Horse archery has been gaining a lot of attention in the past few years. We’ve all seen movies in which someone fires an arrow while riding a horse. Whether they’re hunting or taking down enemies in a fantasy world, it looks impressive, nevertheless. But how difficult is it?
Even if you are familiar with archery, the draw techniques are different, as are the skills you need to aim and shoot while riding. You may discover that horse archery is much more complex than you anticipated, and you may fear that you will never be able to learn it. Don’t worry; this happens to a lot of beginner archers.
Even though Legolas makes it look easy, horse archery is a highly technical sport with a rich history. Below we’ll tell you exactly how difficult horse archery is and 5 things you should know before grabbing your quiver and bow and hopping on the back of a horse.
What is Horse Archery?
Horse archery is a high-energy sport that involves shooting arrows at a target while riding horseback. The sport combines speed and precision by requiring the archer to ride a horse at a gallop while shooting targets. A horse archer not only needs to be skilled in archery but also must have an understanding of horse riding and form a bond with the horse.
How Long Does It Take to Learn Mounted Archery?
Many horse archers are intimidated when they first begin practicing the sport. It just takes a long time to master the skill. How long it takes to learn horse archery is really going to depend on your starting point, level of dedication, and how far you want to go. Horse archers need to learn both horse riding and the proper techniques to use to shoot while riding.
Many people learn archery as a hobby or to implement it into hunting. Archery alone takes about 2 months to learn how to shoot correctly. As for horse riding, it generally takes around 2 years to gain the basic skills needed to ride on your own.
If you are interested in learning for competitive reasons, you can expect to be participating in the sport for at least three to four years until you are ready to enter competitions.
5 Things to Know About Horse Archery
Though they are similar, there are vast differences between traditional archery and horse archery. If you are interested in taking up the sport, there are several things you should know before getting started. Here are our top five things you should know about horse archery.
Compound Bows are Prohibited in Competition
Mounted archers almost always utilize classic recurved composite bows. This is because compound bows, as well as bows with an arrow rest, are expressly forbidden in mounted archery events.
Actually, what is the difference between a recurve bow and a compound bow?
When purchasing a bow, consider two things: draw length and draw weight. Draw length and draw weight are vital regardless of the type of bow you shoot since they influence the precision of your shot. Because you’ll be releasing arrows while riding on horseback, a shorter bow may be preferable for mobility and simplicity of holding. There are many different lengths of short bows, but for mounted archery, most bows are either 48′′ or 53′′.
Hip Quivers are Best for Fast Nocking
The most popular quivers seen in horseback archery competitions are the back quiver, belt quiver, and hip quiver. While some mounted archery competitions require you to utilize a quiver, others expect you to shoot with your bare hands. Regardless, you should practice shooting with a quiver when you first start out.
Because swift nocking is vital in mounted archery, you’ll want to select a quiver that allows you to draw an arrow quickly and efficiently. Hip quivers are an excellent choice for mounted archers since they allow you to draw an arrow faster than back quivers. This is because there is no extra motion required to reach back over the shoulder to draw an arrow.
Blind Nocking is a Must
One thing that is essential in horse archery is blind nocking. Horse archers don’t use an arrow rest or look down at their bow to nock an arrow on the string. Instead, mounted archers must rely on instinct and touch to successfully nock the arrow while riding a horse.
This technique takes a lot of practice, so you can get a feel of where that arrow goes and nock it with ease and precision while riding. Here is a great video that shows you exactly what blind nocking looks like.
You Must Learn to Be Comfortable on a Horse
It might seem silly to state it, but horse archery requires two hands—which means you will be riding hands-free on a galloping horse at some point. Because of this, horse archers must be comfortable riders.
You and your horse must learn to communicate using your legs and body with no hands. This is not only important for safety reasons in horseback riding but is also essential in the sport of mounted archery.
However, this isn’t a beginner technique. Gaining that level of comfort on a horse can take up to a couple of years and is usually the longest skill to master.
Horse Archery Has a Rich History
Mounted archery dates back to the ninth century BC in ancient Assyria. Mounted archers have since been shown throughout Eurasia. For millennia, the Parthians, Huns, Magyars, Turks, Mongols, and other countries employed mounted archery methods in combat. Today, it is an active sport in many countries, including Mongolia, South Korea, Australia, Hungary, and the United States.
Horse archery, like any sport, takes hard work and dedication to master. As the combination of two technical sports, there are several skills to learn, meaning many riders won’t be ready for competition until several years after picking up the sport. The good news is that horse archery has no time limit and can be learned at any age. Hopefully, the above list helps you on your journey to mastering this one-of-a-kind activity.