gun. For most people, the stance they take before the trap is second nature – they don’t even think about it. Little do they know that the bulk of this work is done by what are commonly referred to as our ‘core muscles’. 

Most people assume that your core is simply your abdominals, which is to say your six pack (or lack of it)! But your abdominals are just one small part of your core musculature.

The core muscles are a group of muscles that are central to the body; they run across the lower back, the middle and lower parts of the abdomen, and across the pelvis.

These muscles are what turn your torso from side-to-side. They brace your abdomen when you absorb the recoil of your gun, and they strengthen your stance by supporting the muscles in and around your pelvis.

To train these muscles for the key role they play in the art of shooting is entirely logical, but most never even consider it.

Improving your performance in this way is largely about eliminating causes of failure rather than ensuring better scores when everything goes well! Reduce the frequency of problems, and your average score will improve. When focusing on your clay shooting scores, this principle holds true.

Clay shoots can be long tiring days; as you become exhausted, sore and stressed, basics like your stance can often suffer. That’s before taking into consideration days when we aren’t feeling well or when we have underlying pains or injuries.

So what can we do to help strengthen our core, so that we have a strong foundation when we are forced to place more stress on it than usual? Presented here are a few very basic exercises that I regularly prescribe to people who need to work on this aspect of their fitness.

There are plenty of different ones out there to chose from, but these will most definitely get you started.

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