Normally my Sundays are fairly pedestrian affairs at least when work doesn't intervene, today just because I've always wanted to try it I went on a horse archery course at a local equestrian centre. I used to ride a fair bit in my teens to a competent level & I dabble in archery on a fairly regular basis so the basic tools were in place ( at least I thought they were) so it seemed that a day long course ought to give me a grounding in the required techniques.
After a quick safety briefing and the first of many cups of tea I was introduced to the thumb draw recommended for use with a horse bow, at first this all felt a bit strange given as how for the last 35 years I've used the mediterranean draw- you know the one with three fingers on the bow string and the arrow resting on the hand to the left of the bow. The thumb draw conversely places the arrow to the right hand side of the bow and uses the crooked thumb and forefinger of the right hand to draw the string. This took a bit of readjustment as did the technique of nocking the arrow by touch alone, what is known as blind nocking. The whole operation falls into four distinct phases which have to be carried out as quickly and as smoothly as possible, difficult at first but surprisingly intuitive after a few tries.
After that its on with the actual shooting, lots & lots of shooting; forwards, sideways, backwards, walking & jogging. All designed to instil the actions into muscle memory, the importance of this becomes apparent once one is mounted; co-ordinating all the above & riding a horse is not an easy combination of activities.
It was at this point that I realised how rusty I was on horseback. All that muscle memory of correct posture, technique etc was long gone, this really bought home how important those blind nocking actions were particularly when riding at a rising trot on an independent minded equine.
However despite some early difficulties I was, by the end of the day trotting down the course and managing to loose three arrows off to a sufficient degree of accuracy to hit the targets & managing a Parthian shot over the horses rump at the final target.
The best part is now I've graduated from beginner school I can pop along for two hour sessions at £30 a time and hopefully become proficient in something genuinely challenging.
Sorry for the lack of pictures, I started off this morning with good intentions but there just wasn't opportunity what with all the information to digest. Perhaps next time.