In Which I Reveal A Sheeecret

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It is a truth universally acknowledged… -all right, maybe not, but everybody who knows me, knows that I’m in love with my bow. I adore the sheer sensuality of feeling the living wood in my hands. The other week I got to “meet” the piece of ash which might become my new longbow in time, and I fell in love with that, too. Almost makes me feel like I’m cheating on my current bow, haha! Maybe I’m polyamorous when it comes to bows?

I went to practise at our club’s range in Massbrook Woods today and while I got in a few really good hits, I still lack consistency. I’m working on that! Last year was about being a beginner and getting into the swing of things, this year will be about improving and gaining new experiences, and that includes new field archery courses. I’ve resolved to take part in at least two 3D shoots at other Irish clubs this year, and I’ve also been planning something outrageously adventurous and frankly, rather ridiculous, which I’ve been hinting at on Facebook but never really revealed, and that’s…

… I’ll travel to Canada for a few days in July and among other things, I’ll take part in a 3D shoot there, too!

There are several reasons why this is such monumental news, the most important of which is that ever since my mum’s stroke and then death in 2009/2010, I haven’t been on a proper holiday, other than visiting lovely friends in Athens for a long weekend in 2012 and a weekend in London – literally one night – last year. So this will be the first purely for shits ‘n’ giggles holiday in eight years, and I’m almost painfully excited in anticipation.

Of course, this means that I’ll have to practise and expand. On Sunday I started exploring other ranges by finally shooting with Sandy and Ali and some others around their house in Clare (this is where the title pic was taken).

Today in Massbrook was the first time in months that the sunshine on my large hagish nose actually felt warm, or at least mild. Spring is definitely on its way! If you’d like to see more of Massbrook, I took two short videos this winter – here’s the first one:

 

And the second:

 

I’m happy to report that my shoulder didn’t hurt at all today! This is particularly brilliant because I did the entire course, all 25 pegs with 1-3 targets each. I’ve been very careful to remember basics such as warming up and stretching before and after shooting. This is part of a newly discovered approach which might make a little sense of my recent forearm tendonitis.

I never wrote about it a lot; suffice it to say that it’s been awful. I’d wanted to do HEMA for years and then finally started in April last year, which made me beyond happy. There are few things which feel better than swinging a sword (two, in fact: traditional archery and dancing), and to have that taken away again, and through my own fault for messing it up… it was very hard for me to deal with. At the same time, I always felt there had to be some lesson in there. In part it is definitely an “Upper Limit” problem (if you don’t know what that is, read Gay Hendricks’s The Big Leap. It’s in my top three non-fictional books of all time).

More recently, I realised that a contributing factor was me overdoing it – a classic case of “too much, too soon” – after the years of inertia and bad health gone before. I’m naturally the most impatient person in the world, but now I’m learning to  v-e-r-y  s-l-o-w-l-y  build up my muscles, and stop immediately when it starts hurting again. My plan is to eventually start with the beginner basics again and look mostly at technique, really learn correct technique, and listen to my body every step of the way. So what if it takes me five years to get halfway decent at swordfighting? I’m not in this to win tournaments, I’m in it for the sheer wild bliss of it.

There’s a rather unhealthy approach to physical fitness in our world. One could sum it up as: “Pain is good! Keep pushing!” It’s kinda the ideal, and looked at with admiration, to ruin one’s body and health in the process. Just look at pro athletes, and that goes from ballerinas who completely fuck up their feet, to footballers whose knees go out of service at the age of 40. The weekend before last, I got to talk to the brilliant Keith Farrell, who was teaching a longsword master class at an event organised by my club. Keith is still in his 20s but told me he trains with a view to still being able to do these things decades from now. I had a bit of an aha-moment there when I realised that this is exactly what I want to do!

Some might argue that my tendonitis has to do with my age, but I call BS. I’m fairly certain that I would have run into the same problems if I were 27 instead of 47, if I’d overdone it after being unhealthy and out of shape for years. A friend of mine, Jack, has had problems with his knees for over a year now, from a slight mistake in his footwork, and he’s nearly 15 years younger than I am. It’s lazy to blame it on age, when really it’s the fundamental, underlying approach that’s wrong.

And there, right there, is my lesson from the injury. Upper Limit – which is basically sabotaging oneself from an erroneous belief that life can’t get “too good” – and an unhealthy approach to getting back into shape. Wow. Maybe I should be grateful that I got the injury heads-up early on, when I’m still able to correct my approach and become more aware. Because I, too, intend to dance, shoot, and do swordfighting for many years to come.

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