General

The Importance of Fitness

Fitness in the shooting world is not a new thing. Vuurwapenblog put up a very good post two-ish years ago called Fat is Not Tactical that has stuck with me for a while. Monderno, TFB, and a variety of other blogs and magazines have all espoused the same thing. I don’t want to rehash their arguments. Upper body strength and good muscle tone are, of course, cornerstones of good health and should be sought after by everyone. They enable you to simply do things easier. Everything from weapons manipulation to pulling yourself out of a tough situation.

Being active duty, I have my physical fitness tested regularly. However, I will be the first to admit that I have not held myself to the highest standards. I could probably stand to run more, or lose a few pounds around my midsection. I wouldn’t call myself “fat” by any means, but I don’t look how I would like to look either. I can come up with all sorts of excuses why I haven’t put in the time and discipline to make those goals happen, but they would just be excuses that display poor prioritization on my part (food GOOOOOOD, exercise HAAAAAAARRRDD).

I don’t want to rehash all of the arguments that have already been made. I just want want to reiterate what I think is an important point. I don’t know what other members of the shooting community think of the idea of an “Everyday Marksman.” It could be a hunter who stalks the woods, or sits in a tree. It could be a military member, or police officer looking to hone their skills. It could be a doomsday prepper. Maybe its a long range shooter who spends most of their time laying on their belly with a bipod. In all honesty, it does not matter. Being healthy and fit will benefit every one of those categories. Fitness directly affects the fundamentals of shooting.

Better cardiovascular fitness keeps heart rates lower, which offers less reticle ‘jump’ when shooting at longer ranges. It allows one to recover their breath more quickly after exertion, and hold it better during the natural respiratory pause.

Muscular strength allows one to better carry and stabilize the weapon. It better enables weapon manipulation. In a catastrophic situation such as an accident or disease, there is a direct correlation between an individual’s muscle mass and how long they survive.

Flexibility is absolutely key to positional shooting. I’m not a young buck anymore, but I still seem to have relatively little trouble kneeling and squatting compared to some of my peers when showing them how to shoot from various positions. I attribute this to what workout regimes I have managed to stick to over the years, which have been very good for lower body strength and flexibility (in fact, I think I have often favored lower body workouts at the expense of upper body strength because I always found it “easier”).

This has all been on my mind lately due to a few circumstances that have been going on my personal life. Someone very close to me is suffering from failing health, from diseases that could have largely been prevented by properly caring about health over the long term. They are not the first of my circle to go through this. It serves as a not-so-subtle reminder that good health and fitness are not short term goals, but rather the end result of a lifetime of decisions and practice. It is a reminder that the things we do now may not affect us for many many years, but eventually they will catch up to us. I don’t want to get to that point in ten, twenty, or fifty years from now and then say, “If only I had made a better decision back then….”

You and your body can only do things right up until the moment that you can’t. At that point, Humpty Dumpty already fell off the wall and can’t be put back together again.

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7 thoughts on “The Importance of Fitness”

  1. Agree completely, especially the flexibility part.
    And with the lower body emphasis. My philosophy has been “upper body is for show, legs are for GO!” Not always true, but serves me well.

    1. I agree with you on the go vs show part. Upper body has its place, especially in challenging scenarios that may involve life or death, like pulling yourself up over a ledge. But it’s the lower body that will get you places and do it quickly.

      In the end, overall strength is good to have as well as conditioning and flexibility. When I did the Appleseed event in August, one of the instructors asked if I could run two miles without stopping. I looked at him as if that was an odd question, “Of course I can.” He then offered that I could try taking more than one shot with each pause of breath. It made me think that he must see a lot of people in the shooting sports who lack what I consider basic conditioning.

    1. Thanks for the comment! I’m surprised by the amount of traffic this post has received. I think I may start including some exercises that would help with shooting.

      1. Heck just dry-firing the positions is a big help in getting your body accustomed to them. Sitting is especially hard for most folks due to lower back/hamstring tightness, and prone gets you at the rear of the support side shoulder.

        Then, there’s the matter of getting up and back on your feet quickly….

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