1. The objective of physical training in a pistol marksmanship training program is to condition the shooter physically, to better withstand the rigors of match conditions. An individual in good physical condition has better developed reactions, better control of his muscles and better endurance; all of which promote consistency in performance.

2. It is important that physical training not be of haphazard nature, nor should it be timed immediately before a pistol match. A shooter should perform physical exercises regularly, both during the preparation period between shooting seasons and during the period when the shooter is training for tournament participation. Morning limbering up exercises are important in this connection, and they should become a part of a shooter’s daily routine. It has been found that a physical training program should be discontinued approximately 3 days prior to a match and resumed immediately thereafter.

3. Physical Conditioning must consist of exercises of a general nature directed toward strengthening the muscles, proper breathing, developing body flexibility and precision of movement. The requirements of marksmanship are such that drills must consist of exercises which develop the muscles and flexor of the arms and fingers, and the muscles of the shoulders and waist. A certain amount of static tension (dynamic) type exercise is valuable if it is not overdone.

4. Whenever the shooter exercises, he must put the maximum effort into the exercise. Merely going through the motions of an exercise is of no advantage. Physical conditioning is a gradual process and results will not be apparent immediately. As the shooter’s physical condition improves, the number of repetitions may be gradually increased. Heavy exercise such as serious weight lifting should be discouraged.

5. Any sport that encourages regular physical activity is beneficial to a shooter. It is recommended that each shooter cultivate an interest in a sport that will insure sufficient exercises for all around physical fitness.

6. A muscle builds more rapidly under tension applied vigorously.

7. The stronger the muscle structure is developed, the surer movement can be coordinated and positions held. Besides general conditioning practices, durable muscle tension exercises of the trunk, shoulder and arm muscles make the most sense. Resistance exercises and grip exercises are in order. Physical training should take place at least three times a week for 30 minutes to an hour.

8. Sleep: During the training period the shooter needs plenty of sleep to give all the organs a chance for sufficient rest. Eight hours should be the rest interval. Before matches, insomnia sometimes occurs due to excitement. Under such conditions no sleeping pills should be taken the night before a match for they work out unfavorably the next day. Short walks in the evening, warm showers or a small snack will sometimes induce sleep.

9. Detrimental habits: Nicotine, caffeine and alcohol reduce the performance ability of the body and effect the ability to concentrate. (See Chapter X, “Effects of Alcohol, Coffee, Tobacco and Drugs.”)

10. Overall behavior: Before a match the shooter should avoid all types of excitement. For example, he should not drive fast and, if possible, arrive at the range one-half hour before the beginning of the match. That will give him plenty of time for his last preparations and he can prepare himself inwardly for the test ahead. The individual feeling of well being is the best measure of whether or not your living habits and daily routing is in the best interest of your shooting.


A physical training program should be progressive. It is not necessary or is it generally considered wise to strive for the peak condition sought by a track athlete or a professional football player. Violent and strenuous athletics which may result in injuries should be avoided.

The competition shooter must possess the following basic physical and physiological characteristics:

1. An adequately developed muscular system (this is especially true for the muscles of the abdomen, arms, and legs) and the endurance to fire many shots without perceptible worsening of results.

2. Lungs must have a high oxygen assimilation factor so that long pauses between inhalation will not cause oxygen starvation.

NOTE: A smoker’s lungs do not have a desirable oxygen assimilation factor.

3. Precision and coordination of bodily actions and thoughts. The physical training of a pistol shooter must be directed to the development of these qualities.


There are many different general types of exercises and activities that a shooter can use to his advantage.

1. Walking is a very good exercise. When walking, don’t just take a slow window shopping walk. To get any good out of it, you must make the walk very brisk.

2. Running: Results already obtained indicate a running program improves overall physical fitness, especially in endurance capacity and overall improvement of the heart, lungs, and the entire circulatory system.

Running and walking for a period of 12 minutes at least three times a week is, in itself, a splendid conditioner. Here again, the individual must apply himself diligently for the duration of the exercise period.

3. A series of mild, non-strenuous exercises of the type that require body bending, stretching, deep breathing and moderate muscular tension are best suited to obtaining a condition defined as good body tone and a feeling of well-being. Sore, aching muscles tend to fatigue quickly, and nervous tremor usually results.

4. In Swimming almost all of the muscles get a workout. Here again, the exercise should be pursued with moderation.

5. A good exercise to build the wrist and arm muscles in the wrist and forearm developer, roll-up exercise. A mop handle, a short length of rope and a weight, Roll it up and let it down slowly.

6. A method of developing the grip is by using a sponge rubber ball about 3″ in diameter, cut in half. Squeeze the ball with the shooting hand. You can take this aid with you almost any place you go, and exercise any time that you are not using your shooting hand.


The Pistol Team Daily Dozen was especially developed to affect those muscles used in pistol shooting. Figures 8-1 thru 8-12 will assist the instructor in understanding how these exercises are accomplished.

1. Warm Up: A four count exercise done in moderate cadence. This exercise is designed to get you ready for the forthcoming exercises. Starting position is standing with feet spread approximately 12 inches apart, hands extended overhead. At the count of one, bend at the waist ant knees, reach down between the legs, and place hands on ground. On the count of two, straighten body up, extending the hands over the head; at the count of three, perform same as number one; at the count of four, repeat number two.

2. Cat Stretch: The starting position is a modified leaning rest, the buttocks being higher. This is a four count exercise. Count of 1 is upward, pushing the buttocks higher. Count of 2, back to starting position. The count of 3 upward and on the count of 4, back to the starting position. This exercise uses the back and shoulder muscles.

3. Body Twister: The starting position is standing with arms extended parallel with ground, feet spread approximately twelve inches apart. This is a four count exercise. At the count of one, swing the arms to the right, keep the shoulders and arms rigid so the twisting movement is from the waist. On the count of two, swing to the right and front. At count of three, repeat count one to the left. At count of four, face to front. This uses the muscles along the sides and back of the trunk of the body.

4. Push-Up: The starting position is standing. This is a four count exercise. At the count of one, squat with hands on ground; count two, extend legs. Count three, cause the body to move downward; keep the body straight at all times. At the count of four recover to the raised position. Continue counts three and four as desired. End exercise by recovering to standing position. This uses the arms and shoulder muscles.

5. Back Bender: The starting position is standing with the feet spread twelve inches apart, hands on back of neck. On the count of one, bend back at the waist. On the count of two, recover. Count of three, bend backward at the waist; count of four, recover. This uses the back and stomach muscles.

6. Hip and Leg Spreader: The starting position is with the hands and toes on the ground. This is a four count exercise. At the count of one bend the elbows and touch the chin to the ground at the same time extending the left leg back and up. Count two, recover. The counts of three and four are repetitions using the right leg. This uses the arm and leg muscles.

7. Shoulder Exerciser: Starting position is standing with the feet spread and hands and arms at the sides. This is a four count exercise. At the count of one, extend the arms sideward, parallel to the ground. Count of two, rotate arms. Count of three, touch shoulder with hands. Count of four, recover. This exercise is to be done with dumbbells if available. This uses the muscles of the arm and the shoulder muscles.

8. Abdominal Kick: The starting position is lying flat with the arms extended to the side; at the count of one, raise your body with the weight on the buttocks and hands, legs straight together, about 15 degrees off the ground. At the count of two raise the legs toward the chest. Count of three, extend the legs outward, keeping the feet off the ground. Count of four, recover to starting position. This uses the stomach and leg muscles.

9. Side Bender: The starting position is standing with the feet together, arms at sides. At count of one, extend arms overhead, shift weight to bended left leg. On the count of two, bend at the waist to the side, count of three, recover to count one. Count of four, recover to starting position. Count 5, 6, 7, and 8 are a repetition, only bend to right. This uses the muscles along the sides of the body.

10. Body Kick: The starting position is flat on the back, arms behind head. At the count of one raise the body at the waist. Count two, resume flat position. At the count of three raise body and lift the right leg upward. Count of four, drop the right leg and lift the left leg. Count of five, drop left leg and lift right leg. Count of six, resume flat position. This uses the stomach and leg muscles.

11. Triceps Exerciser: The starting position is standing, arms at sides. At count of one, bend forward at the waist, arms hanging down. Count of two, raise arms parallel with the body. At the count of three, extend the arms to the left foot. Count of four, recover to count two. Count of five, extend the arms to the right foot. Count of six, recover to starting position. This exercise is to be done with dumbbells if available. This uses the triceps muscles.

12. Leg Spreader: The starting position is lying flat for count one. At the count of two, throw the legs back over the head, legs spread; extend the arms parallel with the ground. At the count of three, recover and reach for ankles. At count of four, resume lying flat. Count of five, spread legs and arms. Count of six, recover to count one. This uses the leg and stomach muscles.

To be effective, physical training for the pistol shooter must be realistic and continuous. The objective is to continue to condition the body so that the general health is excellent and that the muscular and nervous systems are fully capable of withstanding the grind of match conditions and enable the shooter to continue to assert his utmost skill.