Mounted Archery! Who knew?!

TBL Readers!

This month I want to tell you about the practice of  Horse Archery! Yes, you read that right Horse Archery! When I came across it, it totally took me by surprise! Like Vaulting…I personally wasn’t aware we had this activity actively practiced in the bay area! 

The discipline itself is not new. Horse Archery is thousands of years old. Going back to a time when survival depended on one’s skill with a composite recurve bow on horseback. If you remember your studies in history class, you will remember that here North America, the Native Americans used their expert bareback riding techniques and archery skills to hunt. Along with nomad tribes like Ghengis Khan in Central Asia. Even In feudal Japan, the samurai were noted for their cavalrymen, and were excellent swordsman and bowman.

 Photo by Sue Winslow

Photo by Sue Winslow

Moving forward to 2016 it’s now called "Mounted Archery" and It has been revived and is on the rise. Practiced within Europe, Asia, Africa and America, with organized clubs forming and the sport burgeoning in popularity.

There are a few different variations in mounted archery and in each variation, there are levels of difficulty.  The main 3 are Koren style, Hungarian style and Qabak.

 Korean type: (most popular)

In Korean archery all arrows must be stowed somewhere on the archer or on the horse. And the course events are listed as follows.

Single Shot: A one target run on a 120 meter course.  You are timed from the starting line to the finish line. The target is placed at the 90 meter mark. You have 15 seconds to finish the course, and are deducted 1 point for every second you go over the time limit.

Fast Shoot: (Double Shot): A two target run on a 120 meter course, and you are timed from the starting line to the finish line. The first target is placed 60 meters from the starting point, and is angled towards the start, making it a forward shot target. The Second target is placed about 25 meters after the first, and is angled away from the starting point, making it a back shot. You have 15 seconds to finish the course, and are deducted 1 point for every second you go over the time limit. If you hit both targets you are awarded a 3 point bonus.

Serial Shot: A 5 target run on a 160 meter course. The first target is placed 30 meters from the starting point, and every target after is placed at 30 meter intervals. All targets are side shots. You have 20 seconds to finish the course, and are deducted 1 point for every second you go over the time limit. If you hit all five targets, you are awarded a 5 point bonus. If you do not hit at least 3 targets, you are disqualified from that run.

Mogu: One person pulls a Mogu ball (a wicker/bamboo ball frame about 60cm in diameter, covered in a sturdy cloth sack, on a rope about 30 meters long) on horseback, while another person follows and shoots blunted arrows (usually 2 arrows) to hit the ball.

Hungarian type:

This Style allows for the archer to take the arrows from the bow hand. A quiver is often used and is typically on the right of one’s thigh, but it may also be through a belt, a sash, a saddle quiver.  The European Style course is a 90 meter run divided by four posts in 30 meter segments. There are three central targets at the 45 meter mark, and they are placed 7 meters away from the inside course rope on the left hand side. The three targets are faced in three different directions creating forward, side, and back shots. Competitors are allowed to shoot as many arrows as possible. The course must be completed in at least 16 seconds, or no score will be recorded.

Qabak type:

The Qabak is a very old and traditional horseback archery practice that was developed during the Ottoman Empire. A “qabak” itself is actually a vegetable and was used like many other objects as targets. The events consist of  “puta” shooting, and or “darb” (piercing) horseback shooting. “Puta” shooting is shooting arrows into specific leather targets called again called “puta”, from 165 to 250 m distance. 

“Darb” or (piercing) is based on piercing hard objects. The target is put on the top of a tall column that the archer approaches at full speed. When passing the column, the archer then turns back to shoot the target.

 Photo by Sue Winslow

Photo by Sue Winslow

So now that we know what it is …How does one start? Well, I would begin by checking out the website of The Mounted Archery Association of the Americas. They have all the information you will need to get started. This unfortunately is not a beginner sport and requires a solid foundation in horse riding. The archery portion; however, can be learned and there are a few groups that practice regularly on the ground.  You will need a bow a sound horse (no breed specifications) and of course a helmet! In the San Francisco Bay Area check out Bay Area Mounted Archery on Meet-up!


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