Camping & Survival

Training for Shooting and Survival—Building Your Buns

A guest post by Diana Del Garbino. This is my first article for Cheaper Than Dirt! although I’ve been a fan for years, as I’m a female gun nut. I shot my first BB gun when I was about 10 years old. Fortunately, I had one of those cool dads who let my brothers and me shoot the squirrels off the fence. Since then, I’ve upgraded from that little BB gun to Colt 1911s, .30-06, Benelli Shotguns and AR-15s.

The first time I thought about fitness or “being in shape” associated with shooting, survival and packing gear in and out of somewhere, was the first time I shot an Egyptian Mauser .30-06. I brought the gun up to my sightline, and the first thing I thought was holy crap this is heavy. Then I pulled the trigger; I’m sure you all guessed it—it knocked me back (but not down) and left a bruise on my shoulder the size of a softball.

From that day forward I thought, “That’s it. I’m going to be in shape to both lift and shoot a weapon like this.” I immediately began looking into workouts that supported my goals. For a female, there wasn’t a lot out there in relation to getting in shape for shooting. I began to modify my workouts by focusing on upper body, shoulders, back, abs and the like.

As I increased my strength in those areas, I became weaker on the lower portion of my body, similar to many men. You’ve all seen them. The guys who have a lot going on in the upper portion of their bodies, whether it’s a beer belly or muscle, but you look down and what do you see? They forgot all about their legs.

Other than vanity, why is this so important? Just think about your stance for shooting. It doesn’t matter if it’s an Isosceles or Weaver stance, kneeling or prone, what’s the most important component? A stable platform. Without a stable base from which to set up, the rest of your stance is going to be imbalanced and weak.

Let’s begin with basics. If the lower portion of your body needs to be the base, we need to understand what the base does and how it pertains to exercise. Think about the apocalypse and having to carry your essentials in an emergency. I don’t mean shampoo and clean underwear. I mean knives, guns, water, food and bullets—lots of them. Most important, of course, is water and emergency supplies; perhaps even young children or injured loved ones.

Your base needs to be strong enough to handle carrying these items at a moments notice. A mantra of, “I’ll get around to working out when I need it” will be too late. You need it NOW! Even if you have a wagon or cart to carry everything, you still have to load the wagon and pull it until who knows when. By having what I like to refer to as “surplus muscles,” you are building your base with more capability to hold more sucrose (sugar) aka energy. This is the base I’m talking about.

Having a solid base of strength is what will keep you going long after the weak have died out from being unprepared. Strength is life. Yes, you can muddle through for a period of time being weak, but it’s just going to get harder. You’ll have to work what seems like 10 times as hard. Just go to any airport and look at the weak people waddling around trying to pull a 15-pound suitcase. It’s unnecessary to feel that bad—and your life does not have to hang in the balance at the airport.

How do you start? Slow. Your arsenal wasn’t built in a day—unless, perhaps your name is Richie Rich. Start with basic exercises for your base—your legs. There are several components to your legs, the quadriceps or front of the legs, the hamstrings-back of the legs, the calves, and the front of the lower leg is known as the tibia anterior. And then there is the least worked, soft and squishy if you are lucky and barely able to hold your pants on…the glutes.

Building Your Buns

Lie on the floor on your back. Bend your knees so your feet are flat on the floor and your heels are almost touching your buns. Then squeeze your glutes and lift up your hips as high as you can. Hold for 30 seconds or longer.

Try this a few times a week to start; then increase the time you hold this exercise to get to a goal of 3-5 minutes. If you feel any cramping in your hamstring or your back, STOP and lower yourself back to the floor. Then start again. The cramping is a sign of weakness in your glutes!

What exercises do you do to keep in shape for shooting or bugging out? Tell us in the comment section.


The Mission of Cheaper Than Dirt!'s blog, The Shooter's Log, is to provide information—not opinions—to our customers and the shooting community. We want you, our readers, to be able to make informed decisions. The information provided here does not represent the views of Cheaper Than Dirt!

Comments (4)

  1. If you want to be in shape for your activities, you need to simulate those activities in your training. This is the Principle of Specificity. In the case of lower body strength, the two most probable movements will be squatting and standing up and walking/running. Make your exercises match those. Squats and lunges are good places to start. You can begin with your body weight then work your way up by adding weights a little at a time- think 5 lbs every 1-2 weeks. You can find videos online to demonstrate proper form, but the best thing is to find a qualified personal trainer (look for ACSM or NSCA certification) and purchase a session or two and get some one-on-one coaching on your form. Both of these exercises train all your lower body muscles at once, including your “buns” and thus are very time efficient. Aim for 8-12 repetitions in a row performed 1-4 times with 1-2 minutes rest between. If you can do more than 15 in a row, it is time to add some more resistance. Try to do them 1-3 times a week with a day off in between. Also getting in some walking/hiking/running for 20 min or more 3 or more times a week will keep your heart in good shape, too!

  2. A couple of years ago, I had trouble pulling my bow back after it got cold out. So I thought it was me, and I started exercise that targeted my upper body. I started slow with little weight and repetitions. I also lowered the bow weight to 60lbs. from 85lbs. I also took short hikes at first graduating to 2 miles and more. I carry a backpack, side arm, water, and other “stuff” that I would normally carry during the hunting season. I start about a month before the season starts. I hike down forest roads, and sometimes get onto Mountain Bike paths, or into the brush. If you don’t have access to a rural environment, you can take the stairs, park a ways from the store, etc. It’s basically a mind set, and determination to get in shape for that activity that you like to participate in. It’s definitely worth it, because you can concentrate on your sport and enjoy it. Try and make your pre season prep a fun thing, by including things that you like. Taking advantage of good weather, scenery, bring along a friend, or just enjoy a chance to explore the area. Remember to make a plan, relate your plan to someone, and keep safety at the forefront of your efforts. “Everyone comes home”! PS I’m 65 years young.

  3. Being in “shape” is a factor in accurate shooting if you can not hold the firearm steady . How you are you going to shoot it with any accuracy ?? Being a handicapped shooter has its own challenges. fOR EXAMPLE I must shoot from a seated position, because of my physical limitations. But, that does not stop me from shooting at CMP matches including but not limited to the NATIONAL MATCH at CAMP PERRY in Ohio, along with a lot of practice. Did i win YES because I made it there. Getting back to the subject. On my desk is a “dumb bell” that i will hold to strengthen my “shootin’ muscles. Does it work? I will say yes.

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