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What Is Foot Archery & How Does It Work?

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Tim Rhodes

Foot archery is an unusual form of archery.

It is not only because of the use of the feet themselves to throw the shots, but also because it’s extremely hard to pull off.

It’s a discipline not recognized as a sport but generally known as a spectacle in a circus or other entertainment events.

If it’s your first time seeing Cirque Du Soleil or other circus acts, then and it’s only then that you have a better view of foot archery.

And yes, this may be the reason why you suddenly become interested in the act.

And why wouldn’t you?

It looks enchanting and challenging enough that it caught your attention.

Table of Contents

What Is Foot Archery And How Does It Work?

And if you’re looking for in-depth information about foot archery, then this content is just for you!

In this article, we’ll satisfy your curiosity about foot archery and help you determine whether it’s a good fit for you.


But before I begin, I’d like to mention first that the process relayed in this article is only the basics of foot archery, and maybe based on the authors’ interpretation.

This content aims for educational purposes only and to provide you an overview of how this discipline works.

Therefore, you shouldn’t use this as an official guideline to the act and seek advice from professional contortion archery artists.

So with disclaimers out of the way, let’s start.

What is Foot Archery?

As explained earlier, foot archery, or more popularly known as Contortion Archery, is a form of archery that uses the leg and toes to draw and aim at your targets.

Such discipline is in use for centuries now, but it’s not typically used in war during those early periods mainly because it’s impractical.

They may also be very ineffective since aiming at a moving target is almost impossible.

The mechanism to draw in a traditional bow is straightforward.

However, it’s going to be a lot harder to pull it off if you’re not drawing it from your arms.

And to add the level of difficulty, the performer’s position is often awkward and contorted manner—thus, it’s where the name contortion artist came from.

The back of the archer is bent, with their hips over their heads.

As you see, even getting in this position already possesses a lot of challenges.

Gaining power and maintaining momentum requires power from your legs.
And the ability to draw and hold your aim requires a strong grip from your toes.

Overall, a strong upper body and balance are the key for you to succeed in this form of discipline.

And therefore, strength training that especially focuses on the upper torso is extremely beneficial because it’ll hold your balance.

I’ll explain this in the later section of this content.

I also mentioned in the introduction that there are no governing or specific bodies that regulate this form of archery.

For one good reason, it’s generally not a sport recognized by any organization.

Also, it’s not a competition-worthy act, in my opinion.

Like mounted archery, foot archery isn’t part of the Olympics.

And you may only see them in a circus act.

If you want to know how it works, then let’s continue.

How Does Foot Archery Work?

The most popular position of foot archery is the shots thrown over the head.

However, there are many poses you can choose from as long as you’re using your lower body to draw the bow and arrow.

The shots over the head are more recognizable because they’re more difficult and challenging to pull off.

One of the most memorable contortion archery performances I saw was in 2016 in America’s Got Talent by Sofie Dossi.

In the performance, she tried to contort her body first, attempting to eat an apple before drawing the shot.

She hit the center of the target within 8 feet of range, I would say.

Needless to say that it was an amazing act that wowed even the harshest of critics like Simon Cowell.

You can also check her full performance.

As you see in her performance, foot archery requires the combination of both upper and lower body strength, versatility, balance, and focus.

Aside from strengthening your upper torso, your lower body is as important because it’s there where you’ll draw the power to aim and take the shot eventually.

I will briefly present some of the exercises that could help you in your training.

In addition to strength exercises, you also have to consider other essentials like cardio workouts, coordination, and versatility.

Concentrating on your coordination is important because it improves your aim and ability to hold your shot.

As a result, it increases your chance of hitting the target.

Versatility or flexibility needs no explanation.

It’s also the reason why some are referring to them as contortion archery.

For you to have effective flexibility, you also need to have outstanding cardio.

A simple cardio exercise you can do immediately is running.

Upper Body Exercise For Foot Archery

As repeatedly emphasized, the shots over the head are probably the biggest attention of foot archery.

However, you have to note that this form of archery isn’t just a hobby that you can just pursue and then expect to get decently good at in a short period.

The flexibility of the contortion artist or the act of bending alone takes months or even years in some instances to perfect.

An important aspect of this is to improve your upper body strength.

Some of the best exercises you can begin with are as follows:

Cat-Cow Stretch

This is an excellent way to kickstart your training.

The Cat-Cow Stretch is pretty straightforward and just plain easy.

This workout focuses on improving flexibility on your back, shoulders, and shoulders.

Bridge Stretch

Bridge stretch is an excellent core strengthening training.

However, it may be a little advance to work on.

This workout focuses on improving the versatility of the spine, hips, thighs, and neck.

Back Stretch

This form of wellness workout isn’t only good for your lumbar.

It can also help you minimize any soreness or mild discomfort on your back.

The position of the stretch is sort of similar to an incomplete pushup.

Your stomach lays flat on the ground as you work out on your flexibility.

Extended Puppy Stretch

Since your lumbar will play a critical role during the performance, this extended puppy stretches another exercise that focuses on improving your back’s strength and flexibility.

Seated Spinal Twist Stretch

Aside from enhancing the versatility of your spine, it’s also effective on your chest and shoulders.

They are an important factor since you’re going to balance most of your performance.

In the next section, let’s talk about how you can strengthen your lower torso.

Side Angle Stretch

This is a simple yet effective stretch that aims to strengthen multiples in your body.

It includes the groin, abdominal muscle, spine, and hamstrings.

What you need to do here is to move sideways and then stretch your arms upward.

Doing them as a warm-up exercise would also help you improve stamina and endurance during the training duration.

Seated Hamstring Stretch

Just like the previous, it’s more of a warm-up exercise to help you get to increase your stamina during your foot archery workout.

Aside from such benefits, you’ll also benefit from improved flexibility, posture, and preventing possible injuries from occurring.

It could also help people that are suffering from lower back soreness.

Lower Body Exercise For Foot Archery

The lower half of your body is also of extreme importance since you’re going to draw using your legs and toes.

In particular, this exercise will specifically target the following points:

  • Quadriceps
  • Calves
  • Gluteus Maximus
  • Hamstrings

Besides helping you improve your foot archer skill set, it’s also significantly beneficial to your overall health and wellness.

Individuals experiencing pain in their lower torso, especially in the hamstring, may also find some of the workouts related in this article as useful.

Anyway, let’s go over some of the top lower body exercises that can help you in your foot archery training:

Sumo deadlift

The first workout I’d like to mention here is a leg exercise called sumo lift.

You also have to take note that this form of exercise will require you to use the equipment.

And it’s a kettle in this case.

The benefits of this workout you have to note are that it strengthens the buttocks, hamstrings, and quadriceps.

Stability Ball Bridge

Another leg workout I find that could provide tremendous aid is the stability ball bridge.

And the reason why I believe it to be is that it focuses on your hamstring, which is one of the focal points when drawing the bow.

However, you’ll also need equipment to accomplish this workout.

And in this case, it’s the stability ball.

Bulgarian Split Squat

Again, this workout also focuses on your hamstring, which is especially beneficial to your drawing power.

The Bulgarian split squat improves muscle in the lower torso, specifically in the quadriceps, calves, and buttocks.

Banded Lateral Walk

The branded lateral walk is probably the easiest one on this list.

All you have to do is to walk in lateral movements with a stretchable band on your calves.

But as simple as they may seem, they’re effective in warming up your lower torso before you begin your training.

Stability Ball Hip Thrust

The focus of this workout is to strengthen your abdominal core.

It primarily includes the abdomen, lower lumbar area, and pelvis.

This is especially beneficial because it stimulates your hip muscle, which is important as you maintain your balance during the act.

Isometric Calf Raise

As mentioned, your toes also play a pivotal role because it’s the one that you’ll use to stretch the bowstring backward.

The workout is relatively simple; all you need are two small dumbbells.

And then, you’ll need to attempt to reach upwards through your toes.

Duck Walks

Because you’ll rely mostly on your lower body for the initiation, it may also draw a high amount of power during training and actual act.

Duck Walk is excellent because aside from leg strength, it also improves your immunity and stamina.

Beginners’ Foot Archery Set Buying Guidelines

When you’re just starting with contortion archery, it’s essential, to begin with, to practice bow sets.

Because of its level of difficulty, accidents may likely to occur during the process if you’re not careful.

The arrow’s sharp edges may fall directly on you if you’re unable to handle the nock or bottom part of the arrow properly.

Therefore, I highly recommended that you start with a beginners’ bow and arrow or those that don’t have a sharp end.

Using these types of arrows is also especially handy if you’re practicing your foot archery skills within your household.

It’s in this manner that we lessen accidents.

As you advance in skills, it’s only then that you can use real bows.

But I believe that it’s still not safe to draw them inside of your house.

Perform such acts outdoors, an indoor range, or any wide enough space where accidents are unlikely to occur.

So what are the factors to look for in buying a beginners’ bow set?

There are several considerations you have to bear in mind, and it includes the following:


We have to first take note of the weight of the bow.

And they’re supposed to be lightweight since there’s not much power you can draw from your legs and toes compared to your arms.

The overall weight of the bow should be proportionate to your height and weight as well.

And it should be lightweight enough that you can perform your skills effectively with them.

Draw strength

Yes, I said you should opt for a toy bow and arrow in this chapter’s earlier section.

But do not avail items that are toys for toddlers or kids under the age of 12.

I emphasized the use of practice bows again.

Choose the ones that can handle high levels of pressure as you draw the strings.

And I will provide some of the best bows you can find around in the following sections.


In addition to the bow’s drawing capability, it’s also extremely important to note the durability of its overall frame.

And a less sturdy gear may lead to the item becoming very easy to break as your foot archery training progresses.

And since you’ll be using mostly practice bows at the beginning of your training, it may be hard to distinguish a sturdy bow from a frail one.

Fortunately, you don’t have to worry about any of that.

In the next section is a list of some of the best practice bows you can begin with.

Shot Accuracy

A common problem in foot archery is the accuracy of the shots.

And the reason for such is that because your drawing mechanism is high up, aiming with your peripheral vision will be extremely challenging and would require a lot of practice.

And to help you improve your shot accuracy, it’s important to look for a beginners’ archery set that is tough and not unsafe when you’re trying to make a shot.

Indoor or Outdoor

If you’re training indoors or within your home, I feel that it would be convenient to replace the tips with suction cups.

It sticks on your wall perfectly, and it’s in this way that we can easily measure our progress.

You can put back the regular tips that come along with the package when you resume training outdoors again.


The good thing about practice bows is that most of them are relatively cheap.

But again, this doesn’t mean that we disregard quality over affordability.

If you want to get better at foot archery, you have to look for quality.

As mentioned earlier, I prepared in the following section a list of the best beginners’ bow in the market you can use to improve your skills.

Let’s continue to the next segment and determine some of the top brands you can use.

Best Bows For Foot Archery Beginners

With important reminders are out of the way, the lists of the best practice bow that a contortion archer is in the following:

Procener Bow and Arrow Set for Archery Beginner

The bow is super lightweight, mainly because the designs especially suit children from ages 8 to 12.

However, this doesn’t mean that you can’t use them for your foot archery training.

In addition to the bow and arrow set, you’ll also receive two target faces and a set of arm guards (which I doubt would be useful to you).

Adventure Awaits! Handmade Wooden Bow and Arrow

If you care about the environment, you may want to consider the handcrafted bow offered by a company called Adventure Awaits!

The tips of the arrows are of rubber materials.

Therefore, they’re extremely safe and don’t possess potential threats of injury when you eventually them.

Although the description primarily mentions that they’re great for kids’ play, they’re also perfect during your foot archery training.

UTeCiA Archery Set for Kids and Beginners

Among the other bow and arrows sets in this list, UTeCiA offers the most extensive—aside from the primary gears, it also includes—

  • 14 pieces of target faces
  • An arrow holster
  • Two arm guards
  • Two-finger guards

This may be the case—I believe that you’ll only need the bow, plastic-tipped arrows, and target faces.

As for the bow, they are as durable and lightweight as they can be.

Indeed, they are perfect for beginners, and you can share them with your kids as well if you have one.

Dostyle Outdoor Youth Recurve Bow and Arrow Archery Training

It’s an excellent choice for kids ten years old and above and archery beginners.

In my opinion, they’re also excellent for foot archery and probably the best item listed in this article.

It’s is decently lightweight, which weighs only around 1 pound.

Also, it’s very durable thanks to its fiberglass material.

Overall, the DOSTYLE Outdoor Youth Recurve Bow and Arrow is a must-have for contortion archers.

KESHES Archery Recurve Bow – Beginners’ Bow

If you’re looking for an archery set with a wide array of colors to choose from, then you’re looking at the KESHES Archery Recurve Bow.

The design of the Recurve is especially suitable for beginners in general.

And it’s also perfect for kids and teens ages eight years old and above.

For the contortion archery artist, they’re also the perfect item to begin with.

If you’re aiming for safety and sustainability from your archer set, then you have to consider KESHES as one of your options.

A Word On Using Practice Bows in Foot Archery

Again, let me emphasize that the items mentioned in the previous section may seem to be suitable just for kids, but they’re also excellent for archery beginners.

So much more if they’re a newbie in contortion archery, the more they’d need a lightweight bow and arrow set to kickstart their training.

You can begin using professional sets as you develop your skillset.

But a lightweight bow, like a recurve bow, for example, is still highly recommended for foot archery.

Lastly, although they’re essentially a beginners’ archery set, never attempt to aim them at a person because it could still injure them in some other way.

Final Thoughts

At last, we reached the conclusion of this article, and I believe we covered enough grounds on the subject matter.

I hope my content provided you sufficient information about foot archery and how it works.

My buying guidelines and list of recommended beginners’ foot archery bow may also help you in your future purchases.

Again, let me emphasize never point your bow to a person or animal, although they’re basically a practice bow.

It could still potentially hurt or injure someone, especially if it hits the eye or mouth.

Well, I guess that’s just about it!

Thank you for the time and effort in reading my content!

That concludes on foot archery and how it works.

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