On a brisk Sunday morning, the fourteenth of April 2024, a quaint assembly was marked by the biannual archery competition hosted by the Mayo Archery Club, familiarly known as MAC. This notable event, named the 50x3D, heralded archers from every corner of Ireland, drawn not only by the competition but also by the rich medley of camaraderie and tradition that the event stitches year upon year. This particular visit was graced by the presence of my young son, Jan, whose five-year-old enthusiasm added a fresh lens to my seasoned spectacles.

  • The Venue: A Verdant Theatre at Nephin’s Feet

The grounds of MAC, embedded in the lush, verdant folds at the base of the imposing Mount Nephin, offered more than just a backdrop for the event; they provided a dramatic canvas painted with the hues of nature’s best. Our journey there was as much a pilgrimage as it was a travelogue, arriving to the hearty welcomes of Hary and James Moloney , the latter playing the role of our generous host.

  • The Welcome: Warmth Amidst the Chill

Upon arrival and after the swift, seamless act of registration—facilitated by the ever-smiling club members—Jan and I were treated to a cornucopia of freshly-baked goods, courtesy of Anthony McDermot. These treats were a sweet balm against the morning’s chill. The weather itself could not decide on a temper, showering us intermittently with gusts of icy wind, rain, and hail. Yet, such was the spirit of the place that even the youngest of attendees found joy amid the tempest.

  • The Challenge: A Dance of Distance and Precision

The day’s course was a masterclass in archery challenges, featuring 50 3D targets arrayed in cunning configurations designed to test both novices and seasoned archers alike. The targets varied not only in distance but in their placement—requiring a keen eye and a steadier hand, simulating the unpredictability of life’s own trials. Each arrow nocked was a lesson in focus and patience, as all participants vied to best not just each other but themselves.

  • The Young Archer: Lessons in Joy and Resilience

For Jan, the meet was a fantastical excursion into a realm peppered with heroes wielding bows. The weather’s fickleness became mere background noise to his adventures, as he navigated through the day with a buoyant spirit that only children possess. His joy in simple pleasures—a well-aimed shot, a new friendship, or a particularly tasty treat—reminded all present of the pure love of sport and community.

  • Companionship and Competition: A Balancing Act

The event was as much about the arrows and the targets as it was about the people. I had the good fortune to shoot alongside Mart and Marika, a duo of archers whose skill was matched only by their kindness. Their gentle camaraderie with Jan was a highlight of the day, offering lessons in sportsmanship and friendship that transcended the mere competition.

  • Gratitude: A Heartfelt Thanks

As the shadows lengthened and the day drew to a close, my heart was full of gratitude for the experiences shared. Special thanks to James and the entire MAC team, whose efforts behind the scenes made each moment seamless and enjoyable. The club’s ethos of welcoming everyone, from the greenest novice to the most grizzled veteran, creates a unique atmosphere that is both nurturing and challenging.

  • Reflections on a Day Well-Spent

Leaving the MAC grounds, the echoes of laughter mingling with the whisper of arrows lingered around us. Jan’s tired but happy face was a clear sign of a day well-spent. His sleepy musings on the ride home about returning in October for the next meet were interspersed with recollections of the day’s trials and triumphs.

  • A Call to Bows: The Next Chapter

Looking ahead, the next assembly in October promises to be another chapter in this grand saga of archery. For those who have yet to experience the joy and challenge of a MAC event, mark your calendars. Here lies not just competition, but a celebration of the archer’s spirit, the camaraderie of the green, and the shared pursuit of excellence.

Each participant, regardless of their score, left the field richer for the experience. The lessons of the day, written not on parchment but in the heart of each archer, spoke of resilience, joy, and the unbreakable bonds formed when people come together in the pursuit of their passions. The Mayo Archery Club continues to be a beacon for all who seek to test their mettle against the ancient and noble art of archery, all within the embrace of a community that values each arrow shot in earnest.

As we await the next meet, let us carry forward the spirit of this event: to strive, to seek, and not to yield, as we draw our bows and aim for targets unseen. This is not merely an invitation to an event; it is a call to be part of a legacy.