“You know what sucks about shooting your bow? … Nothing!” Cam Hanes
Today I shot my bow. I am new to archery. My third day loosing arrows, I am the definition of a novice. I love it.
I purchased my first bow almost a month ago; a modern recurve with a wooden riser – nothing special but ideal for a beginner. I have spent the best part of a day shooting every weekend for the last three weeks. I would love to practice more often, but work and a busy schedule coupled with the fact that I don’t have adequate space to shoot mean that I have to travel to the countryside and set up a straw target on a friends land at weekends.
When learning about my new pastime most people’s first reaction is to ask how or what got me into archery? Quite simply, it was The Joe Rogan Experience podcast. I first started listening to Joe about five or six years ago. I regularly had my mind blown by the various guests he had on his show. The podcast has grown massively in popularity in the interim and can take credit for popularizing a number of other podcasts due to the hosts of those shows appearing on the JRE. Some, such as Cameron Hanes, have even started their own podcasts as a direct result of Rogan’s influence.
It was Hanes’ regular appearances on the podcast that were the determining influence on my foray into archery. Though I have to give credit to the brilliant Steven Rinella for changing my perception on hunters in general, it was Cam Hanes’ approach to hunting that really caught my attention. Here was a guy who lifted weights, ran for miles in the mountains and shot his bow everyday whilst holding down a regular job. His main reason for taking on such a rigorous schedule is to ensure he will be a better hunter. His message is one of positivity, though he takes things to such a different level that no matter what you’ve accomplished in your day; watching a random Cam Hanes video on Youtube will likely make you feel like you need to do more.
I have found shooting a bow to be completely addictive. The night after practice I spend hours watching episodes of Nock On TV with John Dudley, listening to podcasts like Gritty Bowmen and Keep Hammering and reading up on archery techniques, competitions and history. I think about it when I am driving or while I am on a break at work. I have no sooner packed away my bow after hours of shooting when I start counting down the hours to my next day of bliss in the field.
Comedian and recent convert to archery Duncan Trussell made an insightful observation on the similarities between archery and life. In essence, Trussell’s point was that your ego makes you shoot your bow the exact same way over and over again even though you are missing the target. In the same way a person follows their instincts when logic and outside information is telling them that the decision they are making is the wrong one, the archer is in a constant struggle to resist the temptation to blame the bow or the weather for a bad shot rather than facing up to the prospect that they are doing something wrong.
It is an art that is undoubtedly a useful tool for developing character. It is a discipline that demands 100% devotion to the fundamentals. There is no room for complacency or shortcuts. Attention to the task at hand must be total and absolute. In that moment before you release an arrow on its mystical flight there is no room in your head for other thoughts – mortgages, car loans and work – they do not exist.
Archery is simple, straightforward – even basic, yet at the same time it is complex, tricky and mult-layered. I don’t know where it will take me. I would like to compete in a competition someday, barebow and field archery have a certain appeal. I would love to hunt but it is illegal to hunt with a bow where I am from. In any case, be it a target in competition or a rabbit in a forest, I will not take a shot until I am confident that my arrow will find its mark. I am exited for the journey ahead and I am committed to becoming the best bowman I can be even with the current limitations on my practice. I feel that getting better at archery will stand to me as a writer, father and partner just as it will stand to me in life. To quote Miyamoto Musashi: “If you know the way broadly you will see it in everything”. Excellence in anything increases your potential in everything.