Horseback (Mounted) Archery

The horseback archer is a traditional technique used for hunting around the world. It involves a trained rider capable of accurately shooting an arrow from a bow while riding on a horse.

Some of the first peoples to use mounted archers include most of Eurasian nomads during the medieval period. Over time, the practise spread into Eastern Europe, to Mesopotamia and eventually to the far reaches of East Asia.

One country in particular that became renowned for its horseback archery were the samurai warriors of Japan and they called it Yabusame.

As a sport, the objective is for a rider to run reinless along a 90m course while shooting arrows at targets at varying distances. Mounted archery is increasing in popularity in the United States with many riding clubs offering members a chance to learn.

Countries like Mongolia, which once depended on mounted archery for both survival and protection, has ushered a revival of the skills since its independence in 1921. However, the sport itself is only displayed during festivals and often with competitors standing and releasing arrows, not on horseback.

Interesting Fact: A rider must be the master of both horse and bow. Loosing an arrow requires both hands to be on the bow while leaving the reins free. This leaves the horse being guided solely by the rider’s skill.

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