The Parthian Shot

Issue 3, November 2010
Welcome to the Parthian Shot, occasional newsletter of the BHAA. This is the third issue ... and yes I know we didn’t manage to get four out in a year as promised. However, hopefully that has meant there has been no compromise on quality and once again thanks to all those who have submitted articles over the last 12 months. The focus for this issue are the Dark Ages - and notably the infamous Huns. Described in history books as “the scourge of God” they were the original bad-boys of horse archery ... or were they?

Newsletter of the British Horseback Archery Association

Dark Age Horse Archers
by Rick Lippiett
During the Dark Ages Central Eurasia and Central Europe underwent a series of complicated, and seemingly endless migrations, invasions, conquests, reconquests and occupations. This was in contrast to Greater Persia which enjoyed some relative stability for 400 years under the Sassanid Empire (which had fairly seamlessly replaced the Parthian Empire). The situation was otherwise in the lands occupied by modern day Ukraine, Turkey, Hungary, Bulgaria, Romania and the Balkans. During the Dark Ages (roughly from 100AD - 600AD) an area of Central Europe became a prominent powerbase and would remain so for at least the next 500 years. The Romans named that region Pannonia, and indeed for some of the time it was considered a province of the Roman Empire. However there were a number of notable incursions by both nomad and Gothic tribes and consequent expulsions of Roman powers - these numbered some of the heaviest defeats of Roman armies in that age. The region encompasses an area that is now referred to as the Carpathian Basin and this remained a fertile and desirable area for a succession of nomad migrations from the Central Steppes. By the time the first millennium had passed its first centenary the Scythian migration West had been all but assimilated and dominated by a similar (some may even say the same) über-tribe - often referred to as the Sarmatians. In reality this was a loose confederacy that often warred amongst themselves over grazelands and livestock, not to mention internecine struggles of overlordship -

Hun Nomad Horse Archer - Horse and Hun Rider taking a break. Note slung bow & straight sword

much like the Mongol Tribes and Clans 1000 years later. Amongst these Sarmatian tribes were also the Saccae (the former Greek name for the Scythians), Roxolani, Iazyges, Siraces, Aorsi and the Alani. These were all related peoples and were of similar culture and ethnicity. These tribes shared Central Europe with the ever-present Gothic Tribes (who would later divide into Visi-Goths in the West and Ostro-Goths in the East) and a plethora of Slavic and Celtic tribes that lingered in these central European lands loosely or occasionally held by the Roman Empire. Ultimately by the 4th Century AD they were about to be over-run by a fierce, nomadic warrior tribe who shared neither culture nor ethnicity - but had in all probability at one time shared their former homelands of the Central Steppes. These were the Huns. They were undoubtedly of East Asian origin - and thus a different cultural and ethnic make-up than the more Indo-Iranic nomadic tribes occupying Pannonia.

As they were later described, ‘The Scourge of God’ would sweep out of the East in an unholy whirlwind of violence and destruction and completely overwhelm most of the nomadic peoples occupying Pannonia; ultimately either destroying or allying with these tribes to further their conquests - which reached everfurther Westwards and Southwards towards Rome and Byzantium. Although it would be the sacking of Rome by Gothic tribes that would bring about the final destruction of the Western Roman Empire, the Huns would provide critical deathblows between the infamous sackings (first by the Visigoths in 410AD and secondly by the Vandals 455AD). Despite conquering or allying a number of Sarmatian tribes, in the end, the Huns were repulsed by a mixture of diplomacy, trickery, famine, disease and a few key defeats in battle by the Romans - the most notable being the Battle of the Catalaunian Plains (or Battle of Châlons).

Where did the Huns come from?
Traditionally historians have associated the Huns who appeared on the borders of Europe in the 4th century with the Xiongnu who migrated out of the Mongolian regions in the 1st century AD. However ,the evidence for this is apocryphal at best and there are no historical records that definitively answer where the Huns in Europe of the 4th century came from . All we can say safely, is that the name Huns, in late antiquity, described prestigious ruling groups of steppe warriors that migrated from Central Asia to Central Europe and beyond.

The Parthian Shot
THE SARMATIANS The Sarmatians flourished from about the 5th century BC to the 4th century AD. The Greek name Sarmatai derives from the shortening of Sauromatai apparently by association with lizards (sauros). Suggestions for the reason the Sarmatians were associated with lizards include their reptile-like scale armour and their dragon standards. Herodotus describes the Sarmatians physical appearance as blond, stout and tanned - in short, pretty much the same as the Scythians before them. Indeed Herodotus believed the Sauromatians originated from an unfortunate marriage of a band of young Scythian men and a group of Amazons. According to Pliny (the Elder), Scythian rule once extended as far as Germany. By the third century BC, the Sarmatian name appears to have supplanted the Scythian in the plains of what is now south Ukraine. Considering the overlap of tribal names between the Scythians and the Sarmatians, no new displacements probably took place. In all probability the people were the same Indo-Europeans they used to be, but now under yet another name. Tacitus also describes the Sarmatians’ similarity to the Persians - the Sarmatians wore long, flowing robes and were accomplished horse warriors. In the late fourth century A.D Roman sources describe a severe defeat which Sarmatian raiders inflicted upon Roman forces in the province of Valeria in Pannonia in late 374 A.D. The Sarmatians almost destroyed two legions - the legions failed to coordinate, allowing the Sarmatians to catch them unprepared, divide them, and annihilate them one at a time. Sarmatian horse warriors (including those of the Alani and Roxolani) differed from the earlier Parthian cavalry units in that the heavily armoured cavalry had combined the roles of the lighter cavalry, or skirmishing horse archers. These horse soldiers would be adept both at using spears and horsebows (as well as the lasso). Some have claimed that this “universal horseman” was to be the blueprint for the Western European knights of the Middle Ages. However, this doesn’t explain the loss of the skills in both lasso and horse archery Nevertheless by the 5th century Notitia Dignitatum (one of the few surviving documents of Roman government) mentions

Newsletter of the British Horseback Archery Association

Sarmatian Heavily Armoured Cavalry - these “universal horseman” utilised both bow & lance

the Equites Sagittarii Clibanarii - evidently heavily armored horse archers based on the heavy cavalry of contemporary Sassanid armies and possibly made up of the Sarmatian “knights”. The Sarmatians remained dominant until the Gothic ascendancy in the Black Sea area and then disappeared from historical record following the Hunnish destruction of the Gothic empire and subsequent invasion of Central Europe. From bases in Hungary, the Huns ruled the entire former Sarmatian territory. Their various constituents enjoyed some autonomy under Hunnish rule, fought for the Huns against a combination of Roman and Germanic troops, and went their own ways after the Battle of Châlons (except those of the Alani settled near Orléans that fought with the Roman Alliance). Goths attacked Sarmatian tribes on the north of the Danube in what is today Romania. In their efforts to halt the Gothic expansion the Sarmatians armed their slaves. After a massive Roman victory against the Goths by Constantine II (son of Emperor Constatine the Great) the Goths were repulsed. However, the local enslaved population revolted against their Sarmatian masters, pushing them beyond the Roman border. Constantine I, on whom the Sarmatians had called for help, defeated the rebels and moved the Sarmatian population back under its auspices. However it came with a price and in the Roman provinces Sarmatian combatants were enlisted in the Roman army, whilst the rest of the population was distributed throughout Thracia, Macedonia and Italy.

Nearly 300,000 refugees resulted from this conflict and subsequently the Emperor Constantine was attributed the honorific Sarmaticus Maximus. (This was the historical episode that formed the basis for the 2004 King Arthur film directed by Antoine Fuqua) THE HUNS The Huns were a group of nomadic pastoral people who, appearing from beyond the Volga, migrated into Europe AD 370 and built up an enormous empire in Europe. The Huns may have stimulated the Great Migration, a contributing factor in the collapse of the Western Roman Empire. They formed a unified empire under Attila the Hun, who died in 453; however their empire broke up the next year. Jordanes, a Goth writing in Italy in 551AD describes the Huns: “A savage race ... they cut the cheeks of the males with a sword, so that before they receive the nourishment of milk they must learn to endure wounds. They are short in stature, quick in bodily movement, alert horsemen, broad shouldered, ready in the use of bow and arrow” The Huns kept herds of cattle, horses, goats, and sheep. Their other sources of food consisted of wild game and the roots of wild plants. For clothes they had round caps, trousers or leggings made from goat skin, and either linen or rabbit fur tunics. In warfare they utilized the bow and javelin whose arrowheads and javelin tips were originally made from bone, but were quickly replaced

Legacy of the Sarmatians

Whilst the Sarmatian tribes mostly disappeared from the annals of history, one endured into the Middle Ages. The Alans who had remained settled in the Caucasus acted as mounted mercenaries to the Byzantines before coming under the dominion of the Tartar dynasty. The Alani repulsed the Mongol hordes, and fought on the side of the Tartars against Tamburlaine - following which a large proportion of their nation was massacred. However, some survived and became the modern-day Ossetians. Those Alani that migrated westwards during the Great M igration settled in the Loire & Brittany in Gaul, Lusitania in Iberia and even North Africa - where they allied with the Visigoths. Even though the Alani were eventually assimilated, their legacy was evident from hunting dogs to horsebreeds and horsemanship in nearly all these regions (and many town names & crests still bear references to the Alani to this day.)

The Parthian Shot
by iron tips as they migrated into Europe. Whilst bow and javelin were used primarily as ranged weapons, the Huns employed both swords and lasso in melée. Their iron swords were long, straight, double-edged swords of early Sassanian style. The Huns also employed a smaller short sword or large dagger which was hung horizontally across the belly and used for close combat fighting. Both sword and dagger grips were sometimes decorated with gold. With the arrival of the Huns, a separate tradition of composite bows arrived in Europe. The bows were slightly assymetric and were reinforced with lathes on the siyahs and grip. However there is no indication that these bows were superior to their Eastern, Scythian or Sarmatian counterparts - and may reflect more the poor quality of materials that made up the bows (and thus needed such reinforcement). The fourth century Roman chronicler Ammianus mentions that the Huns had no kings but were instead led by nobles. For serious matters they formed councils and deliberated from horseback. Jordanes and Ammianus both report that the Huns practiced scarification, slashing the faces of their male infants with swords to discourage beard growth. Another custom of the Huns was to strap their children’s noses flat from an early age, in order to widen their faces, (in all likelihood to increase the terror their looks instilled upon their enemies.) As the Huns surged into Europe in the 4th century, they crossed the Volga river and attacked the Alani, most of whom were then subjugated and joined in the wars and invasions of the lands of the Ostrogoths and Visigoths. In 395AD the Huns began their first large-scale assault on the East Roman Empire - there followed a 30 year period with many alliances and battles both with and against the Gothic tribes and the East and West Roman Empires. During this time the Huns strengthened their powerbase as they conquered Pannonia - subjugating the Sarmatian (Roxolani and Iazyges), Slavic (Ante) and the various Celtic tribes that had settled there previously. Attila the Hun Under the leadership of Attila the Hun - who ruled with his brother Bleda - the Huns achieved dominance over several major rivals.

Newsletter of the British Horseback Archery Association

Hun Invaders

Supplementing their wealth by plundering and raising tribute from Roman cities to the south, the Huns maintained the loyalties of a number of tributary tribes including elements of the Gepids, Scirii, Rugians, Sarmatians, and Ostrogoths. Initially they made peace with Romans, returned to Pannonia and sought to expand eastward into Sassanid territory however they were checked by Sassanian Shah Yazdegerd I in Armenia. Seeking easier, softer, prey they turned their attentions Westward once more. After several crushing defeats the Byzantines in the East Roman empire eventually sued for peace and paid tribute to the Hun kings. For a time this placated Attila and Bleda; that is until 445 AD when Bleda was killed in a bizarre hunting accident; which was probably arranged by Attila himself. As sole ruler Attila once again rode Southwards and reached the walls of Contantinople. However he couldn’t quite topple the East Empire and the Hun armies were held back by the Byzantines; who once again sued for peace and made a treaty with Attila. This time Attila rode West to attack both the Visigoths and West Roman Empire in Gaul. After much success as he pillaged and fought across Gaul and the Gothic Empire of North West Europe, Attila was finally checked at Châlons by Flavius Aetius. (see overleaf.) Whilst this was not a crushing defeat, Attila was repulsed by the Roman-Visgoth alliance and Attila headed south into Italy to strike at the core of the Roman Empire in the West ... However he was destined never to take Rome, combinations of famine, disease, and an East Roman force invading the Hun homelands, stopped Attila

north of the Po. Furious with the East Roman Empire (who were under treaty) Atilla returned to his palace in Pannonia and plotted to invade their lands in retribution. But whilst celebrating his marriage to a beautiful young Gothic princess he suffered a nosebleed and died (this has been attributed variously to a drunken stupor, nuptial over-exertion or perhaps even murder by his new, possibly unwilling, wife!) Following the death of Attila, allied forces of the Germanic peoples under the leadership of Ardaric, king of the Gepids, defeated the Hunnic forces of Ellac, the son of Attila (who had struggled with his half-brothers Irnik and Dengizich for supremacy after Attila’s death). Ardaric eventually killed Ellac in single combat and Hunnic dominance in Central and Eastern Europe was broken as a result. The handful of Hunnic forces left were expelled by Ardaric - fleeing Eastwards and back to the lands that they had originally left. After the disintegration of the Hun Empire, they never regained their lost glory. Once disorganized, the Huns were absorbed by more organized polities. One reason was that the Huns never fully established the mechanisms of state, such as bureaucracy and taxes, unlike the Bulgars, Magyars or Mongol Khanates. Like the Avars after them, once the Hun political unity failed there was no way to re-create it, especially because the Huns had become a multi-ethnic empire under Attila. Given that the Huns were a political creation, and not a consolidated people, or nation, their defeat in 454 marked the end of that political creation.

Arrow Storms
A symbol of status among the Huns was a gilded bow - which showed the importance they placed on their horse bows. Equally their foes learned to respect and fear the bows of the Huns. The tactic of circling horse-archers in an ever wheeling whirlwind, just beyond the reach of the enemies ranks, firing their bows as each horse-archer passed in front of the enemy, was a very succesful and demoralizing battle manoeuvre. The Romans (and others) called it an “arrow storm” as the Huns, by virtue of the ever-changing “face” engaged against the enemy, were able to keep up a phenomenal rate of fire - especially since it is likely the Huns became adept at taking the arrows from the hand rather than a quiver (similar to the modern Hungarian competition style.)

The Parthian Shot
THE BATTLE OF THE CATALAUNIAN PLAINS 451 AD by Dan Sawyer

Newsletter of the British Horseback Archery Association

In many ways the story of Attila the Hun’s greatest defeat, at the Battle of the Catalaunian Plains, is best told by telling the story of the man who beat him. That man was Flavius Aetius, the leading Roman general of the age and a man who had known Attila for years. In 405AD, when Aetius was still in his teens, he was sent to live with King Rugilas of the Huns. While there he learned horsemanship and archery. It is not stated explicitly, but we may speculate that he learned to combine the two skills into Hunnish horseback archery. On his return to Rome he maintained a close relationship with the Huns. In 423, when he backed the wrong man in a struggle for the succession, he only survived the subsequent purge because an army of Huns was at his back. During this upheaval the Visigoths, under King Theodoric (whose father Alaric had sacked Rome in 410AD), had tried to seize Roman land. Aetius defeated them and their enmity was to last over a decade. For the next six years Aetius forged a brilliant career in war and in politics, becoming the chief general of Rome. When the Emperor moved against him in 432 he again fled to the Huns, still ruled by his friend Rugilas. With their help he returned and became commander-in-chief of the Western Empire and the power behind the throne. In 434 Rugilas died and was succeeded by his nephews Attila and Bleda, who ruled jointly until Bleda’s death, allegedly at Attila’s hand. Attila thus became sole ruler. He raided the Eastern Roman Empire mercilessly, extorting vast tribute as payment for withdrawing. When this tribute stopped under a new Emperor Attila was spoiling for a fight, but he had already raided the East and bled it almost dry. His eye turned West instead. Relations with the West, and particularly with Aetius, had been positively cordial, with the Huns sending forces to support Aetius in his various campaigns. This relationship was upset, however, by one of the most scandalous incidents in Roman history. Having been caught in flagrante delicto, the Emperor’s sister had been married off and kept a virtual prisoner. She wrote to Attila, enclosing a ring and asking him to free her. He took this as a marriage proposal and wrote to the Emperor accepting and requiring half the Empire as a dowry. This was the first that Valentinian knew of his sister’s letter and he refused, trying desperately not to provoke Attila. He failed and the Huns invaded the Western Empire. Realistically, of course, this episode was little more than a pretext for invasion and plunder. Aetius knew that his armies were not sufficient to withstand Attila. He needed allies and in particular he needed the Visigoths. He persuaded King Theodoric that the best defence for the Visigothic territory, threatened by Attila, was to meet the Huns in battle before they reached those lands. Their combined armies marched to attack the Huns, who were besieging Orleans. The Huns broke off the siege and withdrew to the Catalaunian Plains. In the resulting battle both armies consisted of multi-national alliances rather than individual nations. In particular the Romans were aided by the Visigoths and the Huns by the Gepids, whose king, Ardaric, was perhaps Attila’s closest advisor. We know little about the battle itself, but the following seems likely. It seems that the Huns attacked and broke the Roman centre. The problem was that their allies were not able to match this victory so the Romans were able to attack the Huns’ flanks and rear. The Huns were overwhelmed and withdrew to their camp. The following day the Roman alliance set about besieging the Huns’ camp. Theodoric had been killed in the battle and his son, Thorismund, wanted to assault the Huns but Aetius, anxious lest the annihilation of the Huns leave the Visigoths too powerful, persuaded him to return home immediately lest one of his brothers claim the throne. So why did the Huns lose? It has been credibly suggested that they may not have been using their customary horseback archery tactics. Even if they had, Aetius knew those tactics as well as anyone. Nonetheless, the Huns were coming from a siege, which is not a natural place for horseback archers. They were low on rations and the area around Orleans is nothing like as well suited to the maintenance of thousands of horses as the Steppe or the Hungarian plain. The suggestion is backed up by the fact that they charged into the Romans rather than standing off as would be usual for horseback archers. This battle, therefore, may well show that Steppe archers do not succeed anything like as well when they abandon their traditional tactics. Gibbon notes that ‘neither the spirit, nor the forces, nor the reputation of Attila were impaired’ by this defeat. The Roman alliance could never be reformed and the following year Attila ravaged Italy, withdrawing only because the Eastern Empire was invading his lands. Attila died the following year (453) on his wedding night. As usually happened when a steppe leader died, his sons fought and their neighbours took advantage. In particular Ardaric, Attila’s close friend, led his Gepids to a crushing victory over the Huns, effectively ending the Hunnic empire. In 454, barely 18 months after the death of Attila and 3 years to the day after the Catalaunian Plains ended, Aetius was assassinated by the Emperor, who feared and resented the great general. 6 months later the Emperor himself was assassinated by Hunnic officers who had served under Aetius. The Catalaunian Plains marks Imperial Rome’s last victory. 25 years later the last Emperor, a boy named Romulus Augustus, was forced to abdicate. He had ruled only in name, the Empire being run by his father, Orestes, a former aide to and emissary of Attila the Hun.

Descendants of the Huns
Many nations have tried to assert themselves as ethnic, or cultural successors to the Huns. For instance, the Nominalia of the Bulgarian Khans indicate that they believed they were descended from Attila. The Magyars (Hungarians) in particular lay claim to Hunnic heritage. Although Magyar tribes only began to settle in the geographical area of present-day Hungary at the very end of the 9th century, Hungarian prehistory includes Magyar origin legends similar to the Huns. The Huns who invaded Europe represented a loose coalition of various peoples, so it is possible some Magyars might have been part of the original confederacy, or may later have joined descendants of Attila’s men as they were repelled Eastwards and who still claimed the name of Huns.

The Parthian Shot
Kaya Traditional Korean Horsebow
by Dan Sawyer
This bow was not available in this country when we ran our review of bows last issue, so here is a short review of the new (here at least) Kaya Korean bow, also known as the KB90 (Quicks code), which is available from Quicks priced £125. I’ve shot the Kaya a couple of times now, most recently when Claire and I spent an hour or so trying 30lbs, 35lbs and 40lbs draw weights. I’ve also compared notes with a competitor at EOCHA who shot a 40lb Kaya (this bow is popular with the Korean team), with Neil and with Lucy, a new recruit to the BHAA who’s been shooting a 35lb Kaya for a while now. My first impression of the Kaya apart from its looks (leather wrapped with a leaf-like pattern) is that it is very light in the hand. You really hardly notice that it’s there. It has a built-up handle section, unlike most horsebows. Claire really liked this feature, having always had issues keeping a consistent grip on the Grozer Old Scythian that we both shoot. Personally I would have liked the grip to be fractionally larger and my hand felt a little cramped. An extra few millimeters and it would have been lovely. In practical terms it is not a major problem to build up the handle, so the handle goes down as a big plus, although possibly not to everyone’s taste. The bow draws smoothly and easily with little if any stack (the feeling given by some bows that towards the end of the draw they get very hard to pull back any further). It feels a few pounds lighter than the marked weight. I’ve not measured it but that’s how it feels and I would recommend trying a bow 5lbs heavier than you usually shoot when trying the Kaya. The Kaya’s draw may feel light but it shoots like a bow 5-10lbs heavier than it is. This is one of the fastest bows I’ve shot and certainly the fastest horsebow. This is, of course, all linked to the light weight (in the sense of mass) of the bow – light limbs travel faster than heavy limbs and these are very light and very fast. That said, the 30lb bow did not have the same feeling of speed. It felt rather more sluggish than the 35lb and 40lb bows. This may have been the particular bow but I would recommend trying to go to 35lbs or higher, at least to try them and feel the difference. One consequence of the low mass of the Kaya is that it has low inertia. This, combined with the high speed of the limbs, means that the bow can feel twitchy when it shoots. I did not get particularly tight groupings with the Kaya and felt that I was having to concentrate on holding it still more than I usually do. This feeling has been confirmed by others. Personally I have always gripped my bow relatively firmly and found that with concentration I could tighten the groupings fairly well after a while, and I am sure that with practice they could be tightened further. Lucy confirms that the twitchiness can be reduced equally well by taking a loose grip on the bow. The moral of the story seems to be that anyone trying the Kaya should be prepared for inaccuracy at first but should be aware of its cause and the fact that this can be rectified. A final note is the string. I would recommend anybody buying a new horsebow to look long and hard at the string. They tend to come with big heavy strings made of a relatively stretchy material called Dacron. By switching to a lighter, stronger and less elastic material such as Dyneema or FastFlight, the weight of the string can be reduced significantly. Traditional archers have tended to avoid this because Dacron is kinder to wooden bows, which can break from the extra shock caused by less stretchy materials. The Kaya would not have this problem, I suspect, especially with a Flemish spliced string rather than an endless loop (if you don’t know what I’m talking about here then do feel free to ignore the techy geek and move on…). We also found that of the three bowstrings provided, one had the centre serving in the wrong place and the other had it unravel as I shot. I would recommend getting a new string! In summary, the Kaya is very light and very fast. It would be particularly useful for those who have trouble reaching the longer range shots such as the Hungarian event can offer, since high arrow speed means long range. It is probably not the bow to get if you are not going to work on your archery, because it can be twitchy and inconsistent in the hands of somebody who has not got used to its little ways. I highly recommend trying one out, if only for the fun of it. Some will like it, others will not. This bow may well be destined to be the Marmite of the horseback archery world. But you won’t know until you try it.

Newsletter of the British Horseback Archery Association

Top & Middle Top: Kaya Traditional Korean Bow ( & Bamboo Arrows) Cost: £125 Length Strung: 42” Middle bottom : Kassai “Panther” Magyar Bow £200 (very similar to the much cheaper Greyhound £150 or Avar £140 ) Cost: £140 - £200 Length Strung: 50”- 52” Bottom: Grozer Old Scythian Bow Cost: £150 Length Strung: 45”

Top 3 Recommended Beginner Bows under £150
The Grozer Old Scythian is basic but reliable. Some people have issue with largish grip but overall it is a sound, well-crafted bow. Kassai Greyhound (Magyar) is suitable for horse-archers over 5’6” tall or Hawk Hunter (Avar) - for those 5’6” and under. Both these bows are longer than Scythian or Korean bows so some people may find that a problem. Even so they are remarkably light and well built for their size and very consistent shooters. The Kaya Korean Traditional bow is exceptionally small and light, perhaps a bit twitchy, but you get a lot of bang for your buck. Grozer & Kaya bows are available from Quicks Archery (& a few others in the UK) and of course you can try before you buy. Kassai bows are available off the shelf from http://bowshop.eu amongst others (or eBay)

The Parthian Shot
Making a Thumbring
by Gökmen Altinkulp
The thumbring has been an integral piece of equipment of the Central Asian archery school. It is called ‘zehgir’ (Persian), ‘shast’ or ‘okçu yüzüğü’ (Turkish). Among others, horsearchers and archers of these cultures used it in various forms: Ottoman Turks, Seljuk Turks, Mongols, Persians, Tatars, Mameluks, Mughals, Romans, Koreans and Chinese. This article will be about Ottoman thumbrings. This form of thumbring seems quite successful in history as the Persian, Mughal and Mongol thumbrings are very similar in shape. But even Ottoman thumbrings can differ in shape and size as you will see overleaf.

Newsletter of the British Horseback Archery Association

i

Materials for a thumbring

Advantages

The reasons are evident. The reason usually stated first is the “fingerpinch”, which occurs with the small bows used for horseback archery. But that doesn’t explain why the Chinese (Manchu) for example use the thumbdraw and thumbring? Their bows are relatively big. And what about the Japanese thumbdraw and their Yumi assymetric bows? Simply put, a release with the thumbdraw technique and the thumbring is cleaner, smoother and faster than a 2 or 3 finger European release. When done properly, the release can be compared to a modern mechanical compound bow release. Sir Ralph Payne Gallwey describes the advantages of a thumbdraw and thumbring in a similar way in his treatise which he wrote more than 100 years ago. Thumbrings could be highly decorated - as can be seen in the pictures opposite - and they could be permanently worn to distinguish oneself in Ottoman society as an elite archer. Note the ring on the thumb of Fatih Sultan Mehmed II, the Conqueror of Istanbul. Tests show us that the same archer achieves more speed with the arrow if the archer uses a thumbring and thumb release compared to a 3 finger release. I see that a lot of European archers are very interested in this technique and the thumbring but they lack the knowledge to make one. You can buy some online but I have seen that these are more decoration than a functional thumbring. The best way to obtain a thumbring is to make one yourself. It has to fit perfectly, otherwise it will hurt you like a shoe that does not fit. So let me describe step by step how to make one. Be patient though, the first ones will be for the bin but will give you precious experience.

The best materials for thumbrings are ivory, jade, agate, bone, or walrus ivory. Horn is inferior as the material is softer and the thumbring can deform after a while. Metals such as bronze or silver were used as well and once you have a good original it is easy to copy it. I do not advise antler. Nowadays it is hard to obtain ivory. For bows with drawweights of less than 70 lbs plexiglass can be used as well. We have had positive experience with a material called kestamid, which is a kind of polyamide. I lost my kestamid thumbring once and drove over it accidentally with the car; nothing happened, just minor scratches. I can use it for heavy bows of 90+ lbs draw weights. For an Ottoman type thumbring get a block with at least 4,5 x 3 x 2 cm (1 ⅞ x 1 ¼ x ⅞ inch). This full block should be good quality (picture 1 overleaf)

ii

Making of a thumbring

iii

With a pen you can draw the simple outlines of the thumbring on the top and the sides. We will cut these parts to save time, rather than starting to file down the whole block. When you cut it, it should look similar to picture 2 overleaf. Now you can drill a hole in the middle using a rather big drill bit. You can use the sides of the bit to make the hole a bit bigger but for now you can leave it small like in picture 3 overleaf. Now use a tool like a “Dremel” (a kind of small light rotary craft-tool used by hobbyists). Use a rough bit that will let you give a more typical thumbring shape. You could use a normal file as well. Make the hole bigger now though be careful, leave it still much smaller than it would fit your thumb. The tricky part is now to make a fitting hole for your thumb. The hole is oval, it is not round. The ovalness is very slight though. In the end you should put it on, turn it 90 degrees and it should lock and fit comfortably. The thickness of the sides and back can be 2-5mm depending on the material and the style.

iv

More Information on Thumbrings
Gökmen has his own Blog where he regularly posts articles pertaining to Turkish archery (including the use and making of Thumbrings) http://turkishflightarchery.blogspot.com

i. Iranian Jade Thumbring 17th -18th C. ii. Ottoman Jade Thumbrings 17th C. iii. Sultan Mehmed II “The Conqueror” iv. Historic Bronze and Replica Silver Thumbrings

The Parthian Shot
The sides are not straight, they flare slightly to fit the shape of the thumb, see picture 4. Work gradually from the inside making the hole bigger, and also shape it from the outside. When you have done this, you can use a finer bit to give the final shape. Gradually use finer files/bits. When you are happy with the final shape you can polish it with another dremel bit and polishing paste until it is nice and shiny. Alternatively you can rub in on a carpet in circular movements, but this takes a bit longer. Hopefully it should end up looking like picture 5 opposite. There is no notch by the way, the string rests on top of the ring as seen in the picture 6 below. The thumbring should not be too tight. Otherwise the string will not have enough space to sit on the edge of the ring and will go off without control. Compare the two different Ottoman thumbring forms below. It is not really two types but two extremes and it shows how the angles can differ. The closer it is to type A the easier it can be to hold the lock in full draw. With type B the release can be cleaner as the string doesn’t touch the ring again. With this type precious stones could be inserted as well - as seen in the examples on the previous page - without intefering with the string. An experienced archer can shoot both types with a clean release.

Newsletter of the British Horseback Archery Association
Leather piece

To save the thumb when using heavy drawweights, an additional piece of leather can be glued to the inside of the thumbring as seen below on a museum thumbring (Pic C). The leather is not used between the string and ring as wrongly stated in some literature. Instead it is placed between the string and thumb. The size of your thumb changes according to weather conditions. In winter your thumbring might be too loose, in summer too tight. I recommend having at least 2 thumbrings e.g. one for winter, one for summer. An alternative solution is using a trapezoid or triangular piece of leather. You can pull the thinner side through the thumbring on your thumb until the thumbring fits tightly, as a secondary benefit the leather will protect you from the string like the conventional leather piece as seen in Pic D. As I warned you the first ones will be for the bin so start with cheap material. Rather than making a few at a time, make one and shoot with it for at least a week to see how it fits and if there are any mistakes. Making a thumbring will take 2-10 hours depending on experience, material and tools. Feel free to contact me if you need help or advice at gokmenaltinkulp@gmail.com

1

2

3

4

A

B

5

C

D 6

The Parthian Shot
BHAA Summer Competition 08.08.10
On the weekend of the 7th-8th August, 14 BHAA members from across the UK (and a guest from Ireland) met for the BHAA’s 2010 British Horseback Archery Championships. The event was hosted by the Centre of Horseback Combat in East Sussex. Prior to competition day, competitors had time to warm-up, get their eye in, try out and pick horses and of course catch-up with one another. Despite the odd shower, spirits were high as the grounds were prepared for the big day. An evening briefing, a good meal and fireside banter relaxed everyone for what became a fantastic day ahead. Glorious sunshine met the campers on competition day and soon enough the track was melting under beating hooves and whistling arrows. A Reuters journalist and cameraman, plus plenty of keen photographers, caught the action which involved competitors battling it out in the Korean style as well as the BHAA’s “hunting” style. The Korean track involved all competitors riding down a 90m track shooting at one, two and then three targets to the left of track. A 12 second time limit meant that penalty points could be deducted for exceeding the time - which kept competitors on their toes (and particularly affected one competitor’s end score!) After its completion all competitors then had two runs in the hunting or ‘Hunt the Hare’ competition. The Hare (centre-stage overleaf) had a small kill zone which riders had to hit to score. In one of the most exciting finales, probably never to be witnessed again, Gökmen Altinkulp went head-to-head with Sheffield’s Damian Stenton in a “shoot-out”. With previous hits being rare, everyone was astonished to see Gökmen smack an arrow straight into the kill zone on his final run. The crowd had prepared for the visiting guest to receive congratulations when Damian’s arrow smacked in even closer to the centre spot! Nice shot Damian! All would agree the event was a huge success. It saw many new members competing for the first time, the development of the sport furthered, and the continuation of the horseback archery family’s growth in the UK. The BHAA Championships is an annual event. Want to compete in 2011? Then join up ASAP! email us at info@bhaa.org.uk

Newsletter of the British Horseback Archery Association

SINGLE SHOT KOREAN 1st Neil Payne 7pts/2 targets 2nd Gökmen Altinkulp 4pts/2 targets 3rd Dan Sawyer 4pts/1 target DOUBLE SHOT KOREAN 1st Neil Payne 10pts/3 targets 2nd Rick Lippiett 3pts/ 2 targets (-2 time penalties) 3rd Claire Sawyer 2pts/1 target TRIPLE SHOT KOREAN 1st Claire Sawyer 11pts/ 4 targets 2nd Neil Payne 7pts/ 3 targets 3rd Damian Stenton 7pts/ 2 targets HUNTING SHOT 1st Damian Stenton 2nd Gökmen Altinkulp 3rd = Zana Greenwood 3rd = Franklin Henson OVERALL RANKING 1st Neil Payne 24pts 2nd Claire Sawyer 13pts 3rd Gökmen Altinkulp 10pts

Champion Neil Payne riding his Appaloosa Cross mare, Anabel in the Single Shot

Runner up Gökmen Altinkulp riding the turbocharged 11yr old Welsh Cob gelding, Sputnik

Zana Greenwood, riding her 8 year old Andulusian gelding Niagara in the Double Shot

What has BHAA Membership ever done for us?
Why join the BHAA as a full member? Well, firstly you’ll be in line to know about BHAA events, tuition courses and competitions (like the above). We’ll also provide assistance and advice for those wishing to attend international competitions, and through our organisation you’ll have access to cheaper personal insurance for horseback archery. Obviously there’s the occasional quarterly horseback archery newsletter and you get to vote at Annual meetings. But the perhaps the real benefit is being a part of an emerging sport in the UK, and helping support and promote this ancient martial art.

The Parthian Shot

Newsletter of the British Horseback Archery Association

Promoting the Sport
2010 has seen an incredible amount of groundwork around promoting the sport and traditions of mounted archery. Largely these have been due to the indefatigable efforts of Karl and Zana Greenwood at the Centre of Horseback Combat. Both the sport in general and the BHAA have benefitted from both their sterling endeavours, and that of several other BHAA members (notably Neil Payne, Claire Sawyer and Dan Sawyer). This is a round up of the PR the sport has gained so far in the UK this year alone.

TV Coverage

During the August BHAA Competition a Reuters cameraman shot footage that has been syndicated to TV networks in Turkey, the Ukraine, the USA and of course here in the UK. Some of this footage was used for the October 16th edition of the BBC Breakfast Special - presented by Mike Bushell (who also came to the Centre and shot some additional segments of him learning horseback archery). Further reports have also appeared across the UK on BBC South East local programming (featuring the Centre as the only establishment of its kind in the UK) and an additional feature on ITV’s Meridian News centred around the BHAA competition.

Magazines & Press

The sport was featured in October’s edition of the HORSE Magazine in the “We Try …” section. Furthermore a feature appeared in an August edition of the Sussex Courier (where the reporter again tried a half-day course) and the Horse & Hound edition of the 23rd September featured an article on “New Exciting Courses to Try”. Finally the Horse and Rider December issue goes on the shelf during the first week of November and will feature a fantastic 3-page spread. I think everyone should agree this is fantastic for the profile of the sport in the UK and has brought Horseback Archery to a wider audience than ever before. There are of course further plans afoot and once these have been discussed at the BHAA AGM in November we hope to build upon such a successful year promoting mounted archery in the UK. BBC Video on Youtube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O_kizv5n6JM

Top: Damian Stenton lines up the winning shot in the Hunting Competition Middle: Franklin Henson, aboard his Andalusian Bo, celebrates hitting the Hare in the Hunting Competition Bottom: All the BHAA 2010 Competitors at the awards ceremony. The Hare taking centre-stage! All BHAA Competition Photos © Alan Sawyer

The Centre of Horseback Combat
The Centre of Horseback Combat teaches courses in jousting and horseback archery. Full day courses include lunch and an opportunity for horseback archers to try jousting, and vice versa. Archery on foot is available for spectators to have a go as well. Children and dogs are welcome, a play area is provided although supervision is required. We have a fully equipped clubhouse with games, Wi-Fi, snacks and drinks to occupy spectators and families, and the viewing balcony provides superb views of the action. As the sun goes down, please join us for a barbeque and some drinks in the Clubhouse, a perfect end to a perfect day! For more info go to www.horsebackcombat.co.uk

The Parthian Shot
EOCHA 2010
by Claire Sawyer

Newsletter of the British Horseback Archery Association

In early September Dan and I had the honour of representing GB and the BHAA at the European Open Championship of Horseback Archery (EOCHA). Competitors gathered at the venue outside Brussels on Friday with the afternoon put aside for trying out and being paired with horses. I was lucky enough to get a super Andalucian stallion called Mercenario and Dan got another French stunt horse called Cisco. Saturday was a beautiful day and a small crowd gathered to enjoy the sun, HBA action and crepes. 35 competitors from 10 nations paraded behind their national flags then those on horseback did a gallop past; this was even more exciting than I expected as my horse unexpectedly decided to jump the qabaq lines which had been painted on the track overnight. On both Saturday and Sunday (which unfortunately was a bit of a wash out) there was competition in all 4 disciplines. I competed in the Hungarian competition on Saturday. It was only my 2nd time trying this style and I struggled a little with the long range shots and there was
All EOCHA Photos © Claire & Dan Sawyer

added difficulty with Mercenario still throwing in phantom jumps here and there. There were many students of this style at EOCHA wearing their matching kaftans. Dan competed in qabaq on Sunday morning and performed well in his 3 runs. It was interesting to see how some people leant backward to aim upwards and others leant over the horse’s shoulder and twisted round. It was the first time qabaq had been included in EOCHA and the difficulty was clear, of 11 competitors taking 3 shots each there were only 2 hits of the 30cm target on an 8m pole. We both competed in Sunday’s Korean competition with 2 runs at the single and double shot and then 2 goes at the 5-target run on a lengthened track. The rules of EOCHA are that you need to hit 3 of the 5 targets in order to score points on the multiple shot which put the pressure on. Maybe it was just this pressure but the 5 targets in 150m seemed to come faster than expected and many people seemed to having difficulty in hitting enough to score, though arguably those on the Sunday benefitted from the run turning into a quagmire in the rain causing the horses to slow considerably. The final competition was the Belgian event – a cross between single shot Korean and it’s a knockout.

On the Saturday evening we were treated to a skill at arms and jousting show accompanied by the wit of Fred Piraux (EOCHA 2010 event manager). The competition was a great learning experience and Dan and I were happy to both come midway up the field in the Korean event. The overall winner was Christian Prestin (Ger) with Michal Sanzcenko (Pol), Roger Ittig (Swi) and Robin Descamps (Fra) taking the next placings. The highest placed Brit was Mike Ashington, an independent competitor who shot mostly with his longbow, who came joint 7th. The highlight for us was the experience as a whole; a chance to ride and compete under a little more pressure, meeting competitors from across Europe and from Korea, and the exchange of ideas and techniques. Many thanks to Zana who came over with us and was a huge help with the horses. We would encourage other members to enter international competitions, everyone there has had to cut their teeth at this level of competition at some point; we found the atmosphere welcoming and Christian Schrade very encouraging. Get in touch with BHAA committee members if you want any advice or help.

European Open Championship of Horseback Archery (EOCHA)
The central concept of EOCHA is a meeting of like-minded people across the globe to compete together and become friends. EOCHA aims to incorporate any competition style; and to honor the best mounted archer in all skills - not just the specialist in one style. EOCHA aims to help re-discover ALL horsearcher traditions ranging from American Indian of the Great Plains to the ancient Scythians of the Central Steppes, and from Norman Longbow Riders to Ottoman Sipahi. EOCHA encourages the members of the different participating countries to look to their national historic traditions and compete in authentic costumes. EOCHA aims to continue being both a competition and a celebration of the cultural experience (which happens on the Saturday night!)

The Parthian Shot
Origins & Aims of EOCHA
by Christian Schrade
Since the first German Championship in which 5 different countries participated, we wanted to become truly international. Personally I like foreigners, I love foreign food, and foreign rites and customs; there is also a powerful drive in me to do everything better the next time – always wanting to struggle for improvement. After my wife and I visited Korea 4 years ago, and hosted their return visit to our German Championship, we were sitting at home and brain-storming how we could make a bigger, better, competition and with whom we could get to participate. We started with naming; a good name can be an omen for success. So why EOCHA? First we did not want to be global or worldwide - when we can barely invite more than five different nations. Second we wanted to be open - open minded, with an open heart and an open understanding to welcome everybody. In other words we wanted to make it possible for everyone to come and feel happy during the competition. Europe is difficult enough to get together and we can only be successful if we are open with everybody. The rest is just what we are doing – shooting arrows from horseback. As the EOCHA is an European competition it has to move through Europe. Among all the other international mounted archery competitions EOCHA is the only one which changes its tournament location. The first step has been done this year with the help of our Belgian friend Fred Piraux. Even though the tournament was on a slightly smaller scale than its predecessors - just the fact that it has been executed abroad was a big step forward. Next year it will take place in Poland in the city of Posnia. I’m sure we will all be impressed, because the Polish team are really putting a lot of energy and money in this competition combined with their customary professionalism. Looks like being an EOCHA to my taste – always seeking to improve!

Newsletter of the British Horseback Archery Association

Training Your Horse For Horse Archery - Part 1
by Damian Stenton Introduction
Welcome to the first article introducing the training of the horse for horseback archery. Why the first? Well fundamentally there are three basic requirements of the horseback archer’s horse: 1. Acceptance of the bow, quiver, arrows & shooting in proximity. 2. Maintenance of pace. 3. Maintenance of direction. The purpose of this first article is to suggest a possible systematic process on training the horse to accept the equipment and arrows being shot off their backs.

Stage One – Desensitise the Horse to the Equipment
I prefer to do this holding the horse myself but you could use an assistant, either way the horse should not be tied up. Whilst presenting the various items of the equipment to the horse ensure you are stood in a safe position should the horse spook or jump and that if you have an assistant with you they are stood on the same side as you are. The aim is to not firmly hold the horse in place but to allow it to ‘drift’ if it feels the need to do so, you need to be in a large enough area to allow this and also have safe footing underfoot which is not slippery. The essence here is to teach the horse to stand still and accept the equipment by ‘approaching’ with the bow, quiver, shooting glove etc from a position the horse feels comfortable with, allowing the horse time to smell and investigate it; if the horse remains calm and still, you remove the stimuli or ‘retreat’ as a reward. If you find a spot where the horse becomes uncomfortable remain there until they become calm and/or stand still again before retreating. At the very least we want to reward the horse looking toward the stimuli and not fleeing from it. Should you find a spot where the horse is significantly scared and flighty you should consider that the approach was too quick or too great and revise this on repetition. When the horse learns that the pressure of the approach will be released when they remain calm, they will become more confident and remain calm for increasingly longer periods of time whilst accepting the stimuli getting closer and in different areas of their body. Once you have desensitised one side of your horse you must repeat the same on the opposite side; due to the way the horses brain works there is little connection between both sides of the brain and therefore you should treat each side of the horse as two separate horses. When the horse is entirely comfortable with all the equipment up, in and around its space, you should start to simulate the actions or nocking arrows, dry drawing the bow etc to prepare the horse for later stages. Do not be afraid to build big and bold actions into this stage as long as you have been progressive.

Pre-training Checks
• Have a basic knowledge of horse psychology and how that affects their behaviour. • Have a good knowledge of your horses’ temperament, what their attitude to life is and some idea of the reactions to expect. • Be able to lead safely and control your horses’ position and pace from the ground, including standing. • Be familiar with the desensitisation / approach and retreat method of introducing new stimuli. • Ensure you have the use of another person to help at times.

Desensitisation through Approach & Retreat
There are a number of definitions available for the word / process of ‘desensitisation’. For the sake of this article let’s consider it to mean making less susceptible or sensitive to either physical or emotional stimuli. You ‘approach’ or introduce the stimuli at a distance that is initially comfortable for the horse to accept, and ‘retreat’ or remove the experience whilst the horse is performing the desired behaviour. The horse then learns that by performing the desired behaviour the stimulus goes away. The art is in the balance and timing of the approach followed by the repeat.

Choosing a suitable horse for Mounted Archery
Not every horse will be suitable for horseback archery, however many will. The ideal horse would be bombproof, with a good temperament and a flat, even canter. Obviously horses like this are few and far between and you’re normally lucky if you get 2 out of 3! Good temperament and a bombproof nature make life easier for general training and de-sensitising; whilst the flat, even canter means that you have minimal disruption at the point of release when actually shooting from horseback (and hopefully therefore more accuracy!)

The Parthian Shot
Stage Two – Desensitise the Horse to Shooting from the Ground
Considering the approach and retreat method the aim is to desensitise the horse to the sight and sound of shooting the bow and arrow. Do not rush this, take as much time and repetition as is necessary. At a distance – horse loose The horse can either be loose in its stable, a round pen or small paddock whilst you shoot nearby. The purpose of this is to allow the horse to find its own comfort level by either moving to the far side of the pen or moving closer to investigate what is going on. At the very least it allows you to make an initial assessment of the horse’s reactions whilst maintaining safety. At a distance – horse held Once the horse is showing that he is comfortable with the above you can start to have them held at the pen or paddock fence side whilst you continue to shoot nearer to them. My personal preference here is to use an assistant to hold the horse, rather than tie them up, so if there is any problem they can still allow the horse to drift and assist with further desensitisation training. Up close The next step is to develop confidence with you shooting up close and personal with them. This should be done progressively by initially pretending to shoot, drawing the bow without arrow and should build on the initial desensitisation work you have already done. Always be prepared to take a step back in the training presentation to take two steps forward. Again an assistant can hold the horse as you work close to them and from their front side and towards the rear. I personally prefer to work on my own here, tucking the rope loosely into my belt so it would pull through if the horse panics or pulls away. You must have developed a solid foundation prior to venturing into the areas of the horse’s space that could potentially be less safe. The ballast of a suitable assistant can be used to great effect here, again allowing some ‘drift’ but maintaining a safe control. Once mounted have your assistant help you desensitise the horse to having the bow and arrow etc passed up to you and passed down again. Work to be able to touch and rub the horse all over his body, both sides with the bow and arrow (you may want to use a blunt arrow initially). You should also work to be able to drop the bow without frightening the horse, as you will at some point do this if not on purpose most probably by accident! Assuming you now have a calm, confident horse try shooting the bow whilst your assistant holds your horse. We can consider there are three shooting positions 45 degrees forward, 90 degrees to the side and 45 degrees to the rear. I tend to start with the 90 degrees to the side and then work to establish confidence in all three. Again you should use approach and retreat as you did on the ground, dry drawing, nocking, raising and lowering the bow undrawn and drawn etc and finally shooting.

Newsletter of the British Horseback Archery Association

Stage Four – Shooting in Motion
Once the horse is confident with you shooting whilst standing still introduce some motion, initially being led by your assistant and then eventually without. Building up from walk to trot to canter to gallop! I will cover this stage further in the next article.

Conclusion
The key to training is the quality of approach and retreat, it isn’t always what you are doing that teaches, but when you stop doing it! If each of the above stages is given enough time and repetition, and you also consider spending the time required to establish sound control of pace and direction, you are on your way to forming the relationship necessary for successful shooting. Remember this is not a training manual, rather a brief outline. If you have any questions or would like any points explaining further or expanding you are welcome to contact me – ossrider@horseback-archers.co.uk

Stage Three – Desensitise the Horse to Shooting from the Saddle
Having done the ground work it is time to climb aboard. In all of the following work you must be able to anticipate the horse moving off and have a suitable method for controlling this.

From top: Damian training Senator, an 18yr old, warmblood gelding. 1. Shooting on the ground while held. 2. Shooting mounted whilst standing still. 3. Shooting mounted at walk. 4. Shooting mounted at trot, and finally 5. Shooting Mounted at canter. Video Link: http://www.youtube.com/ watch?v=8mhQQxBFK0

Choosing a horse (contd) ...
It goes without saying that while not impossible, hot-blooded breeds such as Thoroughbreds or Arab horses add more difficulty into the process (but there are good examples of both types being used successfully for horseback archery of course). Traditionally Turkish and Korean horseback archers have favoured small, fast ponies - whilst Hungarian mounted archers have tended to use slower, slightly larger horses, thus enabling them to shoot more arrows. Here in the UK a Welsh Cob is a good starting point - however, this is not a hard and fast rule that ALL Welsh Cobs will be suitable. What is essential is knowing your horse and having confidence in both its abilities and of course the rider’s own confidence in their ability to train a horse for a specific sport.

The Parthian Shot
Mounted Archery Association of America Competition - Oct. 2010
by Neil Payne
The City of Redmond in Oregon recently hosted the first international horseback archery competition in the USA. Competitors from the USA, UK, Germany, Malaysia, Brazil, South Korea, Poland and Japan enjoyed a week of fantastic weather, incredible food, fun archery and great company. The Mounted Archery Association of the Americas (MA3) had been quiet on the largescale competition front since the International Horse Archery Festival in Fort Dodge during the earlier part of the decade. Brought together by the vision of Dr Holm Neumann, the competition this year has without doubt accomplished many great things. The week began with trial of the horses and archery practice at Dr Neumann’s ranch out in the beautiful Oregon countryside. Against the backdrop of mountains, known locally as the Three Sisters, many of the Mangalarga Marchado horses were put to the test. One of these, Casablanca, was chosen by Jehad Shamis for the competition while Neil Payne settled for a small Rocky Mountain pony by the name of Lexi. After a few days in holiday mode, competition time soon came round as all hands hit the deck to get the course and stadium ready. The Saturday saw an amazing turnout from locals. In many years of international competition experience, neither of the British team had witnessed such an enthusiastic, vocal and supportive crowd. The noise levels certainly contributed to competitor nerves as the Korean style competition unravelled over the course of the day. A well spread out course of events also saw demonstrations in Korean mounted martial arts, native American dancing and horse tricks. The day ended with everyone buzzing from what was incredible fun. Day two saw the Hungarian style and Mogu take place as well as demonstrations of Qabaq, fast nocking, mounted martial arts, and the crowd pleaser ... shooting from horseback at knights in armour!

Newsletter of the British Horseback Archery Association

Top: British Cameraderie - Neil Payne congratulates Jehad Shamis on a succesful run Bottom: MA3 Competitors from all over the globe Photos © Azusa Namimoto

A closing ceremony brought the event to an all too early end. Overall winners included Master Lee (Korea), Lukas Novotny (USA), Michal Sanchenko (Poland) and Dana Hotko (USA). So what did the competition achieve? It has without doubt raised the profile of horseback archery in the USA. The event attracted “horsey” people and all of them were extremely impressed with the sport and the competitors. A cowboy in conversation with Neil remarked “I’d love to see what you guys could do on your own horses!” A lot, it is felt, will follow up and take up the sport. Secondly the competition, it would appear, has reinvigorated the members of MA3.

Although a steep learning curve, the organisers learnt a lot from hosting the event and their enthusiasm to do bigger and better event next time, was clearly visible. Lastly, from the purely personal perspective of both British competitors, the experience radically changed all perceptions of America and Americans. Without doubt the British media feeds a certain stereotype of the people. Nothing could be further from the truth. Both Neil and Jehad came back with glowing comments on how nice, genuine, warm, caring, concerned, open-minded, tolerant and wonderful all the people were. Genuine friendships were made in that week which will last a lifetime ...

2011 Competitions
This year will see an EOCHA in Poland in September and also a further BHAA Competition - likely again to be at the end of the Summer. The 7th annual World Horseback Archery Federation competition in Korea will take place in late July 2011, and there may be further events in the USA and Europe however the dates for these are yet to be agreed. If anyone wishes more information about representing the BHAA or competing abroad in general please email: info@bhaa.org.uk