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Symmetry, Archery and Arnold

The best archers in the USA were there, capable of hitting a bull?s eye the size of a half-dollar at 60 feet.

Having just recently returned from a very busy Arnold Classic in Columbus, Ohio, I’m just starting to let the events of the weekend sink in. Jim Lorimer, Arnold’s partner in producing the event since its inception, called me months before with the news that archery would be included in ’05. Since Arnold and I frequently shot our bows together in the ’70s, he suggested a challenge match between us. ‘Wow,’ I thought, ‘a chance to beat Arnold for the second time.’

Truth is, I hadn’t practiced archery much in the past 20 years. I shot so much in the first 35 years of my life that I sustained a lateral curvature of the spine and an occasional sore neck. The final straw was an injury to my left-front deltoid that occurred in my training two weeks before the ’79 Mr. Olympia. I was doing a set of alternate curls with 75-pound dumbbells secured to my hands with lifting straps when I felt a sharp pain in my shoulder. Pain medication enabled me to continue training and win that year but at the expense of my shoulder.

Right-handed archers hold the bow in the left hand and pull the string back with the right hand. I’d done tens of thousands of repetitions that way, resulting in a well-developed left triceps and rear deltoid and slightly more peak to my right biceps. The shoulder injury to my bow arm made it impossible to shoot right-handed. After a few sessions I gave up and considered calling Lorimer and telling him I couldn’t shoot this year. Arnold, though, had also had shoulder surgery, and as a busy California governor he probably wasn’t practicing.

The solution was to learn to shoot left-handed. With only three weeks before the event in Columbus, I purchased a 20-pound-pull left-handed recurve bow and began to practice. I now held the bow with my right hand and pulled the string with my left hand and had to remember to close my right eye (not my left) to aim correctly. My right triceps and rear delt (which were always a bit less developed than my left side) got pumped after each practice session. And as my form improved, I began to get tighter groups of arrows, with all shots hitting within a 12-inch diameter circle at 60 feet.

I learned that I had to pace my practice sessions so my shoulders wouldn’t get too sore. My left-front deltoid was still involved in shooting left-handed, but at least I didn’t have to hold the bow steady with that arm. A week before I left for Columbus, I trained my upper body and then shot archery. The next day my left shoulder was very sore. I treated it with ultrasound, DMSO and ice, and after three days’ rest I shot a round of arrows. Everything was okay, with just a little soreness remaining. I was all set.

I had four days of rest before the Arnold challenge match’good news for my shoulder. Sunday morning I arrived at the archery area, bow and arrows in hand to take on Arnold at the agreed-upon time of 11 a.m. As it turned out, Arnold had been there an hour earlier, and his shoulder hurt when he was pulling back one of the bows. Then he was off spreading goodwill. A friend of mine who attended his seminar an hour earlier on Sunday morning told me he was asked how he felt about shooting against me that morning, to which Arnold replied, ‘I’d be crazy to shoot against Zane; archery is his specialty.’

I wish I’d been at the seminar. I was looking forward to shooting with Arnold: We had such fun in the past. Not that I’m any threat at archery these days. The best archers in the USA were there, capable of hitting a bull’s eye the size of a half-dollar at 60 feet. They stopped the competition and set up a special target for me, and I shot a few arrows. The last one went right in the center, so I stopped.

My interest in archery has been renewed thanks to Arnold, and I’m planning on shooting in the main competition next year. It will also give me an opportunity to improve my symmetry by developing my right triceps and rear deltoid more. IM

Editor’s note: You can visit for information about Frank’s Building the Body Magazine, featuring detailed coverage of this year’s Arnold Classic.

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