Archery is like life

I have found shooting a bow to be completely addictive… 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.

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“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.

 

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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.

In defence of Conor McGregor’s Ground Game

Diaz took the fight on short notice and by all accounts was holidaying in Cabo the week before he got the call to face McGregor.

One week on from UFC 196, Conor McGregor’s stock remains as high as ever. True, the keyboard warriors celebrated across the various social media platforms and conservative critics at home continued to voice their disgust at the perceived barbaric nature of the sport. Many media outlets even went as far as taking a clip from a UFC behind the scenes video showing McGregor’s family reacting to his loss. Tasteless, but that is what passes for journalism in a world where it’s hard to see what differentiates the likes of Joe.ie and the Irish Independent from the red top rags. Despite this, the MMA world has reacted rather positively to McGregor’s willingness to step up in weight and take a fight when the original championship bout fell through.

I listen to podcasts regularly, and this week I tuned in to Bruce Buffer’s It’s time, Chael Sonnenn’s You’re Welcome, The MMA Hour, Severe MMA Podcast, and The Fighter and the Kid. By and large the Irish man was praised by commentators, pundits and former fighters alike. Almost everyone spoke admirably of McGregor’s behavior in defeat. The general consensus, however, is that the way to beat McGregor is to get the fight on the mat and exploit his perceived weaknesses on the ground.

 

Pundits constantly reference the Chad Mendes fight where McGregor was taken down at will but prevailed by staying patient and pressing home his advantage on the feet. Much is made of Mendes having taken the fight on two weeks notice, and many have stated with certainty that Mendes would have won that fight had he been afforded the luxury of a full camp. Obviously, credit has to be given to the Team Alpha male fighter, and it has to be taken into account that he was not in shape for a championship bout. However, it also has to be noted (as Simon Samano of USAtoday.com neglected to do in his hatchet job of an article entitled “Conor McGregor isn’t a great UFC Fighter and never has been”) that McGregor prepared for that fight with a serious knee injury.

 

On The Church of What’s Happening Now comedian and host Joey Diaz slated McGregor’s ground game during a conversation with MMAJunkie’s George Garcia. The two reiterated what many have stated over, and over and over; that McGregor’s ground game is suspect and that Frankie Edgar must be chomping at the bit. I don’t know what fight they were watching, but here’s what actually happened in the first round: Diaz took McGregor down, ended up getting swept and the round came to a close with McGregor in a dominant position. Granted, when McGregor tried for a takedown in the second, Diaz stuffed it, attempted an unsuccessful guillotine before passing McGregor’s guard “like a knife through butter” as UFC color commentator Joe Rogan put it, and softening him up with punches before taking his back and strangling him. It must be noted, though, that McGregor was rocked on the feet and looked to be flailing and his ill-fated takedown attempt was essentially an act of desperation and a sign that he was mentally checking out.

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Indeed, it was on the Joe Rogan Experience podcast that the owner of 10th Planet Jiu Jitsu, Eddie Bravo, again reiterated that he had witnessed McGregor’s ground game in person and felt that the Dubliner was adequately skilled in the department.

 

All in all it was, as McGregor stated post fight, an inefficient performance.What is worrying is that McGregor seemed to break when things weren’t going his way. He may be justified in his belief that he would fare better were he to make some adjustments, but the other side of the coin is that Diaz took the fight on short notice and by all accounts was holidaying in Cabo the week before he got the call to face McGregor. It is a sad state of affairs that a highly popular veteran of several UFC fights and former title challenger has to take opportunities at short notice in order to get a big payday. The Stockton native at least has some leverage in future negotiations with the UFC and can look forward to some marquee fights against big names opponents.

 

One thing is for certain, Frankie Edgar should absolutely be next if McGregor returns to featherweight. I fully expect McGregor to end that fight prematurely with a hard left cross, but Edgar is as deserving of a title shot as anyone, including Jose Aldo.

Pádraig Martin @paidimartin