Horseback Archery: You Can Do It Too

May 22, 2023

Do you shoot archery?
Do you ride horses?
Ever thought of combining the two?
The wind through your hair as your horse flies down the course. You inhale and draw your bow. Exhaling, you release your arrow. Bullseye!
Want to do this for real?

Keep reading and we’ll show you how.

What kind of horse is best for horseback archery?

The ideal horse for horseback archery is one that is calm, cool and collected under pressure and doesn’t mind having their own job to do while the rider draws and shoots their target.

There is no specific breed that is better at mounted archery than another, it all depends on the horse’s training and personality. If a horse is high-strung and needs constant reassurance from the rider then they may not be suited for this sport. However, this sport is not as loud and intense as something like rodeo so it may be that this sport would be just the thing to calm them down. That being said, popular breeds for the sport are Quarter Horses, Arabians, Paints, Mustangs and Missouri Fox Trotters. These breeds have proven to excel but like every sport practice can help make you perfect!

How does a competition work?

Horseback archery competitions are not that complicated.

Are there a lot of rules? Yes. Just like with any sport, there are guidelines that you have to follow in order to make sure that the game is being played fairly.

There are many different types of courses that participants can ride in. The most popular are the Korean Course, the Tower Course, and the Hunt course.

In the Korean Course, riders have 14 seconds and 90 meters to shoot 3 arrows from their choice of quiver. All three of the targets are shot to the side and are spaced 30 meters apart.

For the Tower Curse, there are 3 targets that are up on a pedestal. The first target is shot facing forward, the second target is shot to the side, and the last is a back shot. This course is also 90 meters, but you can shoot as many arrows as you can between the timers. The maximum time for this course is 16 seconds.

The third most popular course is the Hunt Course. It is 350-500 meters long and is usually set up with 8 targets. There is a little more room for customization with this one because it is so long that not many people have enough space for it.

Woman on horse shooting bow and arrow behind her

Where can I watch it?

Horseback archery can be enjoyed by everyone. The tricky part is to find a place where you can actually watch it.
If you keep an eye on your local Renaissance Faire or horse event page you may find an event happening, however, for the most part horseback archery is a private competition. If you go onto the Mounted Archery Association of the Americas’ website you can find a list of events and competitions that are for public viewing.

If you do end up going to a competition you will need to bring your own snacks, drinks, and shade. Bring your top-notch enthusiasm as this game gets really exciting.

If you still don’t know where to go or even where to look for a place to keep an eye out for horseback Archery competitions? Contact these places for information on coming out to possibly watch a practice or a competition or even if you want to participate in it yourself. All of these clubs are certified through MA3 and have insurance that will protect both horse and property owners.



  • Bow Creek Mounted Archers


woman riding horse carrying archery bow in her hand

What kind of bow do you use?

One of the questions that horseback archers get asked the most is: what kind of bow is used for horseback archery?
When you shoot at such a high speed you can’t use a compound bow or a bow with any sort of modifications. If you were to use a longbow your horse would be constantly getting smacked by the bottom part of your bow. That’s why there are specific bows, aptly nicknamed “horse bows”, that are only allowed to be used in horseback archery.

Why do I have to use this type of bow?
The horse bow is shorter and allows the archer to be able to move with their horse and shoot from all different angles.
All bows are different, so if you don’t have someone local that sells horse bows, here are a few reliable places to buy a horse bow from.


Alibow has been manufacturing bows since 2003. They started out being handmade by a bowyer named Li Zhang from Fuyang, Anhui, China.
Alibow started out as a small business and today is one of the biggest suppliers for traditional archery and horseback archers all over the world.
They have a fantastic array of styles and draw weights on all of their bows and they are all made with high-quality material. Some are made of synthetic and some are a combination of synthetic and wood. We highly recommend if you are a beginner, trying out the Tartar bow. It is both affordable and a great bow to start shooting traditional archery with.


Saluki bows are some of the most refined and high-performing interpretations of an Asian bow for horseback archery.
Lucas Novotny founded the Saluki Bow Company in 1998 and has been a full-time bowyer since then. These bows are beautifully handcrafted in the US and are named after the hunting dogs from the Middle East.
Saluki bows are made from quite a few different types of materials. Some are synthetic while others are made from wood or horn. Each bow is custom-made and is the highest quality of horse bow that you will find. They come in an array of styles and draw weights.
And for those who have a larger grip can be made to sit more comfortably in your bow hand.


Yumi bows were used by Samurai Warriors in the Futile Japan era.
Most Yumi bows are made out of bamboo and come in a variety of draw weights. The interesting thing about these bows is that, while they may look like your traditional English longbow, the hand placement is actually farther down the handle of the bow. This makes sure that the bow does not hit your horse while riding. These bows are traditionally shot by using the thumb draw.

What kind of target should I use?

There are many different types of targets that you can use for practicing archery.
It depends on if you want to practice horseback or if you want to practice on the ground. The standard size target is an 80 m round target scored with the center being worth 5 points and then all the way out to the outer ring which is worth one point.
However, if you are wanting to practice and don’t currently have the budget for an expensive competition-style target here are a few options that you can do in order to Make sure that you are getting in your practice:

Straw Bales

You can go to your local Wilco Farm Store and pick up a bale (or two) of straw.
Grab a can of spray paint and whatever color you want and draw one opaque circle in the middle with a couple of rings around the outside. If you need a visual reference you can look up pictures of archery targets.
This can be a good substitute until you can afford to buy one of the more expensive targets. And if you have animals you can recycle the bale for bedding or possibly in your garden.

Wheat Straw Two-String Bale

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Feed Bag

You can use a feedbag filled with packing materials for a target. Grab your favorite color of spray paint and go to town on it.
While these targets are great for ground archery, they won’t hold up if you decide to use them while practicing on horseback. Because you will be cantering while shooting, your arrow will go through the target. We recommend only using these for ground archery.

Niblet Slow Feed Hay Net 42 in.

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EVA foam

If you are wanting to build your own target and have it be a little bit more substantial then but still can’t afford a competition target you can go down to your local craft center or go to Your local hardware store to find some supplies to make your own.
You want to look for pieces of EVA foam that are used for kids’ play areas. This foam will be a good replacement for the targets and can be a bit more durable if you plan on shooting a lot. Grab a few of the industrial zip ties and strap the EVA foam pieces together.

Whether you are a beginner or have been doing this for many years there is always something new to learn when it comes to horseback archery. Contact your local club and get started today! Safe & Happy shooting!