Sunday, 29 March 2015

Horse archery course

Yesterday we went to the Centre of Horseback Combat for our first proper mounted archery lesson. Have ben looking forward to this for a while and it didn't disappoint.

First we had to get the right equipment. As we would be drawing the bow with our thumbs we had to tape them up so we didn't lose any skin. Epic fail by the teenager who managed to get her tape stuck to itself rather than her thumb and had to be rescued by mother. Then we were issued with natty little gloves for the bow hand to stop further skin loss as the arrow looses. Might also come in handy for preventing skin loss during ride and lead with naughty baby horses who like to stop dead to get their heads down to the grass......

Next it was time for a bow or two. "What's the poundage of your usual bow?" Karl, our instructor, asks the teenager. Blank look, shrug of shoulder. Luckily her father knew the answer.....

So suitably equipped, we went out to the garden for a bit of practise on the ground. We were carefully shown the thumb draw technique and practised everything really slowly one step at a time. Took a while for my old brain to get it right and just as I thought I'd got my head round it, Karl announces that the average run lasts 14 seconds so let's see how many arrows you can get off in that time. Er, one......



More practise without the time pressure. Then he timed us again. Still only one! Meanwhile, Karl and Michael, one of the BHAA guys who had joined us, effortlessly got 3 shots off in the time. So some work for me to do there! Next we had a little competition to see who could get 3 arrows off the fastest, I managed to beat Ali the first time, but then she got her own back and beat me the rest of the time......should be used to it by now.

After that, it was time to get on a horse. I got to ride Jupiter, the horse Ali rode at the BHAA Championship last year. First time I have ridden a horse in a bit for a long time, felt very strange. Also was strange to have a horse brought out all tacked up ready to go, doesn't seem right really.......

To start with, we went up the run at a walk, Karl holding the horse so I only had to worry about getting my arrows off. At the walk, you have considerably longer than 14 seconds, so this went well.
Ali did the same, in the other direction since she shoots left-handed.
Once we'd done a few runs at the walk and managed to get 3 arrows off each time (so that's me ready for Club 3 next time we go to France) it was time to move up a gear to trot. This meant poor Karl had to trot along beside us, shouting the litany of "bow, string, push, pull, thumb, finger, nock, loose....." so I could get it fixed in my brain. Kept forgetting to slide the arrow up to the nock on the string so arrows were going all over the place! I did get a few in the target though and was starting to get all 3 off in the runs at the trot before we stopped for lunch, so quite pleased with that.
Even remembered my "flourish", you bring your arm back over ready for the next arrow as soon as the first one has gone, and you don't have time to stop and watch whether you've hit anything or not ;-)
Meanwhile, the teenager and Michael were off and running, making it all look easy......

Once we stopped though I realised just how windy it was getting as I noticed a freezing cold Éowyn standing by the run, and my photographer was looking a bit disgruntled too. The horses were  on edge because of the wind and Karl decided that it wouldn't be prudent to continue in the afternoon since the weather was set to worsen as the day went on. So sadly we didn't get to do the rest of the course but the good news is we're going back in May. Can't wait :-)

2 comments:

Tails FromProvence said...

Looks like you shot yourself in the thigh in the 'flourish' photo but I assume you would have mentioned it...
Looks like fun, maybe you could get some people near you interested? I suspect it would appeal to many boys, more than dressage, for example.

Helen Barnes said...

Ha! No, I'm not quite that bad, that's the spare arrow stuck in my belt......
Horseback archery seems to be very niche here in the UK, there are far more people doing it in France now it's an official FFE discipline, our old club in Ste Foy for a start!

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