How do I start learning mounted archery?
Archery instruction at KMA
Demonstrating speed shooting with a thumb ring at King's Mountain Archers

If you're an archer who's never been on a horse ... or only gone on a few trail rides while on vacation, we recommend taking a few horseback riding lessons in the ring with an instructor to make sure it's something you will enjoy and to which you can commit. A solid foundation in riding is critical for our sport. The facility where we practice offers beginning through intermediate riding instruction, but if it is too far for you to make it out regularly there are many barns in the area. Bay Area Equestrian Network may be a helpful resource if you are searching for an instructor.

If you're an equestrian who's never shot an arrow ... come to one of the practices of the Bay Area Asian Archers. Limited loaner gear is sometimes available, but only if you let the group know you need it before hand! If the timing never quite works out, most of the ranges in the Bay Area are on public land and have public instruction days during the summer. They'll teach using modern techniques and equipment, which is a bit different, but it'll give you a taste.

We don't require our members shoot a certain way (besides safely, of course!). Currently, all our members practice a style of archery using a thumb ring as set forth in The Way of Archery, which is a translation of Gao Ying’s 1637 Chinese archery treatise. It is a very different style from what you've seen at the Olympics or in Hollywood movies! The techniques and gear of modern archery are optimized for shooting from a standstill. The method we employ is closer to what was in use for thousands of years everywhere in the world except Western Europe prior to the widespread adoption of guns in war.

How can I join your club?

First, become a member of Horse Archery USA (HAUSA). This is required for our insurance. If you are a HAUSA member in the Bay Area, contact us!

Our club does NOT give riding instruction or provide horses. Though some members are individually riding instructors, arrangements should be made directly with them and not through us. We ask that potential members without prior horse experience take riding lessons before attending a practice so they have a better understanding of what will be involved in learning the sport and are familiar with basic ground safety around horses.

We require members be able to walk, trot, and canter reinless safely before shooting from horseback.

You don't have to be a member to particpate in any of the ground archery practices we attend, or, obviously, to take riding lessons on your own.

What sort of bow do I need?

Traditional Asiatic recurve bows (composite bows) often called "horse bows" were designed for exactly this activity. Modern features such as sights, arrow-rests, pulleys, and pistol grips get in the way at the speeds a horse archer must knock, sight, and release. Plus a shorter bow (or an asymmetrical one like the Japanese yumi) tends to be easier to manage in the saddle. Official Mounted Archery Association of the Americas (MA3) competitions require traditional bows.

We shoot many arrows at relatively short distances, so high poundage bows are unnecessarily fatiguing even at the highest levels of the sport.

To give you some specifics, here's what some of our current members use (all in the range of 30-40#):

What other equipment do I need?
Horse archer, horse, and horse archery gear
Ready for some horse archery with a bow, quiver, arrows, helmet, and horse.

You'll need arrows and a quiver suitable for horse archery. You will probably find you need gloves and/or a thumb ring.

Arrows can be purchased pre-built or you can buy the individual parts and build your own. Shafts are typically wood, bamboo, aluminum, or carbon. We recommend carbon for durability and consistency. Do not get plastic vanes as fletching; feathers will perform better with a bow that lacks an arrow rest and will be gentler on your knuckles. The exact specifications of the arrow will depend on the poundage of your bow and your draw length.

A quiver suitable for horse archery holds arrows securely near your hip or leg and allows you to pull and nock quickly while at the same time preventing the arrows from smacking your horse in the rear every stride.

I live too far away. Where else can I do this?

A good place to start your search is the MA3 or HAUSA. In California we know of eight other groups.

If you can't find any dedicated horse archery groups in your area, another organization to look up is the Society for Creative Anachronism. We are not an SCA group or affiliated in way, but their members are friendly and practice various medeival equestrian arts, including horse archery.

I have more questions.

Contact us!