ABOUT HORSE ARCHERY
It all began in Mongolia during the Genghis Khan era. Once other countries and regimes began to understand the utility of horseback archers, it then spread throughout Asia, into Europe, and eventually into the Americas. In America, our heritage of horseback archery started with the Native American Indians. What could be more exciting than running your horse with the wind in your hair and drawing a silent yet strong bow and letting loose your arrow to the dead center of a target? Not only are you one with your horse but also the only sound you hear is the beating of your heart in tune with your horse’s hooves.
Today, in the US, there are a growing number of Mounted Archery Instructors. They are trying to make a go of getting horse lovers fired up into wanting to learn the ancient sport and compete throughout the country and the world.
In 2010, Bend, OR held the first International Mounted Archery Competition, thanks to Dr. Holm Neumann. The event was a great success and along with our own competitors, we had competitors from South Korea, United Kingdom, Germany, Japan, Poland, Canada and Mongolia and there were competitors from ages 14 thru 63.
There are different styles of events which lend their design from the cultures and practices of the regions they come from. Of which are the Korean’s single, double, and five shot courses, the Hungarian’s three-sided target, the Polish’s cross-country course, along with the Qabaq. The Qabaq is a unique event in which archers shoot at an 18-inch cymbal atop a 27-foot pole as they run by. Their FluFlu arrows are tipped with rubber blunts.
For the most part, archers shoot the traditional way of the Mongols with a thumb release. However, there are those who still favor the three-finger release. The bows are re-curves ranging from about 26 -35 lbs. for women and 35 – 45 lbs. for the men. The bows are horse bows and cannot have a shelf for the arrow to lay as it must rest on your hand. Quivers are mandatory for some venues and you may use a hip, side, or back quiver.
There is no special breed of horse that needs to carry you thundering down your target line and there is no gender preferred. The joy is the love of your horse being your partner and your bow. There are Quarter horses, Arabs, Fox Trotters, Mangalara Marchadors , and Mustangs among the horse breeds typically seen at events. Your horse is trained not to be afraid of the flying arrows or bow sounds and are ridden without reins. They are trained to keep an even speed as you must stay at a lope or gallop while shooting. All scores are a combination of accuracy points and speed. When competing against other countries, we use the host’s horses and likewise when we host an event, we supply the horses for our guests. Which leads to the understanding that most of us share our horses with our guests.
Costumes are a plus for our competitions, from Amazons, warriors and even themed competitions like Steam Punk & Mad Max, Zombie and Wild West, the costumes are awesome and bring a flare to each competition.
In 2016 the DWSW held their first International competition in Scottsdale, AZ. We had 8 countries participate and some of the top horse archers in the world. This year in 2018 we will be holding the first National Competition in the Southwest. It will be the largest horse archery competition ever held in the US in November.