How can I get into horseback archery?

Please see the clubs & schools page to see if there is a BHAA club or school close to you.
All BHAA coaches and hba instructors at BHAA affiliated schools must hold a BHAA coaching qualification – this is akin to a quality assurance mark for horseback archery tuition and safety standards. This system is internationally recognised and there are 3 levels of coaching expertise (club, intermediate and advanced). All BHAA coaches will be able to assist you in taking your horseback archery qualifications and doing IHAA grades and postal matches. 
The BHAA publishes a manual which can assist you in your progression through the sport and in gaining your practical hba qualifications. We strongly suggest that it is used in conjunction with practical tuition from a qualified BHAA coach.

Will my horse be able to participate in horseback archery?

All types of horses can be suitable for horseback archery – any age, breed or type, any size. It is a great sport for horses that are retired from more physically taxing disciplines as most of our tracks are on a straight track. There is guidance in our manual on training a horse for horseback archery – the key is in careful desensitisation and positive reinforcement. Some useful videos can be found on YouTube (for example this one , Katie is an American horsearcher and there are several useful videos – parts 1, 2 and 3 on training Bella and training Luna for horseback archery) No specialist tack is required for horseback archery. There are specialist horseback archery saddles that some people like to use and many favour bitless riding – however there are few set rules other than the requirement for horses to have an unrestricted head carriage.

What archery equipment do I need and what is the cost?

A short-medium length bow with no arrow rest is required for horseback archery; the vast majority use a horsebow, which come in various styles and lengths. We strongly recommend that those new to archery use a lightweight bow (i.e. one that doesn’t require much strength to pull) so that you can develop good technique without fighting against a heavy draw weight. The Rolan junior (48″) snake bow is inexpensive (<£40), shoots quite accurately and the small arrow rest can easily be covered by sports wrap (tape for wrapping racquet handles). It’s really important to get feather fletched arrows which can be shot off the hand without either influencing the trajectory of the arrow or hurting your hand – you will need to ask an archery shop specifically for these as most arrows are fletched with plastic vanes – aluminium arrows are ideal (such as Easton Jazz or Tribute, and get them a little longer than you think you need). An armguard is also essential to protect against a bruised forearm, and tape (eg elastoplast tape) to protect your fingers or thumb.Once you’ve decided that you enjoy horseback archery and are ready to move up to a better quality bow with a heavier draw weight there are lots of options; by then you should have an idea of your preference in bow length, type and draw weight. Archery shops will generally stock a few types of horsebows which you may be able to try (such as Freddie bows or the Samick SKB) and you can buy nice bows online eg. Alibow. Steer clear of eBay unless you know exactly what you’re shopping for. For those who are experienced archers, or looking for equipment that will give them a competitive advantage there are some lovely bows available, plus carbon arrows, but we wouldn’t recommend them for beginners. There is more advice in the manual on equipment for all standards of horseback archer. 

We recommend doing archery with tuition from a qualified archery or horseback archery instructor, on a range which has been properly set-up and risk assessed.
Archery and horseback archery have the potential to cause serious injury, however proper training, well maintained equipment and close attention to safe practices can make it a safe and enjoyable sport.

What is the BHAA’s policy on safety helmets?

The BHAA requires everyone participating in our training and competitions, and all those representing GB abroad, to wear a safety helmet while mounted. The benefit of helmets in protecting against head injury in the event of falls from horseback is well recognised. Those wearing turbans are exempt from these rules but participate in our sessions at their own risk. Horseback archery is an international sport and you will likely see photos and videos of people riding without helmets in other countries with different riding cultures. The IHAA (our international hba federation) requires all juniors to wear helmets in competition, and it is now commonplace for adults to wear them in international competitions. 

What competitions are there in the UK?

Many clubs hold competitions locally – these are open to BHAA members who hold their club horseback archer qualification (some more advanced events may require people to have higher qualifications to satisfy our risk assessments and insurance requirements). 
The National Championships is an annual competition held in the late summer. Places are awarded on application: everyone must hold the intermediate horseback archer qualification and places will be awarded to the applicants with the highest IHAA grade.

Tell me more about the BHAA qualifications:

The BHAA qualifications are similar to the BHS stages but designed to assess all facets of horseback archery: equine knowledge, riding, archery and horseback archery knowledge and expertise.
The club horseback archer qualification is like a basic competency certificate to show that you have a sufficient grounding in horseback archery to safely participate in club sessions without the close supervision of an instructor, or to compete.
There are more advanced qualifications (intermediate and advanced), and you can view the syllabus and logbooks here . They are a great focus for the horseback archer who wishes to further their knowledge and expertise, and they open doors for those wishing to compete on more advanced tracks.

I’m a riding instructor / own a riding school and would like to start offering horseback archery. How do I go about this?

Please get in touch with us at [email protected] – we have grants available to support new coaches and schools getting into horseback archery

How can I compete abroad?

The BHAA is the governing body for horseback archery in the UK and selects teams for IHAA competitions (please see below for more information).
Other competitions abroad are open to anyone. If members have questions about travelling to compete then BHAA coaches and committee members will be able to help.

What are the selection criteria for a place on the GB team?

You must be a current BHAA member and hold the BHAA Intermediate horseback archer qualification. We use IHAA grading as our main selection tool.

I live in Northern Ireland…

You are very welcome to apply to compete either for GB or for Ireland – please get in touch with us or with Horse Archery Ireland. Please note that you may only compete for one or the other in any given year and please give us a year’s notice if you have previously competed for Ireland but now wish to ride for GB.

Eligibility to compete in hba for GB:

The IHAA Rules (General rules 1) explain our rules on determining a competitor’s nationality. You may apply for the GB team if you have a British passport or have been a permanent resident in the UK for at least a year (permanent residence counts as living in the UK for at least 9 months of the year).
If you have previously competed for another country (ie competed in IHAA WC, IHAA EC, IHAA eGP, IHAA wGP, WHAC or KHOW for another country) then you need to let us know you wish to change your country of representation to Great Britain 12 months in advance.
You may only compete for 1 country in a calendar year. 

What is the IHAA?

The IHAA is the International Horseback Archery Alliance; the leading international federation for horseback archery which is affiliated to FITE (who manage the minor horse sports on behalf of FEI). The IHAA rulebook is published and freely available for download [] and contains both general rules for our sport as well detailed specifications for the set-up, running and scoring of specific tracks. 
The BHAA is the IHAA’s member association for the UK and works to enable BHAA members to participate in all the IHAA has to offer – competitions, grading, postal matches, judge qualification. There are over 30 member countries in the IHAA and individuals from the BHAA have played a central role in developing and running the IHAA since it was formed in 2003.