Horse archery training without a horse

With winter on the way (at least here in Australia) our thoughts are turning to how best to maximise our training when we're unable to train with our horse. While it's great to ride and train in all weathers, we all have times when we either don't feel like riding in the cold/wet/heat, or our horses are injured or spelling. So what are our options for horse-free training when our goal is to improve our mounted archery skills?

Unlike ground archery, horse archery involves movement - both the forward movement of the horse as you race past the targets, and the movement of our bodies while riding. In this blog we thought we'd put down a few ideas for how to train without a horse while maximising our ability to hit the target while moving. Feel free to add your own thoughts/ideas to the comments section!

1. Shoot a rolling ball. Get someone to roll a ball past you and try to hit it as many times as you can until it comes to a stop.

2. Shoot a thrown target. Get someone to throw small foam targets in the air and try to hit them while they are airborne.

3. Use an exercise ball. Try kneeling on an exercise ball and maintain your balance while shooting at a target. See the video below of a Flying Fletches member practising on the exercise ball.
4. Balance on a balancing board and shoot. A balancing board (or wobble board) is a small wooden platform on a D-shaped piece of timber or a ball. Stand on the board and maintain your balance while shoot at a target (Instructables has instructions for a DIY balance board here:

5. Shoot while bouncing on a trampoline.

6. Walk or jog and shoot. Rather than standing still in front of your targets, walk past the targets while shooting. As your accuracy improves, increase the challenge by doing this exercise while jogging.

7. Use a mechanical horse. If you're lucky enough to have access to a mechanical horse, this is a great way to work on your form and accuracy while mimicking the movement of a horse at canter. Recently, three Flying Fletches members were lucky enough to have a session on a wonderful mechanical horse designed for teaching vaulting (gymnastics on horseback). Have a look at the YouTube video below.

Feel free to post more ideas, or discuss your experiences of using these techniques, in the comments below.

Happy Shooting!
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