We can often be guilty of overlooking how important shooting sports can be for our personal wellbeing. Target shooting is not only a brilliant sport for keeping you active, it also builds self-esteem, confidence, and is an excellent way to spend your downtime as well as develop lasting friendships. But if this isn’t enough, it is also proven to have measurable health benefits – both physical and mental.

In a report from the British Association for Shooting and Conservation (BASC), 95% of those surveyed said shooting was important to their overall personal well-being. This is in addition to a further 84% claiming it benefits their physical health.

Here’s our top five ways spending time on the trigger not only makes you a better athlete, but also helps you enjoy a healthier lifestyle.

1. Fine-tuning your fitness

There are many physical benefits to taking up shooting sports. Increased strength, stamina, balance, hand/eye coordination and fine motor skills are just some of the benefits.

For instance, hand guns greatly increase arm and wrist strength. When firing a pistol, it is important to be able to maintain control after the recoil as well as a steady arm for proper aim. Rifles require arm and upper body strength as well as proper positioning.

In addition, adjusting your body weight to the balls of your feet, and remaining still in your shooting stance is great exercise for your core muscles. This helps support proper posture. Strengthening the abdominal muscles allows the weight of the upper body to be evenly distributed over the front and back, improving balance.

To learn which exercises you should be doing to improve your shooting skills, check out our coaching for accuracy series: tips for physical conditioning.

2. Mental processing

Some say shooting is 90% mental and 10% ability. In order to be successful, you first have to asses and control all variables such as timing, reading the wind etc. All before performing the physical skill of getting into position, pulling the trigger and following-through.

Shooting sports requires intense, short-bursts of concentration in order to achieve good form. This is necessary to create a repeatable process that leads to consistent aim and good shot groupings.

During this process, the mind needs to block out all other thoughts and focus solely on the end goal. Correct finger placement on the trigger, adjusted position, slow and steady breathing. All of this is only possible if your mind is completely focused.

3. Adrenaline addiction

When taking to the firing line, there is undoubtedly a spike in adrenaline. Increased levels of adrenaline will signal your liver that it’s time to start breaking down glycogen. This is a substance that provides your body with glucose, the main source of energy for the body. This increase in energy levels releases the feel good endorphin, serotonin. Serotonin contributes to that feeling of happiness and can be a powerful, rewarding emotion.

4. Recoil therapy

The shooting range is a space where you need to be extremely focused. You can’t be distracted when in control of a firearm and have to leave chaos of everyday life behind.

Shooting sports also require you to focus on your breathing which should be slow and steady. This breathing pattern is proven to help calm individuals making them feel instantly more relaxed.

5. Developing self-discipline

In a sport where success depends almost entirely on dedication and practice, target shooting is pivotal for developing skills such as self-discipline. Discipline is necessary to fire one shot after another with consistent and proper technique. While many shooters develop a shot plan or routine, it takes self-discipline to execute that routine consistently. This is particularly true in a competition setting when the pressure is high and there are always distractions.

Shooting sports makes your brain zero-in on the task at hand and increases your concentration levels.

With all these combined benefits, it will come as no surprise that shooting sports is one of the longest standing competitive sports. Now you have a few more excuses to get yourself down the range.