Tag Archives: mounted archery

Young Archers Training Camp 2017

Last week saw us back on the road to the Domaine de Gauchoux near Limoges in France, for the second edition of the training camp for young archers where we had such fun  last year.

This year, CMA was represented by Aliénor again, as well as her sister Éowyn, and Alex Austin, who was hoping to gain her Club Coach qualification by the end of the week. After a long drive down through France on Thursday, we awoke on Friday morning to gorgeous sunshine.

The morning’s session was unmounted, with the kids rotating between different activities and coaches. We we joined by the brilliant Emil Eriksson again, as well as French and British coaches .

In the afternoon, the ponies arrived and again in groups they worked on skills for the Hungarian track. Ali was very happy to be riding Nadjie again…..

Saturday kicked off with a warm up session with Fred Luneau, involving lots of running, jumping and shouting. Then it was off to the sand school for practise on the Mamluk track and the qabaq.

Unfortunately the Qabaq training was cut short when we had to dismantle the pole as one of the arrows got stuck in the top!

On Sunday, all this training was put to the test when everyone took part in the current  IHAA postal match (Hungarian and Mamluk)

Then on Monday we got to see how the French competitions work, with the students competing at the Club 1 Korean and Hungarian events and Éowyn got to compete in the Club 3 event, 3 runs at the walk and a final one at a faster pace. She wanted this to be a mere trot, but the pony had other ideas!

Ali and Alex shot well enough to get Student 4 scores in the Korean and Éowyn came second in her competition, so all pleased with that.

Tuesday saw us on the hunt track with 3D targets, which not all the horses were too keen on. Even Éowyn got in on the action….

Then in the afternoon, all that was left was for Alex to do the final bit of testing on her Club Coach logbook, which she passed.

As well as all the archery action, we had the usual excellent catering and accommodation in yurts, and some pleasant evenings chatting and drinking. The kids all got on really well, and Éowyn struck up a friendship with Isabel, a Swedish archer who can give the adults a run for their money (despite only being a year or two older than Éowyn). So now our youngest member has a role model to emulate!


So a fabulous week, we all learnt a lot and made some new friends. Here’s to the next one 🙂 Finally, some video to give you more of a flavour of the event:


All a-quiver

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!


Our members – Vincent

Hello, my name is Vincent and my horseback archery didn’t start with any equine activities at all, in fact I started with my local archery club back in 2014, shooting target in the most part. I then found field shooting of interest as it had an instinctive element to it, and broke routine. It was much later after many offers of going to try riding from a family member I decided to go , and I wished I had of done it sooner. Shortly after a member within the mounted archers (Nicola), who is also a target archer, suggested that I give mounted archery a try after expressing a lot of interest.

I have had an amazing time so far! I am aiming to study for club horseback archer this year, and also would like to be able to pass archery knowledge onto others in the future. I’ve had a lot of help from some pretty amazing members, with a lot of my shortfalls in knowledge, and know none of it would be possible without them. Live, experience and learn!


Our members – Nicola


I’m Nicola and I’ve not been doing this very long! I took up target archery in May, and Horseback Archery in July 2016. After lots of practice sessions with the Cotteswold Mounted Archers I went with some of our other members to the Nationals, in September. After passing my Club Horseback Archer qualification, as a disabled rider I was eligible to compete in the walk classes – which to my surprise I went on to win! This gave me a taste for more, and my goal for 2017 is to compete in canter classes against able-bodied riders. I’m studying for my Intermediate Horseback Archer qualification and plan to become a club coach next.


Back to Beaumont

A couple of days before Christmas we were back at the Centre Equestre du Pays Beaumontois in south west France for another day’s coaching. A couple of friends who live near there brought their horses along for a look at what it’s all about.

And another couple of friends had a go at mounted archery for the first time

In the afternoon we had fun and games with the kids, they tried arrow pick ups and shooting at balls balanced on cones, some of them were very good at it!

Roll on the summer, when we can go back and do some more 🙂


BHAA National Championships 2016

On September 17th and 18th the BHAA National Championships were held at Old Mill Stables in Cornwall for the second year running. So most of the members of Cotteswold Mounted Archers made  the long trip down there, although due to financial and work constraints, we didn’t take our horses this time. Our newest member, Nicola, was already there when we arrived, having gone down a couple of days earlier to ensure she’d have time to do her assessment for Club Archer before the competition began. She easily passed her assessment, despite having only taken up the sport a couple of months ago.


Day one started with horse tryouts, followed by the first group of competitors doing the Hungarian competition, using a brand new target all the way from Poland. After lunch we then had the new Walk Course competition, for the younger archers and Nicola, who won the class. Eowyn came fourth, but still won the “who can get the most golds” competition she had going with Nicola, with I believe a bar of chocolate at stake……..



The day then finished with a second group of archers doing the Hungarian competition. Ali, sticking to the Tolkien-themed horse names, rode a cob called Bilbo and Alex got Tia, a very marish mare,  complete with sparkly browband.

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After a pleasant evening in the pub for dinner and chat, we were up early again on Sunday morning for day two. In the morning was the Korean competition, two runs of single shot, two of double and finally two of triple shot. Then in the afternoon was the Aussie Triple competition for the student grade archers, followed by the Mamluk for the HA grade competitors. The local BBC news cameraman had even arrived for this last stage, to film a few runs and interview a couple of the riders. We did have to stop a run at one point when he decided to stroll up to one of the targets to position his camera next to it!!

Al and Éowyn were fitted out with our new GoPro helmet cam, some footage from that (with a lot of talking from Éowyn) as well as the rest of the competition is here:

Then all that remained was to announce the winners. Overall winner and new British Champion was Simon Harding, followed by Oisín Curtis of Old Mill Stables in second and one of his students, 15 year old Amy O’Connor in third.


CMA came away with a first and fourth in the walk class (Nicola and Éowyn) and third and sixth in the Australian Triple (Alex and Aliénor).



Quick trip to France

We just got back from a couple of weeks’ holiday in France and of course there was some mounted archery involved. Ali went back to our old club for a couple of lessons with her French instructor, John, and he says she’s made some good progress.

DSC_2111 (2)During her second lesson, they tried jumping and shooting which looks like a lot of fun. Ali hit the target every time 🙂

DSC_2825 (3)Then last Sunday we spent a day at the Centre Equestre at Beaumont du Périgord with some old friends running a horseback archery clinic. Initially it was supposed to be me spending a couple of hours doing some coaching with an English friend, but when Isabelle who  runs the place found out I am now a qualified coach, she organised a whole day with more people. Was great fun, and of course we had the traditional 2 hour French lunch with BBQ and wine…….

DSC_2258 (2)Our youngest member joined in too and did really well, she even managed to hit one of the flying targets (unlike the rest of us!)

DSC_2223 (2)We did lots of unmounted practise first, moving and shooting, bouncing on a trampoline, playing team games (Team France beat Team GB!) and generally having fun.

DSC_2180 (2)Then after lunch they got on some horses and did a few more games for improving balance (and giving people  something else to do with their hands so they let go of the reins )

DSC_2294 (2) DSC_2394 (2)Then on to the mounted shooting, everyone did really well, starting at walk then moving on to faster paces if they wanted to……

DSC_2500 (2) DSC_2505 (2)DSC_2487 (2) DSC_2524 (2)DSC_2496 (2)We even introduced them to the Mamluk course, which they all enjoyed. A great day’s coaching, and they’ve asked us to come back the next time we’re in the area 🙂


GB v NL match

DSC_0826 (2) Last weekend saw us on the road to Cornwall again for the latest match in the BHAA International series. A team from Holland came over for a three-way tournament with a GB team and a GB under 18 team. Alex was on the GB senior team, and as of last Thursday, so was Ali (at the grand old age of 15), as one of the other adults had to drop out.

So, cramming the car full of camping gear, archery gear and the obligatory case of cider from our sponsor (and cheese from Alex’s sponsor), we headed down the M5 to Old Mill Stables, near St Ives, or nearly as far as you can go south west without the car getting wet. One day we really should get to go to a comp that’s not a stupidly long drive away. Although it was a lot further for the Dutch!

We got to the stables before dark, threw the tent up and went to the pub.  No sign of anyone else, so we had a quick pint and retired to bed. The next morning we were up early, largely due to the cockerels at the stables who apparently believe that morning starts at 4 am when it’s still dark……

As usual, there was a fair amount of standing around chatting to be done before some horses emerged down at the archery field and the process of matching mounts to archers began. Ali started off on Dolly, who is a mare very much with a mind of her own, and having never had a left-handed archer on board before, decided she didn’t really want to go down the run that way round. So we went to plan B which was an equally feisty mare called Tia who seemed to be permanently in season. Alex rode a nice little pony called Charlie who was of course remarkably straightforward compared to the mares……

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After lunch (Cornish pasties) we did the Hungarian competition. This being something we don’t get to practise much, the scores weren’t great. By the end of the day, the under 18 team was in the lead, followed by the Dutch and finally our (mostly) over 18 team.

DSC_0453 (2)The Dutch all rode really well and of course Dolly was as good as gold for one of their team……

DSC_0285 (2)After the competition was over for the day, we retired to the caravan site next door, where the accommodation for the rest of the teams was a lot more civilised than ours, and drank cider and ate cheese. Then in the evening it was time for a trip to the pub for dinner.

Sunday morning kicked off with the Korean competition, our girls did a bit better with this one, but by lunchtime (more pasties) the U18s were still in the lead. That afternoon was the Mamluk competition, this is a more interesting take on the Korean track, with such things as a target on the “wrong” side of the track and one flat on the floor, called a jarmaki. This is a lot of fun, but very challenging. The girls gave it a good go though.

DSC_0740 (2)DSC_0866cThe Queen of the Mamluk course turned out to be Charlotte from the Dutch team who scored amazingly well (if you hit all 4 targets you get extra bonus points) and snatched victory for the visitors away from Team Teen.

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So it was a great weekend, we met some lovely new archers and came away with a bronze medal and some sunburn. Here’s to the next one 🙂


HBA competitions 101

So here’s a question I get asked fairly often: how do horseback archery competitions work?

Well……it’s a bit complicated.

There are a fair few different types of competition, depending on which parts of the world you take the tradition from. Let’s start with the first type we were introduced to, the Korean competition.

Hailing from, well, Korea, this competition is usually run on a straight track over 90 or 150 metres. All the targets are near ground level between 5 and 7 metres from the track. The traditional Korean targets are things of beauty, multi-coloured and with a painted animal at the centre which looks to me like a tiger but I am reliably informed is in fact a boar…they’re not stripes, but tusks, apparently……

Traditional Korean target

The rules vary a bit depending on which type of run you are doing, but generally you have to start with your arrows in a quiver and you can’t draw one until you’ve passed the start line. Most Korean competitions start with a single target halfway down the track. Then they can change to two (angled) targets, or 3 or 5. Usually if five targets are used, the run is 150m long and you are allowed to start with one arrow nocked. There are also speed points available, but not unless you have actually hit a minimum number of targets.

There are various versions of this competition explained on the IHAA website, but as their diagrams are rather dull, I’ve found some prettier ones from this site (which also has a lot of interesting photographs you might want to look through)

Korean track

Next up, the Hungarian competition. I’m sure you can figure out where this one comes from……

Here’s a picture of the course.

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Hungarian track
Main difference from the Korean is the height of the targets, and that they tend to be circular. You have 3 faces to shoot at (unless you’ve got a fancy mechanical target that turns as you run along the track like our friends in France)  so this involves some forwards and back shots, making it a bit more technical. Again there are speed points, more information on the Hungarian competition here

Then there’s the Turkish style competition, also known as Qabaq. This involves shooting at a target overhead, using a blunt arrow or flu-flu. Flu-flu arrows look very pretty as well as having a silly name, since they are designed to make a somewhat gentler return to the ground than your average arrow……

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Qiraj-Qabaq_ Turkish Style
Qabaq style

As you can see from the pic, this can also involve shooting at a target flat on the floor too. Often you have to pick an arrow up from an arrow stand before you shoot it. And there might be another knock down target to aim for after the overhead one. I have never tried this, but there is a certain technique to learn with regards to rider position when aiming overhead, as can be seen in this illustration…..


You might want to practise that a time or two with your horse first to get him used to it……

Another competition I’ve never tried but would love to is the Polish track, sometimes called a hunt track. Having watched a couple of competitions involving this, it basically looks like a cross country course with targets instead of jumps. So would be a good test of horsemanship. Targets are randomly spaced out along the track, not necessarily all on the same side or the same distance away. Sometimes 3D targets are used. Hard to find a handy little diagram of this, but here’s a photo of my friend Claire looking cool on the DHA Hunt Track in Sweden.

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More information about this Swedish competition, along with some video so you can really see what it’s all about  here (the site from which the above photo is stolen).

Those are the main styles of competition you’re likely to encounter. There are more. The Jordanian involves holding a bow and a sabre, which sounds pretty dangerous to me, and as well as not cutting off any fingers, stabbing your horse or dropping any weapons you need to shoot an arrow at a target on one side then pick up a smaller target from the ground with your sabre on the other.

Tir Jordanien

Then there’s the Masahee, a bit like the Korean but with targets up on stands you knock over shooting a blunt arrow, that get progressively smaller with each run. The Mamluk course is one of the more challenging, with targets at various distances, flat on the ground and on the offside. Other variations on a Korean course have been developed by different countries, such as the Texas Triple or the Australian Triple. The Japanese have their  Yabusame competitions using asymmetrical bows. I do not pretend to understand how these work. A subject for another blog post, perhaps…..

And finally there’s something called the Mogu competition. This involves one rider towing a large white ball behind his horse at a gallop with other riders behind trying to hit it with ink-covered blunted arrows. This sounds like enormous fun, but of course I’ve never tried it. I have however heard it described by someone who has as the most terrifying few minutes of his life…..

Just desensitizing the horse to having this large white thing bumping along behind him sounds like a challenge in itself, although judging by the speed of the horses in some of the videos I’ve seen, perhaps they didn’t bother!

mogu resized

To really give you an idea of how all this works, in the video below you can see footage from the 11th  Horseback Archery World Championships in Korea last year. First is the Korean single shot discipline, then the double shot, then serial shot.  Next is the Masahee and you can see just how small the targets get. After that the Qabaq and then finally the Mogu . Oh, and lots of flamboyant costumes, dancing and some truly awesome hats……



Our members – Éowyn

My name is Éowyn. I got into horseback archery partly from my dad because he does ground archery and then my mum found out about horseback archery, let me try it and I liked it. I practised it a lot.

Our youngest member!
Our youngest member!

A few times on bareback and then in a field where we built a run and at some point I rode on one of our French friend’s western horses.

Practising at home
Practising at home

In 2015 I went to the BHAA championships for the weekend and there was a children’s competition. There were only 3 children but I won on my sister’s horse, Sky, and I won a shiny trophy and a rosette. It was fancy dress.

The trophy!

I like to practice on my mum’s horse Gandalf. He’s 22 but we can still ride him. He’s a lovely calm horse and the most sensible of the three, Elentari, Sky and Gandalf. Although I think they are all lovely. I’m a bit scared of cantering in general but okay with trotting whilst shooting but in the future I’m going to shoot whilst cantering in a competition… maybe.