Horseback archery appeals for new riders

Theresa McCaffrey

Archery target.jpg

"Archery target". Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons.

Horseback archery, or mounted archery as it is sometimes known, is witnessing a real surge in interest at the minute.

It may be more Native American than cowboy, but there are many riders who are keen to revive and maintain this tradition and develop it into a modern sport.

Originally used for hunting and combat, it is now used as a hobby, with targets placed along a route and the rider required to aim and shoot the arrow while riding.

Safety is paramount and every precaution needs to be taken to ensure that both the horse and rider feel safe and enjoy themselves.

A stable in Lelant Downs, Cornwall, is currently inviting people to try their hand at some medieval pastimes, offering training in the sport of horseback archery.

Oisin Curtis, an instructor at Old Mill Stables and member of the GB horseback archery team, told the Cornishman that the activity is slowly making a comeback in the equestrian world and he is keen for the younger generation to get involved.

"It's just something that is completely different. If you like a bit of an adrenaline rush you won't get one similar to galloping down a track and hitting a target. It's quite addictive and great fun," he said.

Mr Curtis explained that horseback archery involves galloping down a 90-metre track without reins and shooting arrows at targets within a time limit.

He admitted that it is a hard skill to master and requires good upper body strength, however believes that it is a sport which anyone can try.

The instructor went on to say: "A lot of people said to me they didn't realise how fast it was. A lot of it is getting the right rhythm. As long as you can keep that you can hit targets. It's a good feeling of accomplishment, especially if you do hit the target."

It is important to choose a horse which is well-trained and not easily startled by loud noises, and also to receive full safety training before attempting horseback archery.