You can, apparently, sprain your butt from shooting a bow, although I suspect you’d need a really powerful bow and really weak butt muscles. But it is possible, because shooting a bow uses a lot more muscles than you’d think. Let’s review them, shall we?

• You’ve got all kinds of shoulder muscles: latissimus dorsi, teres major, and the deltoid, to name just a few. (The Deltoids have lived down the street from us for years and have never invited us over for dinner.)

• You’ve got neck muscles, including part of the trapezius and the levator scapula. (Levator is not related to Lipitor, by the way. It’s not available in pill form.)

• Your “core” muscles: rectus abdominis, erector spinae, and obliques. (These were all formerly known as “stomach” muscles. Somehow “core” edged that term into obscurity. Core must have really good PR people.)

• Your hip and upper leg muscles: gluteals, hamstrings, quadriceps. (I’ve never quite understood where the word “hamstring” comes from. The online Collins dictionary I use is extremely helpful in this regard. The totality of its word-origin entry for hamstring, which it traces back to the 16th century, reads thus: C16: ham1 + string.)

As we age—okay, as I age—these muscles become weaker, more prone to injury, and slower to heal. In short, a bad deal all around. I screwed up my rotator cuff last fall and have been nursing myself back to shooting form. This entails a whole bunch of weird shoulder exercises and very, very little shooting. Like a maximum of five shots per session and no more than three or four sessions a week for now.

To keep from getting dispirited, I tell myself that these early sessions aren’t about shooting accurately. They’re only to reacquaint my body with the perilous act of shooting a compound bow. Yesterday, I went out and shot five arrows at 20 yards. And, probably because I wasn’t thinking about accuracy, I shot the tightest 20-yard group of my life.

Which makes perfect sense. Once you stop grasping at accuracy like the monkey with its paw in the cookie jar, accuracy comes on its own.

Photo by the author