August saw the arrival of the 5th International Horse Archery Competition in Sokcho, Korea. Competitors travelled from the UK, the USA, Poland, Switzerland, Germany, Malaysia, Japan, Mongolia and Iran all looking for medals!
The BHAA was represented by Neil Payne and Jehad Shamis although the UK also had independent competitor in Mike Ashington.
After a few days of rain, the weather turned hot, humid, sweaty and very uncomfortable for the competition. Not only were the archers hot and bothered rapidly but also the horses. The competition followed the usual format of the Korean style track (single, double and multiple shots) and Mogu. Although it was thought that the Hungarian/European style of competition would be adopted this did not materialise.
Day two was meant to see the implementation of a new “competition” termed the Grand-Prix which was to combine two gallops at a double target (Korean style) with two gallops at a Hungarian/European target. The combination of the points to be added to decide who the best archer of the compeition was. However, with horses dropping like flies this was soon cancelled. To replace it, the organisers decided to add all the points from previous competitions to decide who this would be. Mike Ashington achieved second place which is no mean feat!
The UK team, other than Mike’s success, faired poorly on the medals front with Poland and Korea seemingly getting all the glory. We did however gain bronze medal in the team event which was essentially a double target gallop from all teams.
The event was yet another success and is testament to the great work the Koreans are doing to develop the sport. This competiton above all is probably the best one can find in terms of quality of competitors, facilities and above all friendships.
However, one point the author has deducted from now attending a few competitions is that the format of competitions is stale. We need new types or styles of competitions to test people’s horse archery skills, both the archery and the horsemanship. At present, horse archers are concentrating on the two styles of competition and becoming too accustomed to the format and make-up of the track or course.
In Poland they tried a new style of course earlier this year which combined obstacles, shooting and timing. Neil Payne of the Tuba Archery Club is already working on some new styles including the Qabaq game, a more testing version of the Korean style and a cross-country track (which it is believed has been tried already in Canada by Barb Leeson). Let’s hope other countries start to adopt their own type of competition(s) to add some colour to the horse archery competitions and also end the monopoly of the Hungarian style introduced by Kassai Lajos.
In the meantime, let’s all get practising again in preperation for Korea 2010!