Reno Hardcore: Like a Powerful Crossbow

TAGS: proper position, hunting, good technique, fundamentals, bow hunting, basics, set up, reno hardcore, strength gains, chad aichs, powerlifting

elitefts™ Sunday Edition

The other day, I was yet again reminded as to how so many sports can be related to powerlifting, and I was also reminded how powerlifting is a sport still somewhat stuck in the testosterone-driven dark ages. Yes, I will admit (and have said before) that things in strength training are advancing, but in my personal opinion, there is still so many basics that get looked over—and sometimes without the basic ideas or concepts, the advance technology just isn't as good. Even in knowledge you can have a weakest link.

The reminder I speak of came about when my new compound bow arrived a couple of weeks ago. I have been busting my butt and working as much as possible to try to get my debt paid off, and I have spent very little except on things I absolutely need. However, I ended up getting a tax refund this year, and I decided that all of my hard work deserved something nice. I have been wanting a bow for a while and with all of the government's recent socialist acts, shooting has gotten a bit more expensive. So, it seemed like as good a time as any to get a compound bow. I have to admit, I am obsessed with anything powerful and have been for as long as I can remember. Therefore, shooting has always been a fun hobby that brings me a lot of happiness and stress relief. For me, a bow is a bit more raw than shooting, but it still has that power behind it. If an arrow moving at over 300 feet per second doesn't bring a smile to your face, then I am not sure what would.

I started shooting with my brother and his wife a few months back. I got to shoot his bow, as well as some of his friends', in order to get a feel for what bow I wanted. However, being that it was my first compound bow, I decided to get one that was already built. That way, I could change things as I learned more about it. Once I started shopping around, I found a bowhunting supply site that puts together hunt-ready kits, and you also get several choices on the different equipment. It turned out to be a great company and, luckily, a really good deal. I will admit that I am "blast or dust" in everything I do, so it took me a while to pull the trigger on getting this bow. I just kept thinking that I should be putting that money towards paying off my debt, but eventually I remembered what Jack Torrance said: "All work and no play makes Jack a bull boy." Needless to say, I got a bad ass bow and whenever I feel some regret at not putting that money towards bills, I just have to let a couple of arrows fly and I feel much better!

Along with my bow, the online bowhunting retailer sent a "getting started with your new compound bow" book. You can trust that I almost always throw directions away. I suppose I like the challenge of learning things on my own and, well, I hate to read, too. This time, however, I changed it up. I figured I would at least read it in order to learn how to best take care of my new bow. Most of it was pretty common sense stuff, but it was still worth reading, especially when I got to the section about shooting technique—specifically drawing the bow.  Right there on the very first line it says, "If you start in a bad position, you're likely to finish in a bad position." Damn it! I been telling powerlifters that for years! So many other sports teach and talk about this, yet I keep seeing powerlifters start like shit and/or never set up. This, of course, just leads to them finishing like shit, too. It goes on to say that "rather then learn bad habits, train yourself to draw your bow flat, level, and even." This is another thing that I have been saying to lifters for years.

These are two basic fundamentals that so many other sports talk about but that I rarely see used in powerlifting. It is truly awful and annoys me so much that when I do see someone with good technique at a meet, I will go up to him/her to introduce myself and tell him/her that he/she has excellent technique. What I should be doing, though, is thanking him/her for having good technique and lowering my frustration levels a bit. I really do get pissed at meets when I see people missing lifts because of bad setups and bad technique. They have the strength to get the lifts but are completely missing the fundamentals of lifting technique. I keep getting reminded of how so many other sports see the importance of these things, and I wish that I could get lifters to let go of the "grip it and rip it" ideals. I have said it over and over again: technique is the solid foundation to major strength gains!

The bow manuel correlates perfectly with how to hit big lifts. Once you start to draw back a bow, the tension increases. This tension, therefore, is going to make it much harder to correct your position at this point. What's more, your draw weight drastically reduces when you reach full draw with a compound bow, and finding the proper position can be hard to feel (as opposed to just drawing back correctly in the first place). While you do have a chance to correct yourself and find the proper position after the movement is started in the squat and the bench press (similar to the compound bow), with extreme heavy weights this is very very difficult. (This is more similar to a long bow or recurve bow—no let-up on the draw weight. It just increases with more draw length). When your are at super-maximal weights, it is almost impossible to correct during mid-descent—at least to correct fully into the perfect technical position. If you get set up in the correct position, then supporting the weight at the top of the lift will be easy. You will be able to handle it comfortably and make sure that your body is positioned perfectly. At this point, you can start the lift correctly and give yourself the very best chance to finish the lift in the correct and strongest position.

The deadlift, on the other hand, is a little different. It would be like someone else drawing the bow back and handing it to you. There is no eccentric phase for you to feel and to help you get into the right position. There is, however, still a set up position, and this begins once you grab the bar. You find the right position, tighten your whole body, pull the tension out of the bar at a 45-degree angle using only your back, and once you feel the perfect position, you explode up with the back. So many times I see people just bend over and pull the weight. Of course, they are usually in a terrible position, and the first thing their bodies do is try to find the right position. Yet, by that time, they are all over the place—usually with their butts starting the lift because they are trying to find the right position. However, once it starts moving, it has momentum and takes you right past the optimum position. This now turns a deadlift into a straight leg deadlift. There are many other variations of problems I see, but the end result is always the same. If you start wrong, you will probably end wrong.

In the simplest terms: You miss lifts that you have the strength to get because you don't take the time to set up correctly and use proper technique.

All of your bad ass, tough guy, hardcore-training in the gym doesn't mean shit if you miss the lift. How tough or bad ass do you think you look missing a lift you should have gotten? I would much rather spend time in the gym not looking so hardcore but learning good set-up and technique so that I do look hardcore and bad ass in competition.

Just because we are powerlifters and strength athletes doesn't mean that we can't learn from other athletes in other sports. Yeah, we are a little different and we are a little strange, but that doesn't mean that we shouldn't find knowledge wherever we can. And it doesn't mean that we should use that knowledge whenever we can. A strong mind and brain is just as important as a strong body. They go hand-in-hand, building off each other. Your stronger with both than with just one or the other. Remember, it always goes back to your weakest link.

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