You Asked, We Answered
WHAT IS HORSE ARCHERY?
Horse Archery, Horseback Archery, Equestrian Archery, and Mounted Archery are all common names for the same art: riding a horse and shooting the bow--at the same time!
HOW CAN I LEARN HORSEBACK ARCHERY?
The best way to start your journey with Horse Archery is to attend in-person intro classes, a beginner clinic, or a beginner training camp with a qualified instructor or coach. Seawinds Horse Archers offers beginner training throughout the year in the Annapolis Valley, Nova Scotia. Lance also travels throughout Atlantic Canada teaching weekend clinics.
Some students have started by buying a beginner bow and some arrows, which we can mail to most places in Canada for $40 to $50 shipping. The equipment to start is usually under $200, depending on how many arrows you start with. Once you have the bow, a few video chats with Lance can get you started in the right direction for learning the loading and draw method, and basic form!
HOW MUCH DOES HORSE ARCHERY COST?
Beginner equipment startup cost (bow and arrows) starts around $200 total. A bow can last a lifetime, but students who train regularly will go through at least a few dozen arrows per year ($100 per dozen).
Training with Seawinds varies in cost depending on duration and type of event, time of registration and payment (we have early bird discounts), and whether the student has one of our memberships. For local students who can attend our weekly classes, the Level 1 membership ($50 per month) includes access to these classes and and a 20% discount off event registration fees and equipment purchases.
Depending on membership and time of registration, clinics and Seawinds camps range from about $80 to $140 per day of training, including meals. Grading events typically involve more focused attention (less students present) and range from $128 per day to $200.
Check out the membership page to learn about the different membership options we offer. Check our 2021 Calandar and booking page for more information on our training opportunities.
DO I HAVE TO KNOW HOW TO RIDE?
No! While riding ability will be an asset later on, all of the beginner training is done on the ground. You need to learn how to shoot before you get on a horse with a bow. Of course you will need riding experience by this stage also, which is a separate education! We can help with that also!
DO I HAVE TO KNOW HOW TO SHOOT A BOW?
No! Previous experience may be an asset, but Horseback Archery requires a different technique than standard archery. Everything you need to learn is covered in the beginner training clinics.
DO YOU HAVE AGE LIMITS FOR YOUR CLASSES, CLINICS, OR TRAINING CAMPS?
We have students as young as 7 and older than 70, but age is not limited. What is required is an ability to stay focused and a basic level of physical fitness to perform our training drills. We often suggest to parents who have younger children to try a class or intro lesson prior to committing to longer term class sessions, clinics, or training camps.
WHAT ARE THE PAYMENT OPTIONS?
We accept payments for membership, training registration, and equipment sales through e-transfer (to firstname.lastname@example.org), Paypal, checks payable to Seawinds Horse Archers Club, and cash.
DO YOU TEACH RIDING LESSONS?
Recently we've started offering horsemanship classes meant for the complete beginner to horses. Here we introduce the basics of horse behaviour and care, safety and tack knowledge, and the foundations for communication and healthy relationships required for riding. These classes work towards providing time in the saddle to provide the first riding experiences for students. Other programs are meant to teach the archery technique that works on the back of a horse, how to prepare horses to be brave to the archery, and the specific training of how to start and succeed at riding without rein tension and while standing in the stirrups with the core engagement and balance required for horseback archery. We plan many of our training camps to be especially for beginner riders where we present basic riding safety and instruction on our trained horses, with abundant time spent in the saddle and on trails. We do not currently have a focus on riding instruction in the classical sense or teaching Western or English riding.
I AM A FORMER COMPETITIVE ARCHER FROM NS, BUT WOULD ABSOLUTELY LOVE TO TRY THIS. IT MIGHT GET ME BACK INTO THE SPORT. CAN I USE A RECURVE BOW, OR IS IT TOO BIG?
An American style recurve wouldn’t necessarily be too long for horsearchery, but the big cut-out riser of the bow presents an issue for our technique as we hold multiple arrows in the bow hand for fast, serial shooting. From the first class, we start by learning how to hold three arrows and how to pull them from our bow hand using a grip method that sets us up to guide the string along our wrist and palm of our thumb into our arrow nock. We nock from the top down to the nocking point. Each student works towards a goal of loading and shooting at least 3 accurate arrows at a rate of no more than 2 seconds per arrow while keeping visual focus only on the target. Most students achieve this within the 8 class session. Most of us use a modified split finger draw method for this and shoot the arrows on the left side of the bow, but some work with different techniques on the right side of the bow and use a thumb draw, slavic draw, or pinch grip draw. We can teach them all, but by default the beginners are taught the three finger method as it is the easiest to teach without a quiver requirement and the fastest to advance with for most people. All the horsebows used in competition have no shelf, we just shoot off our hand. Our draw method is also lower and dynamic, having no fixed anchor point, as this works best on a bouncy horse once adequate core strength and balance is developed.
WHAT ARE THE COMPETITIONS LIKE?
The most common competition we practice is called the Kassai style, which involves 9 rides at canter on a straight 99 meter track with a time limit per ride of 20 seconds shooting at a centrally located 3-zone, 90 cm, rotating target set 9 meters to the side of the track centre. The archer must score at least 1 shot for the run to collect target points (scored 4,3,2) and speed points (1 point per second under 20 seconds). The rider may attempt as many arrows as they can launch (so starting and finishing at about 50 meters distance, and 9 meters the closest). Masters of the sport shoot as many as 12 arrows, but beginners do well to focus on one or two, especially on a fast horse. This competition also plays a role in an objective martial arts grading system for the sport, as students can apply to be tested on the track for a belt level based on consistent performance. The results of this competition have been recorded for 27 years for students from all over the world, and can be referenced on an online database at www.wfea.world. My favorite part about the competitions is that everyone has to work together to make it all run smoothly, from grooming the track, to time keeping, rotating the target, to scoring arrows, to fetching the one's that missed, and then when it's our turn to ride we are in the spotlight!