There is an overwhelming amount of traditional archery equipment out there to choose from! My advice is to start with a simple, basic setup, and upgrade as needed. Consider your budget (and plan to toss it out the window when you find some really cool gear!) and take time to choose the equipment that is right for YOU. You’ll find the necessary equipment that is needed to start your adventure into horseback archery listed below, along with links to specific items. Feel free to explore what else is out there, the specific products listed are simply my personal recommendations, but by no means are they the only options!
TRADITIONAL HORSE BOWS
There are a variety of “horse bows” on the market, and several different styles to choose from, including Mongolian, Korean, and Hungarian just to name a few. Don’t be afraid to ask your fellow horse archers and instructors for their recommendation, just keep in mind that everyone has their own personal preferences. Compound bows are strictly prohibited in horseback archery.
If you’re serious about pursuing horse archery as a recreational hobby or competitive sport, you’ll want to consider investing in a stronger, better quality bow that is geared towards the mounted archer. Your own personal goals within the sport, your draw weight, draw length, and personal preference will all play a part in which bow you choose. Below are a few of our favorite bowyers and companies that we feel are reputable and have provided our mounted archery community with quality bows made specifically for our sport:
“I’m proud to be a sponsored athlete of Artisan Bowyer, Attila Keresztes, and encourage you try his amazing custom bows. Attila has designed and built a modern American Horse Bow, called the “Sky Dog” and recently released a newer version of the bow, named the “Dog Soldier.” I’ve been using my SkyDog for over two years, and love how fast and accurate it is. The Vadleány, a Hungarian Horse Bow, is also one of the best-selling horse bows that Attila makes. The craftsmanship of these bows is truly amazing.”
– Kim Butler
Carbon or wood arrows with a 600 spine, feather fletching, and 100 grain field points are typically used for horseback archery. As you gain more experience in the sport, you may want to begin customizing your arrows to better suit your shooting style. This may include changing the weight of the points, the length and number of feathers on your fletching, etc.
ARM GUARDS & SHOOTING GLOVES
Most traditional archery arm guards, shooting gloves, and bow hand gloves are made of leather, but there are several out there that come in all shapes, sizes, colors, and styles! Prices can range anywhere from $10- 75.
HORSE ARCHERY QUIVER
Archery quivers specifically designed for horseback archery are somewhat difficult to find. However, as the sport continues to grow in popularity, leather workers are beginning to see a market for this type of product. Several shops on Etsy.com design beautiful quivers with a starting cost of around $150 (Check out Knavish Designs out of Australia!) There are also individuals within the horse archery community also custom-make their own simpler style of quiver that is suitable for mounted archery. A horse archery quiver is one of the more important pieces of equipment you’ll own; depending on the design, it can either make or break you when speed loading at a competition! When shopping for a quiver, keep in mind you’ll want something that attaches either to your belt, hip, or thigh for easy reach when riding. Traditional back quivers are also becoming popular among horse archers, although they aren’t the most practical for fast loading techniques. Most horse archery quivers range in price from $100-$300)
Small to medium sized toolboxes are fantastic for keeping all your smaller items and accessories organized. Here’s some of the items that I have in MY toolbox:
- COLORED ELECTRICAL TAPE – to wrap fletching edges & identifying your arrows at competition.
- BOW STRING WAX – conditioning your bow string, and helps to hold arrow tips in place.
- EXTRA NOCKS, INSERTS, & FIELD/COMBO POINTS
- NEEDLE NOSE PLIERS – for flaring nocks and much more!
- SHARPIE MARKER
- SUPER GLUE
- TARP BUNGEE(S) – to secure reins to saddle safely, it will break loose if horse should trip, etc.
You’ll be surprised at the random, creative, and just plain weird ideas you’ll come up with for archery targets. Embrace your resourcefulness, but be sure to keep safety a priority, and consider the area in which you are shooting. I’ve used everything from round hay bales, compressed square bales, giant stuffed animals from the thrift store, packed cardboard boxes, bags of shavings (I don’t recommend these… they make a mess!) and homemade zombies made out of empty feed sacks! Realistically though, you’re going to want to invest in a few professional-looking targets that are designed specifically for target archery. Morrell’s 80cm Youth Bag Targets are both affordable and portable, and are ideal for practicing archery practically anywhere. The Morrell Animal Target Faces are another option if you’re looking for something fun and different to shoot at. I recommend stacking hay bales and securing the target face tightly across them with tent pegs, zip-ties, or hay string. FYI – Targets used for rankings and competitions MUST be the standard 80cm in size (90cm for Hungarian targets).