Horseback Archery

Horseback archery is a small, but growing, archery discipline in the UK. The organising body for the sport in this country is the British Horseback Archery Association, They organise training events and a grading system, postal matches for novice horseback archers and a yearly national competition for those at the top of the sport in the UK. They also field a team at international competitions such as the European championships.

Internationally the sport is governed by the World Horseback Archery Federation with a world championship held in South Korea each year. The International Horseback Archery Alliance also offer a system of qualifications and run international postal matches which anyone who is a member of their country's representative organisation (the BHAA in the UK) can enter.

Horseback archers use a horsebow - a short, barebow, shot off the hand much like a longbow. No arrow shelf, sights or stabilisers are allowed.

Although archers start off learning on a walking horse (it's a good idea to have some riding lessons first!), at competition level the archers are cantering or galloping down the archery run, shooting on the move. Most runs are around 90 metres long and depending on the event, you have between 14 and 18 seconds to release your arrows at between 1 and 5 targets, depending on the event. For example the Korean 123 consists of two runs with one target, two runs with two targets and two runs with three targets, with an allowed time of 14 seconds per run. Speed points count towards the score (and points are deducted for each second over the allowed time). Many of the top horseback archers will complete the run in about 10 seconds.

There are currently a few regional clubs who organise regular practice sessions and a couple of places who cater for those who are just interested in a taster day to try out the sport. See the BHAA website for details.

Article written by Nicola West of Tyndale Archers.

A search on YouTube includes the two short films shown below. Not sure about the health and safety aspects of the Japanese version though!