Two Horse Tack is proud to announce a partnership with Horse Archery USA, an organization designed to promote the sport of horse archery. In the coming weeks, we’ll offer Horse Archery’s members special deals on our tack, which we feel will be a great fit for a sport that’s rough ‘n’ tumble — just like our products.
Never heard of horse archery? Kim Butler, president of Horse Archery USA, agreed to answer a few of our questions about the sport.
You actually don’t need any riding or archery experience to get started! However, it is definitely easier if you have some sort of horseback riding background. It’s much easier to teach ARCHERY to a horseback rider, than to teach HORSEBACK RIDING to an archer or inexperienced beginner. Horseback riding is a skill that takes more time to teach, as there are so many different factors to consider: the unpredictability of the horse (it’s a 1,500 lb animal that has a mind of its own) the rider’s balance, safety, styles of riding, etc. Not to downplay archery at all, but you can pretty much get the basics down in a couple of classes and build on your technique from there!
It really depends on who you talk to! There’s always breeds that people tend to lean towards for different disciplines – such as Warmbloods and Thoroughbreds for hunter/jumper, Quarter Horses for Western pleasure or ranch work, Arabians for endurance, etc. Many people will suggest purchasing a horse that has certain personality traits that are conducive to mounted archery, such as endurance, a level head, the ability to work off leg and voice commands/reinless riding, brave attitude (not afraid of the bow), and able to canter at a steady pace down the track or around the field several times. However, I’m finding that people in our region (Southeastern US) are like myself, and prefer to embark on this mounted archery adventure with their OWN horse. I personally have a Clydesdale/Gypsy Vanner cross gelding that I’ve exposed to everything from competitive trail riding, English/Western styles of riding, driving, and now mounted archery! He’s still a bit of a chicken when it comes to new things, but he’s coming along nicely! There’s nothing more rewarding than learning a new sport with your own equine partner.
As far as training goes, there are so many different options! That’s one of the things that really attracted me to archery in general – you can pretty much practice anywhere, with just about ANYTHING (so long as safety is a first priority). I, for one, practice in my back yard or pasture with hay bales, soccer balls, extra large stuffed animals… haha! The gals up in Pennsylvania use a four-wheeler to simulate moving while hitting a target, and I’ve even seen people jumping on trampolines while practicing, running around the target, and my mentor out in Texas suggests rolling old soccer balls and shooting to simulate the moving target! I’ve been told that “what works on the ground will not always work on the horse, but what works on horseback will usually always work on the ground.” One of the things that I’ve had to learn is to aim lower than you really think you need to – when you’re aboard a horse, most of the targets are going to be lower to the ground than you are, where as if you’re on the ground, the targets are usually right at eye level.
It’s really hard to say – if you go by the membership numbers, there’s 100-300 horse archers in the USA. However, if you count the people that are ACTIVE in the sport, there’s probably only around 100-150. More people are being exposed to horse archery every day though, especially now that we have certified instructors traveling to teach clinics across the country! Horse Archery Fever is surely becoming a widespread high-adrenaline extreme sport!
I actually came across this sport in an unlikely fashion: I saw a Facebook Ad (yes, all you social media marketers – Facebook Ads DO work!) for a Horseback Archery Beginner’s Clinic and thought it sounded pretty extreme… but awesome! I didn’t even know the sport actually existed, I thought it archery on horseback was only something you saw in movies and read about in the history books. I had an absolute blast learning archery for the first time, I had never picked up a bow before and we spent 2 hours just going over the basics of archery, safety on the range, and how to alter the basics to work when actually on the horse. I must say that I learned more about physics and arrow dynamics than I thought possible!