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“Suffer The Slings And Arrows…”*: Mounted Archery


By Tommy Brannon

One of the oldest horseback skills, and now one of the newest in the Mid-South, is mounted archery. Going back to when horses were first domesticated and ridden, throughout ancient times in Egypt and the Middle East, the Greek and Roman empires, the Far East and later in North America, warriors and hunters honed their skills, shooting arrows from horseback. The recent fascination with the Hunger Games has brought a new interest in mounted archery.

Shannyn Welsh at Ulric Equestrian Center in Byhalia, MS has started a mounted archery training program for horses and riders. Shannyn said, “I have been practicing mounted archery for several years now.  It takes about six weeks to train the average well broke horse for this sport. We have five available in the barn now and should have several more ready in the spring. There are seven riders participating at this time, but I have had about 50 or 60 inquiries.”

Shannyn explained more about her mounted archery program: “I have teamed with and bought most of my equipment through Everything Archery in Memphis. This is a very affordable sport. Bows start at about $100 online and a full kit with arrows and quiver start at about $300. The horse bows are the full recurve type with no notch or rest for the arrow, and the arrows are made of carbon fiber, wood, or fiberglass. 

“Like most horse sports, the biggest expense is the horse, but we will be renting horses for this sport as well. You do not need a special horse nor do you need any special saddle – English or western will do. I have witnessed greater bonds between horse and rider. Riders who are nervous or tend to overly correct their horses seem to benefit tremendously from mounted archery!”

“There are many course styles to choose from. For example: Korean single, Korean double, Korean Triple, Hungarian, and more. Each competitor gains points for each pass by which color ring the arrow strikes. Extra points are also gained by finishing the runs in less than 14 seconds.The ‘rush’ is what grabs you in this sport!

 “This is a family sport. Children are not allowed to shoot guns in the Cowboy Mounted Shooters competitions, but they are allowed to shoot arrows in mounted archery. I have seen husbands that did not, at first, have an interest in horses take up riding because they became interested in mounted archery.

“We teach both the riding skills and the archery skills. Archery training starts on the ground with stationary targets with bows that do have rests and knots. I covert over to the full recurve after the basics have been achieved with good style. We progress to shooting at a walk and then shooting on horseback at a walk and eventually at a gallop. Unlike stationary target shooting, you cannot look down the arrow. You have to shoot by feel or “Will the arrow to hit the target.” It is done without reins, so it builds a lot of trust in the horse along with balance.  I will be getting certified for Levels 1 and 2 Archery this year, along with a couple others at my Ulric Center, so I can teach people who would love to learn this enjoyable sport!”

Find out more about mounted archery and the Ulric Equestrian Center at: The Mounted Archery Association of the Americas website, on facebook at Ulric Equestrian Center.
*quote from Hamlet’s “To be or not to be…” soliloquy in Shakespeare’s Hamlet

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