Modern disciplines of Horseback Archery



  • In the Korean single shot event one arrow is shot at a target perpendicular to the 120m straight track and 5-8m distant.
    In the double shot event the 2 targets are angled so that first a forward and then a backward shot is made.
    In the serial event 5 targets are placed along a 180m track curving round the arena or field, requiring perpendicular shots.
  • The course has an optimum time of 15s (120m) and 20s (180m); a lively canter. Points are gained for going faster than this and lost for going slower. There is no time limit.
    Juniors (under 18) and veterans (over 50) have a longer time limit.
  • The Korean target is square and contains 5 scoring zones. In the serial event bonus points are often gained by hitting 3 successive targets or all 5; zero points are scored if you fail to make 3 hits between the 5 targets.
  • In the Korean event arrows must be carried in a quiver; they cannot be held in the bow hand.
    Normally a thumb release is used to shoot arrows off the right-hand side of the bow.
    The Koreans sometimes use arrows fletched with 2 large feathers, rather than the more usual 3 smaller feathers.
    The Korean rules which the BHAA have recently adopted involve using a FITA 80 target as it is more easily obtained than the Korean ones and there is a maximum speed of 10m/s above which no more points can be gained.

DAN 9027
Gokmen Altinkulp (BHAA champs ’10)


korean target cropped Korean target [Katie Stearns]






  • The 90m track is divided into 3 30m zones demarcated by tall posts; from each zone as many arrows as possible may be shot forwards / sideways / backwards into the appropriate side of the 3 sided target.
  • The 90m run must be covered within 16sec or else the rider is eliminated (this equates to a steady canter). Bonus points are gained by going faster.
  • The length of shot varies between 9m when perpendicular to the middle target, up to 46m at an extreme forwards or backward angle.
  • The scoring zones of the circular targets score differently for each target; with backwards (Parthian) shots scoring highest, then forwards hits, and sideways hits on the middle target scoring least .
  • Arrows are normally held in the left (bow-) hand and shot with a 3-fingered (Mediterranean) release from the left-hand side of the bow

 hungarian track cropped


norbert sharpened 

Norbert Kopczynski (EOCHA ’11)



  • Lajos Kassai designed the Hungarian event described above in the late ‘80s. In recent years Kassai’s own track has been lengthened to 99m which his best students cover in 20sec, shooting as many as 14 arrows at a central target which rotates with them.
  • Sometimes horses are ridden down the course with no saddle or bridle




  • A blunt tipped arrow slowed by being fletched with flu-flus is shot at a 30cm diameter disc atop a 8m pole
  • Maximum points are derived by shooting from directly underneath the target with an extreme position as shown below. Some people lean back and shot from further away, others adopt an intermediate twisted posture.
  • It is expected that one should be riding at gallop and time penalties can be incurred for going slower

DAN 0917 Simone Fezer (EOCHA ’10)

qabaq hit cropped and sharpened qabaq hit [Meg McWhinney]



Mogu (single or team of two)


  • A blunt arrow whose tip has been dipped in ink is used to shoot at a 60cm diameter ball pulled by an opposing team’s member. Ink marks are used to determine direct / glancing hits and therefore the score
  • On the shout of go all competitors ride full speed down the 150 m field
  • The ball, which is made of willow bound into a ball shape and covered with fabric, can bounce erratically on the bumpy ground and shots may be required on left or right, forward or back


mogu resized 

Master Kim [L] and Master Lee [R] (World champs ’09)





  • 3 targets are placed along a straight track 200-250m in length. The targets are placed 50-60m apart on the left-hand side, 5m from and perpendicular to the track, raised on a 2m high pole. The pace of horses varies from a steady canter to fast gallop; the time taken does not affect the score.
  • The target may be either a diamond shaped wooden target 50cm across, or a 30cm diameter earthenware pot. The blunt ended arrow is designed to break the target with a loud noise; as long as the target is broken it proximity of the hit to the target’s centre is not important.
  • The yumi bow is 2.2m long and asymmetric with the upper limb twice the length of the lower limb. The draw weight is usually in the 18-30lb range.
  • Arrows are 1.1m long with a rounded wooden tip; they are carried in the belt.
  • Thumb draw is used and the arrows are shot off the right-hand side of the bow.
  • Yabusame is practised in shrines as a Shinto ceremony. Some schools prohibit the practise of yabusame at shrines other than their own or exchange of skill and knowledge with those outside of their school. A small number of people are becoming more relaxed and even permitting foreigners to participate in competitions
  • Kasagake is an event where variably sized targets are placed on both sides of the track at different heights, angles and different distances from the track. It was designed to help hunting skills


akiko sharpened  Akiko Tsukidate (2011)



Cross-country (Polish event)


  • A longer cross-country track (usually still delineated) involving changes of terrain, ups and downs, right and left turns, and sometimes an obstacle (jump or water) is used.
  • Archery targets may be on both the left and right, at variable distances and heights or even lying flat on the ground. In some competitions normal round targets are used, at others the target is a picture of an animal or 3D foam model.


 Bartosz Ligocki brightenedBartosz Ligocki  (EOCHA ’11)

 Robin DescampsRobin Deschamps (EOCHA ’11)









biga1 Biga '12




Horseback Archery and sabre (Jordanian event)


  • 2012 saw the introduction of the “Jordanian event” to international horseback archery competition where the rider must first shoot an arrow at a target angled towards them and then pick up a small target from the ground with the sabre or sword.
  • For a right-handed archer the bow is held in the left hand; the right thumb pulls the string and the hilt of the sabre is held between ring and little fingers of the right hand with the blade over the upper arm. After shooting an arrow the sabre is swung forward into a ready position. The method of carrying the two weapons in this way was practised by the Mamluks and recorded in an Ottoman horseback archery manual.
  • The time limit of 60m in 10s is such that a steady canter must be maintained; exceed this time and you are disqualified

jordanian track cropped

jordanian1 Frederic Luneau, Al Faris '12

jordanian2 Cemal Hunal, Al Faris '12