Horseback Archery making revival
Have you ever dreamed of galloping across the Great Plains on a painted pony? Or imagined the Mongol horde sweeping across the steppe? Whether or not you’ve imagined such things, you should include, in your mind’s eye, a vision of the rider carrying a bow and arrow.
All horse cultures developed some form of mounted archery. Now the martial art of horseback archery has been revived and is spreading as fast as the Magyars across ancient Europe. Throughout Asia, Malaysia, Australia, across Europe, Turkey, Iran and Jordan, all the way to South Africa and the Americas mounted archery is thriving and growing in popularity. Along with this new popularity comes a myriad of methods and techniques. Horse bows are short to allow flexibility around a moving horse. Poundage is a personal choice. For sticking targets the lighter the better. Equipment and courses vary across the globe. For us horse lovers, this activity isn’t breed specific. You need a sure footed, trustworthy mount adequately desensitized to the sound and feel of archery, targets and spectators. Then drop the reins, ride by the seat of your pants and let zen guide your shots. There is nothing like it.
Mounted Archery Competition
A Company Mounted Archery, in New Braunfels, Texas hosted people from across the world for the Red Neck Horde USA Mounted Archery competition in Seguin, Texas, February 24-26, 2012. 20 competitors from Washington, Oregon, California, Arizona, Indiana, Florida and Texas communed with 8 champions from Hungary, Germany, Canada and Brazil. Contestants ranged in age from 11 years old to our two senior masters at 74 and 76. Prior to competition, were four days of clinics.
Horseback Archery Academy
As a fifty six year old beginner, I jumped at the chance to take a clinic with the Nemethy Brothers of the Horseback Archery Academy in Hungary. The Némethy Family have been pursuing equestrian sports for almost a century. Bertalan Némethy dedicated his life to show-jumping from the beginning of the 20th century until his death. Zoltán Némethy, Marc Némethy and Christoph Némethy (Christoph -3 time EOCHA champion) are the members of the present generation, imparting their knowledge to succeeding generations. Marc and Christoph brought two of their star students to teach at the clinics and compete. Together these four young Hungarians provided hours upon hours of comprehensive instruction with poise, patience, and their passion for mounted archery.
Training starts on the ground with a warm up, introduction to equipment and the option of thumb release or Mediterranean/fingers. Then the horses. In most mounted archery competitions, horses are shared as most of us don’t have the time or money to transport our equine partners, especially internationally. Our horses’ care, comfort and needs are paramount. This is a unifying component; we all work as a team to support our four legged partners, even though we compete from the saddle.
Globally there are many types or courses and numerous ways of scoring. We had five courses in three days:
Fri., Feb. 24 First course, Gambler’s Choice ; 150 meters, 25 second par; 8 targets at various distances, different points (We had hay targets, 3-D deer, stuffed scarecrow). Second course, Hun; 90 meters, 16 second par; 3 targets arranged 30 meters apart; forward shot, side shot, and back shot (parting shot).
Sat., Feb 25, First course, Texas Multi; 150 meter, 25 second par; 5 targets at 7 meters, 9 meters, 7 meters, 15 meters, and 6 meters. A real challenge adjusting the speed of the horse and the arrows flight. Second course, American Arena, 61 meters, 10 second par, front and back shots, unlike other contests, every arrow counts, so a miss is points lost.
Sun., Feb 26, Quabak – a 25 ft. pole with a target on top (we used a pizza pan), 90 meter course with 16 second par. However, you can only shoot within about 6 meters at the base of the pole.
Horseback archery open to all
Whether an intense competitor with Olympic aspirations or a rider looking for a challenging activity for the whole family this should enhance the relationship with your horse. “There is a place for everyone in horseback archery. The sport lends itself to a willing and free spirit that resonates in the hearts of the archers and their trusted mounts,” says Roberta Beene, Rogue Mounted Archers. You will meet some new lifelong friends along the way.
This is a guest post by Annibella Beggs.
Top two photos of women on horseback courtesy of A Company Mounted Archery Facebook page. Remaining photos provided by Annibella Beggs. For more information and pictures regarding the sport of Mounted Archery, please visit the links below.
amazon.com/Mounted-Archery-Americas-David-Gray/dp/159048262X (many of the participants at this event are contributing authors to this book)