SA Rally Day Update 12the March

Ground archery training for instinctive horse archery

We had a great day at Sunday's ground archery rally day, hosted by Bianca Stawiarski. The day catered to all levels of archers, from beginners who had never held a bow to more experienced horse archers. The training supported the development of instinctive archery skills, where the focus is on training your body to shoot accurately without aiming. Key to this is the development of consistency of form, and we practiced this by working through a number of training 'games'.

We braved the periodic showers and began by working on rotating the bow for the front, side and back shots while standing on the ground, sitting in the saddle on vaulting barrels, and shooting while walking. It was fantastic to have the opportunity to use the vaulting barrels to practice our form while in the saddle; as one person noted, it is a very different experience shooting while standing compared to shooting while sitting in the saddle!

Next we moved to a smaller target - a wooden shield - that we shot using blunts (non-pointed arrow heads). This was following by shooting at an even smaller target - a water bottle. Moving from the large archery targets to progressively smaller targets improved everyone's accuracy. While shooting at the large targets our arrows peppered the whole surface of the target, yet as the target got progressively smaller all our arrows were closely clustered around the target.

To further improve our accuracy we divided into pairs and competed in a game of tic-tac-toe (noughts and crosses, but with arrows!) on a target divided into 9 squares. The first to get a line of arrows won. We saw some great strategising from our youngest archer! The session ended with a horse archery loading meditation drill, with everyone standing in a line, eyes closed, following the mantra: 'Nock the arrow - Anchor - Open your eyes - And shoot'. Doing this with our eyes closed helped us to slow down and really feel the process, which is important in mounted archery where speed and fluidity of motion are important. See the video below.

After all that shooting and as we improve in our form, we're really looking forward to the next mounted rally on the 9th April so we can transfer our developing skills to horseback!

Happy shooting!
Candice
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