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I train archery as part of my martial arts training. What is the best way to lower or control heart rate before taking shot? Assuming I have been doing activity that raised it. I know just waiting for few minutes will resolve the issue, but I'd just like to know if there is any technique that would speed up that process.

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+1 for archery! –  Bob Cross Feb 3 '12 at 18:45
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6 Answers 6

up vote 17 down vote accepted

In the fire service we have to train on conserving air in life safety situations. So we work on breathing control which lowers our heart rates as well.

One method Reilly-Emergency Breathing Technique (R-EBT):

While exhaling, “hum” your breath out in a slow, consistent manner. The hum is low and usually cannot be heard over the low-air alarm. In situations where you need to disentangle your SCBA or rapidly move around obstacles, it may be difficult to continuously hum after each breath. Breathe as you normally would and intermittently use the R-EBT. The more you use the R-EBT, the more it will increase your survival time. Try it.

The goal is not to 'hold your breath' because that will trigger your body to panic for O2. Take deliberate, calm controlled breaths and your heart rate will lower. In addition don't flex or tighten up, stay relaxed, and loose.

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You should also consider breathing techniques for scuba divers. Not only must a diver conserve O2, but they must also use their lungs to maintain buoyancy. –  Ginamin Feb 2 '12 at 8:39
    
This is the answer I was hoping I'd be able to write. Besides, in archery, like in other martial arts, breathing is everything. –  Trevoke Feb 2 '12 at 15:24
    
Ha! This makes sense. –  Ho-Sheng Hsiao Feb 6 '12 at 16:37
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In hypnosis, we often see a subject's heart rate decrease as they begin to enter a hypnotic or hypnogogic state... Essentially, as the mind calms, the heart rate decreases... Therefore, an easy way to decrease your heart rate is simply to calm down.

Since this, of course, is not much of an answer, I'd suggest this little exercise.

  • Step up to the firing line.
  • Take your stance.
  • Take a relaxed grip: one hand on the bow, the other on the arrow and string.
  • Close your eyes.
  • Take a deep breath in.
  • Visualize yourself drawing the bow, firing, and hitting the target.
  • Let the breath out.
  • Raise the bow.
  • Take aim.
  • Breathe in.
  • Fire.
  • Breathe out.
  • Relax and reflect on how your shot differed from your visualization.

This may seem completely bogus, but the result is a peaceful calm and assuredness in the shot, both of which will ease any anxiety and allow you to achieve a more relaxed heart rate. The first time, you won't see a significant difference, but with repeated use you create a recallable state which you can enter into at will. By reflecting on your visualization, you're helping to cement the idea that your visualized event was your reality and that you can take control of that reality at a moment's notice.

Edit:

Swift reminded me of another thing that's similar in effect to what he was proposing – a form of yogic exercise called Pranayama. They have corollary forms in Togakure-ryu ninpo, and I generally teach it as an aside to training in the water to reduce the amount of air needed when under the water.

Rather than get into it in detail, since there are various aspects which could be of a great deal of use to you, I will suggest you check out a great introductory text on the subject, The Yoga of Breath.

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Controlling your breathing, by slowing your breathing and movement right down. Big long slow breaths Helps to have a heart rate monitor and you can watch the changes in your heart rate based on your breathing and relaxing.

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Keep breathing, as steadily and as deeply as you can. In tai chi you are often taught to breathe in to the count of six, and breathe out to the count of six (seconds), such that the hairs in your nose do not move. Not always possible even at the best of times but a good ideal to strive for. I find that simply focusing on this helps a lot after a quick burst of cardio activity.

Certain moves such as those practiced in qigong - raising the arms in sync with your breathing - help expand your lung capacity. Breathing deeply into your dantian using your diaphragm trains your body to engage your core muscles in the act. Doing this in a controlled manner should help you steady your pulse, but it also helps move air more efficiently during peak exertion.

Lastly, simply doing regular hard cardio sessions will naturally increase your capacity for being active with your heart rate staying relatively low. If your body is stressed beyond what it is used to, then all the techniques in the world won't help.

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A way to lower your heart rate that, in my view, is easier than the other answers, is this:

If possible, first lie down. Then maximize the tension in as many muscles of your body as you possible can, and hold the tension for, say, three to five seconds. Then, all of a sudden, let go of all tension, and just imagine yourself floating in a calm sea, or lying back in you sofa on a Sunday afternoon, or lying in sunny, grassy meadows (this picture is my personal favourite), or whatever relaxes you most.

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For me, inhaling as much as you can, and slowly exhaling.

I press my lips, much like when you try to whistle, and push air through. You may hear a quiet 'wooosh' sound.. It helps to reduce my heartrate so that i could pace myself.

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