So, quivers for horseback archery. People seem to be asking me about this a lot recently so I thought I’d try to get some information all in one place.
First off, they are somewhat difficult to find, at least in the UK. Standard archery quivers tend not to be a good idea, largely because they’ve been designed for an archer standing still on the ground and we really don’t do much of that. So you don’t want something that’s going to flap about too much as you gallop up the track, and you don’t want your arrows rattling around inside it or coming out all at once when you grab for one of them.
You can get quivers designed for field archery or bow hunting, they tend to have a better design for holding arrows immobile, and some of the traditional bow shops such as Alibow also sell quivers suitable for mounted archers. BowTack quivers have an extensive range, but they are in the US. There are a few other people around the world who make some beautiful quivers, Etsy is the place to look for some of these. This is mine which I had custom made by Knavish Designs in Australia, so the postage was considerable, but it was worth it. It has loops for 6 arrows, plus a pocket on the front for a few more. It attaches to a belt, sits on the right hip of a right handed archer (so on the opposite side from the bow hand) and has a strap to fasten it around the thigh to keep it in place.
Another style of quiver to be worn on the hip is this one, made for us by a friend of ours more usually to be found making western tack, Sinjun Mae Leathercraft, it is longer so you have less of the arrow shaft sticking out the top and has room for about 12 arrows, held secure by the looped leather strip inserted into the top.
We have also experimented with making our own quivers. This style is designed to be worn on the same side as the bow hand, with arrows angled forwards rather than back, so needs to be long enough to avoid having too much of the arrow sticking out and getting in the way. I made this by folding a piece of leather in half, stitching it down one side and across the bottom, then making an insert with a folded strip of leather to hold the arrows in place. I’ve also seen the top done with bits of knotted leather thong, as shown in the second two photos below, a quiver made by Dan of the South Downs Horse Archers, a design shamelessly copied by us. Fairly simple to do (but hard on the fingers if you’re not used to sewing leather!), then you simply attach it to a ready-made belt.
But be warned, some horses don’t like the end of these flapping about (even with a piece of leather thong securing the bottom corner to the belt for a bit more stability) as they need to be worn higher round the waist and are not therefore attached to the rider’s thigh.
The final style that I have seen is a back quiver. Legolas and Katniss et al seem to favour these on screen. But for horseback archery of course, the main consideration is that of safety. If you use a regular back quiver and you take a tumble, you risk your arrows falling out over your shoulder and that could be unpleasant if you happen to land on them. So the way to work this is again individual slots for each arrow to keep them in place, and the bottom half of the quiver keeps the points from stabbing you in the back.
Of course if you’re still hopelessly confused by the choice of styles and don’t know where to start, you can simply try shoving your arrows through a belt or sash (taking care where the points are in relation to yourself and the horse) to start with and see how you get on. Some archers prefer this approach to using a quiver at all.
And the BHAA is working on a prototype quiver design so hopefully soon you’ll be able to buy one on their website. Watch this space!
Finally, a selection of quiver photographs taken at various archery competitions, some of which seem to be home made according to an archer’s preference. And yes, one of them is stuffed with hay to keep the arrows still!