On Sunday we welcomed Borsos Torzs Horse Archery Club to Red Colt for our first ever Mounted Archery clinic. The weather was gorgeous, and, judging from the smiles on everyone's faces a great time was had by all! Here's a summary of the day.
Prior to the start of the workshop we tacked up nine horses and brought them into the ring to watch the groundwork and get used to the sights and sounds of bows in use. Our instructor, Robert Borsos, gave us some history of Hungarian archery and horseback archery in general before getting us moving with warm up exercises. We then practised the arm movements for the three basic shots: sideways, forwards, and backwards. Combining this with steps down the length of the ring let us begin to work the motion of the shot into our muscle memories.
The draw for horse archery is different from that used by ground archers. To stabilize the arms against the movement of the horse the draw goes to the centre of the chest, rather than to the cheekbone.
Another difference is the motion of the hand after the bowstring is released. Rather than leaving the hand where it is, the drawing hand snaps back, much like the offhand in a rapier thrust. This provides a counter-balance to the bow hand, keeping the rider's arms level and on target.
One of the keys to effective horse archery is rapid shooting. To enable this the archer will hold as many arrows as possible fanned in his bow hand. Robert demonstrated holding a dozen arrows at time and several different ways of smooth and fast nocking.
After we had all had a chance to shoot from the ground a few times, half of us got on horses and practised shooting from the walk, while our partners guided the horses and passed us arrows from the ground. This exercise truly impressed on me the need for rapid firing. Even at a walk, I was usually only able to get two out of three good shots in before Winnie carried me too far past the target.
I was very pleased with the horses who took it all in stride, with the participants, who were attentive, responsible and willing to help each other at all turns, and with the excellent instruction from Robert and his crew. I hope we can hold another workshop like this in the near future.
In the meantime, if you'd like to do more archery, Robert is holding training up at the club in Mount Currie, every day from now until their tournament on the weekend of May 24-25th. Contact him through the website, www.horsebackarchery.ca, to make arrangements.
Thanks once more to Borsos Torzs for coming out to share their art with us, to Aurelia and Blake for the photo, and to Isabel, Eleanor, Kate and Aurelia, who came out to hold horses for us in the hot sun!
This Month in the Cavaliere Program
Wishing you had your Riding Level 2 so you could shoot from horseback next time Mounted Archery comes around? Sign up for Cavaliere Classes starting Saturday May 11th to get on track with your Riding and Horsemanship skills. Whether you're a complete beginner, a regular rider, or somewhere in between there's a place for you.
Saturdays May 11 & 18, Jun 1 & 22
4pm - 7:30pm
cost: $60 per class; $200 for a series of 4 classes
Integrated package: 2 Cavaliere Classes and 1 Mounted Combat workshop in the same month for $120.