Mounted archery

Mounted archery

Discussion
Ask a question about 'Mounted archery'
Start a new discussion about 'Mounted archery'
Answer questions from other users
Full Discussion Forum
 
Encyclopedia

A horse archer, horsed archer, or mounted archer is a cavalry
Cavalry
Cavalry or horsemen were soldiers or warriors who fought mounted on horseback. Cavalry were historically the third oldest and the most mobile of the combat arms...

man armed with a bow
Bow (weapon)
The bow and arrow is a projectile weapon system that predates recorded history and is common to most cultures.-Description:A bow is a flexible arc that shoots aerodynamic projectiles by means of elastic energy. Essentially, the bow is a form of spring powered by a string or cord...

, able to shoot while riding from horseback. Archery
Archery
Archery is the art, practice, or skill of propelling arrows with the use of a bow, from Latin arcus. Archery has historically been used for hunting and combat; in modern times, however, its main use is that of a recreational activity...

 has occasionally been used from the backs of other riding animals. Mounted archery was a defining characteristic of Steppe
Eurasian Steppe
The Eurasian Steppe is the vast steppe ecoregion of Eurasia in the Temperate grasslands, savannas, and shrublands Biome. It stretches from Hungary to Mongolia...

 warfare throughout Central Asia, and throughout the prairie
Prairie
Prairies are considered part of the temperate grasslands, savannas, and shrublands biome by ecologists, based on similar temperate climates, moderate rainfall, and grasses, herbs, and shrubs, rather than trees, as the dominant vegetation type...

s of America after the adoption of the horse, used by peoples including the Scythians, Sarmatians
Sarmatians
The Iron Age Sarmatians were an Iranian people in Classical Antiquity, flourishing from about the 5th century BC to the 4th century AD....

, Parthia
Parthia
Parthia is a region of north-eastern Iran, best known for having been the political and cultural base of the Arsacid dynasty, rulers of the Parthian Empire....

ns, Sassanids
Sassanid army
The birth of the Sassanid army dates back to the rise of Ardashir I , the founder of the Sassanid dynasty, to the throne. Ardashir aimed at the revival of the Persian Empire, and to further this aim, he reformed the military by forming a standing army which was under his personal command and whose...

, Huns
Huns
The Huns were a group of nomadic people who, appearing from east of the Volga River, migrated into Europe c. AD 370 and established the vast Hunnic Empire there. Since de Guignes linked them with the Xiongnu, who had been northern neighbours of China 300 years prior to the emergence of the Huns,...

, Byzantines
Byzantine Empire
The Byzantine Empire was the Eastern Roman Empire during the periods of Late Antiquity and the Middle Ages, centred on the capital of Constantinople. Known simply as the Roman Empire or Romania to its inhabitants and neighbours, the Empire was the direct continuation of the Ancient Roman State...

, Bulgars
Bulgars
The Bulgars were a semi-nomadic who flourished in the Pontic Steppe and the Volga basin in the 7th century.The Bulgars emerge after the collapse of the Hunnic Empire in the 5th century....

, Cumans
Cumans
The Cumans were Turkic nomadic people comprising the western branch of the Cuman-Kipchak confederation. After Mongol invasion , they decided to seek asylum in Hungary, and subsequently to Bulgaria...

, Kipchaks
Kipchaks
Kipchaks were a Turkic tribal confederation...

, Magyars, Japan
Japan
Japan is an island nation in East Asia. Located in the Pacific Ocean, it lies to the east of the Sea of Japan, China, North Korea, South Korea and Russia, stretching from the Sea of Okhotsk in the north to the East China Sea and Taiwan in the south...

ese, Mongols
Mongols
Mongols ) are a Central-East Asian ethnic group that lives mainly in the countries of Mongolia, China, and Russia. In China, ethnic Mongols can be found mainly in the central north region of China such as Inner Mongolia...

, Turks
Turkic peoples
The Turkic peoples are peoples residing in northern, central and western Asia, southern Siberia and northwestern China and parts of eastern Europe. They speak languages belonging to the Turkic language family. They share, to varying degrees, certain cultural traits and historical backgrounds...

, Russians
Russians
The Russian people are an East Slavic ethnic group native to Russia, speaking the Russian language and primarily living in Russia and neighboring countries....

, Rajput
Rajput
A Rajput is a member of one of the patrilineal clans of western, central, northern India and in some parts of Pakistan. Rajputs are descendants of one of the major ruling warrior classes in the Indian subcontinent, particularly North India...

s, Comanche
Comanche
The Comanche are a Native American ethnic group whose historic range consisted of present-day eastern New Mexico, southern Colorado, northeastern Arizona, southern Kansas, all of Oklahoma, and most of northwest Texas. Historically, the Comanches were hunter-gatherers, with a typical Plains Indian...

s, and others. It was also adopted by other peoples and armies, notably Chinese
China
Chinese civilization may refer to:* China for more general discussion of the country.* Chinese culture* Greater China, the transnational community of ethnic Chinese.* History of China* Sinosphere, the area historically affected by Chinese culture...

 and Romans
Roman Empire
The Roman Empire was the post-Republican period of the ancient Roman civilization, characterised by an autocratic form of government and large territorial holdings in Europe and around the Mediterranean....

 who both suffered serious conflict with peoples practising horse archery. It developed separately among the peoples of the South American pampas and the North American prairies; the Comanche
Comanche
The Comanche are a Native American ethnic group whose historic range consisted of present-day eastern New Mexico, southern Colorado, northeastern Arizona, southern Kansas, all of Oklahoma, and most of northwest Texas. Historically, the Comanches were hunter-gatherers, with a typical Plains Indian...

s were especially skilled. Horse archery was also particularly honoured in the samurai
Samurai
is the term for the military nobility of pre-industrial Japan. According to translator William Scott Wilson: "In Chinese, the character 侍 was originally a verb meaning to wait upon or accompany a person in the upper ranks of society, and this is also true of the original term in Japanese, saburau...

 tradition of Japan, where mounted archery is called Yabusame
Yabusame
is a type of mounted archery in traditional Japanese archery. An archer on a running horse shoots three special "turnip-headed" arrows successively at three wooden targets....

. In some places, such as in Germany
Germany
Germany , officially the Federal Republic of Germany , is a federal parliamentary republic in Europe. The country consists of 16 states while the capital and largest city is Berlin. Germany covers an area of 357,021 km2 and has a largely temperate seasonal climate...

, Scandinavia
Scandinavia
Scandinavia is a cultural, historical and ethno-linguistic region in northern Europe that includes the three kingdoms of Denmark, Norway and Sweden, characterized by their common ethno-cultural heritage and language. Modern Norway and Sweden proper are situated on the Scandinavian Peninsula,...

 and Portugal
Portugal
Portugal , officially the Portuguese Republic is a country situated in southwestern Europe on the Iberian Peninsula. Portugal is the westernmost country of Europe, and is bordered by the Atlantic Ocean to the West and South and by Spain to the North and East. The Atlantic archipelagos of the...

, the crossbow
Crossbow
A crossbow is a weapon consisting of a bow mounted on a stock that shoots projectiles, often called bolts or quarrels. The medieval crossbow was called by many names, most of which derived from the word ballista, a torsion engine resembling a crossbow in appearance.Historically, crossbows played a...

 was favoured over composite bow
Composite bow
A composite bow is a bow made from horn, wood, and sinew laminated together. The horn is on the belly, facing the archer, and sinew on the back of a wooden core. Sinew and horn will store more energy than wood for the same length of bow...

. Horse archery was never widely used south of the Sahara
Sahara
The Sahara is the world's second largest desert, after Antarctica. At over , it covers most of Northern Africa, making it almost as large as Europe or the United States. The Sahara stretches from the Red Sea, including parts of the Mediterranean coasts, to the outskirts of the Atlantic Ocean...

 in Africa, where the ecosystem
Ecosystem
An ecosystem is a biological environment consisting of all the organisms living in a particular area, as well as all the nonliving , physical components of the environment with which the organisms interact, such as air, soil, water and sunlight....

 was less suitable for domestic horses. This was presumably due to factors such as the tsetse fly
Tsetse fly
Tsetse , sometimes spelled tzetze and also known as tik-tik flies, are large biting flies that inhabit much of mid-continental Africa between the Sahara and the Kalahari deserts. They live by feeding on the blood of vertebrate animals and are the primary biological vectors of trypanosomes, which...

 and lack of suitable fodder. Though some African kingdoms south of the Sahara used horses, they were less useful and had a high mortality rate in these regions.

Basic features


The natives of large grassland areas developed mounted archery for hunting, and for war. The buffalo hunts of the North American prairies may have been the most spectacular and best-recorded examples of bowhunting
Bowhunting
Bowhunting is the practice of killing game animals by archery. It has been a normal use of archery in every culture that had bows.- Technique :...

 by mounted archers.
Since using a bow requires the rider to let go of the reins with both hands, horse archers need superb equestrian
Equestrianism
Equestrianism more often known as riding, horseback riding or horse riding refers to the skill of riding, driving, or vaulting with horses...

 skills if they are to shoot on the move. It is thought that the Ancient Greeks invented the mythical Centaurs as the perfect union of an archer and a fast moving horseman.

Horse archers may be either light, such as Scythian, Hun, Parthian, Cuman or Pecheneg horsemen; or heavy, such as Byzantine kavallarioi, Russian druzhina and Japanese samurai. Some nations, like Medieval Mongols and Hungarians, fielded both light and heavy cavalry. In some armies, such as Parthians, Teutonic Order and Palmyrans, the mounted part of the army consisted of both super-heavy (cataphracts, knights) and ultra-light cavalry.

In battle, light horse archers were typically skirmisher
Skirmisher
Skirmishers are infantry or cavalry soldiers stationed ahead or alongside a larger body of friendly troops. They are usually placed in a skirmish line to harass the enemy.-Pre-modern:...

s; lightly armed missile troops capable of moving swiftly to avoid close combat or to deliver a rapid blow to the flanks or rear of the foe. In the tactic of the Parthian shot
Parthian shot
The Parthian shot was a military tactic made famous by the Parthians, ancient Iranian people. The Parthian archers, mounted on light horse, would feign retreat; then, while at a full gallop, turn their bodies back to shoot at the pursuing enemy. The maneuver required superb equestrian skills,...

 the rider would retreat from the enemy while turning his upper body and shooting backwards. Due to the superior speed of mounted archers, troops under attack from horse archers were unable to respond to the threat if they did not have ranged weapons of their own. Constant harassment would result in casualties, morale drop and disruption of the formation. Any attempts to charge the archers would also slow the entire army down.

An example comes from an attack on Comanche
Comanche
The Comanche are a Native American ethnic group whose historic range consisted of present-day eastern New Mexico, southern Colorado, northeastern Arizona, southern Kansas, all of Oklahoma, and most of northwest Texas. Historically, the Comanches were hunter-gatherers, with a typical Plains Indian...

 horse archers by Texas Rangers
Texas Ranger Division
The Texas Ranger Division, commonly called the Texas Rangers, is a law enforcement agency with statewide jurisdiction in Texas, and is based in Austin, Texas...

 who were saved by their muzzle-loading firearms and by a convenient terrain feature. Captain John Bird rode up the Little River with fifty Rangers. They met some twenty Comanches hunting buffalo, and attacked them. The Comanches fled, easily keeping clear of the Rangers, for several miles across the open prairie before Bird noticed that he was now chasing some two hundred Indians. He immediately retreated, only to discover his classic error in fighting mounted archers. The Comanches pursued in turn, screaming and loosing what seemed like clouds of arrows. Bird's command happened across a ravine where they could shoot from cover. They fired carefully to keep the Indians at long range, always making sure they kept a few of their rifles loaded in case of an assault. The horse archers did not charge, but kept the Rangers under siege until seven of them, including Captain Bird, were dead or dying. The Rangers retreated to the east and claimed victory. Comanches set out on large-scale raids, destroying and torturing over a wide area.

Heavy horse archers, such as Byzantine kavallarioi, Turkish timariots or Japanese samurai, instead fought as disciplined units. Instead of harassment, they shot at volleys, with intention of weakening the enemy before charging him. The heavy horse archers intended to contact the enemy in melee. In addition to bows, they often also carried close combat weapons, such as lances or spears.

Appearance in history





Early horse archery, depicted on the Assyria
Assyria
Assyria was a Semitic Akkadian kingdom, extant as a nation state from the mid–23rd century BC to 608 BC centred on the Upper Tigris river, in northern Mesopotamia , that came to rule regional empires a number of times through history. It was named for its original capital, the ancient city of Assur...

n carvings, involved two riders, one controlling both horses while the second shot.

One of the few commanders who won his first battle against horse archers was Alexander the Great. He defeated Scythians in 329 BCE at the Battle of Jaxartes
Battle of Jaxartes
The Battle of Jaxartes was a battle fought in 329 BC by Alexander the Great and his Macedonian army against the Scythians at the Syr Darya River - the modern name for the River Jaxartes...

 (the Syr Darya river). Even so, the Jaxartes marked the north-easternmost border of Alexander's realm in Asia, and he never ventured beyond into the heartlands of the horse nomads. Other commanders of heavy troops with few or no archers of their own had often disastrous experiences, including Crassus at the Battle of Carrhae
Battle of Carrhae
The Battle of Carrhae, fought in 53 BC near the town of Carrhae, was a major battle between the Parthian Empire and the Roman Republic. The Parthian Spahbod Surena decisively defeated a Roman invasion force led by Marcus Licinius Crassus...

. The medieval Battle of Liegnitz
Battle of Legnica
The Battle of Legnica , also known as the Battle of Liegnitz or Battle of Wahlstatt , was a battle between the Mongol Empire and the combined defending forces of European fighters that took place at Legnickie Pole near the city of Legnica in Silesia on 9 April 1241.A combined force of Poles,...

 is a classic example of horse archers contributing to the defeat of armoured troops, via demoralization and continued harassment. The Mongol armies used similar tactics to create the enormous Mongol Empire
Mongol Empire
The Mongol Empire , initially named as Greater Mongol State was a great empire during the 13th and 14th centuries...

s from China to Eastern Europe.

Skirmishing requires vast areas of free space to run, manoeuvre and flee, and if the terrain is close, light horse archers can be charged and defeated easily. Light horse archers are also very vulnerable to foot archers and crossbowmen, who can easily outshoot them by shooting on volleys.

The heavy horse archers first appeared in the Assyrian army in the 7th century BC after abandoning the chariot warfare and formed a link between light skirmishing cavalrymen and heavy cataphract
Cataphract
A cataphract was a form of armored heavy cavalry utilised in ancient warfare by a number of peoples in Western Eurasia and the Eurasian Steppe....

 cavalry. The heavy horse archers usually had mail
Mail (armour)
Mail is a type of armour consisting of small metal rings linked together in a pattern to form a mesh.-History:Mail was a highly successful type of armour and was used by nearly every metalworking culture....

 or lamellar armour
Lamellar armour
Lamellar armour was one of three early body armour types made from armour plates. The other two types are scale armour and laminar armour.-Description:...

 and helmets, and sometimes even their horses were armoured. Heavy horse archers, instead of skirmishing and hit-and-run tactics, formed in disciplined formations and units, sometimes intermixed with lancers as in Byzantine and Turkish armies, and shot as volleys instead of shooting as individuals. The usual tactic was to first shoot five or six volleys at the enemy to weaken him and to disorganise them, and then charge. Heavy horse archers often carried spears or lances for close combat, or formed mixed units with lancers.

Heavy horse archers could usually outshoot their light counterparts, and wearing armour, could stand their shooting. The Russian druzhina cavalry developed as a countermeasure for the Tatar light troops. Likewise, the Turkish timariots and qapikulu were often as heavily armoured as Western knights, and could stand the Hungarian, Albanian and Mongol horse archers.

An army could also consist of both heavy and light horse archers, such as the Mongol armies.

The German and Scandinavian Medieval armies made extensive use of mounted crossbowmen. They would act not only as scouts and skirmishers, but also protecting the flanks of the knights and infantry, and chasing away the enemy light cavalry. When the battle was fully engaged, they would charge at the enemy flank, shoot a single devastating volley at point-blank range and then attack the enemy with swords, without reloading. The invention of ratchet cranequin allowed the mounted crossbowmen to use heavy crossbows on horseback.

Decline of mounted archery


Mounted archery was usually ineffective against massed foot archery. The foot archers or crossbowmen could outshoot the horse archers with sheer fire volume by shooting on volleys, and a horseman and a horse provide a larger target than a man alone. The Crusaders countered the Turkoman horse archery with their crossbowmen, and Genoese crossbowmen were favoured mercenaries in both Mamluk and Mongol armies. Likewise the Chinese armies consisted of massed crossbowmen to counter the nomad armies. A nomad army that wanted to engage in an archery exchange with foot archers would itself normally dismount. The typical Mongol archer shot from a sitting position when dismounted.

Horse archers were eventually rendered obsolete by the development of modern firearms. In the 16th and subsequent centuries, various cavalry forces armed with firearms gradually started appearing. Because the conventional arquebus
Arquebus
The arquebus , or "hook tube", is an early muzzle-loaded firearm used in the 15th to 17th centuries. The word was originally modeled on the German hakenbüchse; this produced haquebute...

 and musket
Musket
A musket is a muzzle-loaded, smooth bore long gun, fired from the shoulder. Muskets were designed for use by infantry. A soldier armed with a musket had the designation musketman or musketeer....

 were too awkward for a cavalryman to use, lighter weapons such as the carbine
Carbine
A carbine , from French carabine, is a longarm similar to but shorter than a rifle or musket. Many carbines are shortened versions of full rifles, firing the same ammunition at a lower velocity due to a shorter barrel length....

 had to be developed, that could be effectively used from horseback, much in the same manner as the composite
Composite bow
A composite bow is a bow made from horn, wood, and sinew laminated together. The horn is on the belly, facing the archer, and sinew on the back of a wooden core. Sinew and horn will store more energy than wood for the same length of bow...

 recurve bow
Recurve bow
In archery, the shape of the bow is usually taken to be the view from the side. It is the product of the complex relationship of material stresses, designed by a bowyer...

 presumably developed from earlier bows. The 16th century Dragoons and Carabinier
Carabinier
A Carabinier was originally a cavalry soldier armed with a carbine...

s were heavier cavalry equipped with firearms. Pistols coexisted with the composite bow, often used by the same rider, well into the 17th c. in Eastern European cavalry, including Muscovites, Kalmycks, Turks and Cossacks.

Mounted archery remained an effective tactical system in open country until the introduction of repeating firearms. The Comanche
Comanche
The Comanche are a Native American ethnic group whose historic range consisted of present-day eastern New Mexico, southern Colorado, northeastern Arizona, southern Kansas, all of Oklahoma, and most of northwest Texas. Historically, the Comanches were hunter-gatherers, with a typical Plains Indian...

s of North America found their bows more effective than muzzleloading guns. "After... about 1800, most Comanches began to discard muskets and pistols and to rely on their older weapons."

Technology


The weapon of choice for horse archers was most commonly a composite
Composite bow
A composite bow is a bow made from horn, wood, and sinew laminated together. The horn is on the belly, facing the archer, and sinew on the back of a wooden core. Sinew and horn will store more energy than wood for the same length of bow...

 recurve bow
Recurve bow
In archery, the shape of the bow is usually taken to be the view from the side. It is the product of the complex relationship of material stresses, designed by a bowyer...

, because it was compact enough to shoot conveniently from a horse while retaining sufficient range and penetrating power. North Americans used short wooden bows often backed with sinew, but never developed the full three-layer composite bow.

Modern revival of mounted archery


Mounted archery and associated skills were revived in Mongolia
Mongolia
Mongolia is a landlocked country in East and Central Asia. It is bordered by Russia to the north and China to the south, east and west. Although Mongolia does not share a border with Kazakhstan, its western-most point is only from Kazakhstan's eastern tip. Ulan Bator, the capital and largest...

 after independence in 1921 and are displayed at festivals, in particular the Naadam
Naadam
Naadam is a traditional type of festival in Mongolia. The festival is also locally termed "eriin gurvan naadam" "the three games of men". The games are Mongolian wrestling, horse racing and archery and are held throughout the country during the midsummer holidays...

. Horseback archery has also been revived by Kassai Lajos and other modern Hungarians. European horseback archery as a growing sport and equestrian skill is principally based on the Kassai, or "Hungarian" system. There are several competitions and meetings around the world in any given year – mostly in Hungary, Germany and other Central European countries, but also in Canada (Mt Currie, BC), the United States (notably Fort Dodge in Iowa){The last International Horse Archery Festival in Ft. Dodge was held in 2006, and at the present time there appear to be no plans to revive it} and also in South Korea. Amongst participants of this growing sport there is a dream of one day finding acceptance as a Olympic equestrian event.

The Korean and the Hungarian styles of competition are the two most widely practiced forms.

It is also interesting to note that while the Mongolian horse archers were probably the most feared and successful of all horse archers, the sport is very limited in Mongolia itself today and at most Naadam festivals the archery and horse-riding competitions are conducted independently; the horses are raced with one another, and the archery is traditionally practiced from a standing position rather than mounted. In the past five years a desire to revive the tradition seems to have been addressed with the foundation of the Mongolian Horseback Archery Association whose members have competed in South Korea and Europe.

Kassai school of horseback archery


A horseback archery competition course, as defined by Kassai, is ninetynine meters long. There is one target with a rotating face on the course at its centre point – its diameter is ninety centimeters. An electronic timing system gives the archer a maximum of 20 seconds to cover the course; to encourage speed as well as accuracy, the number of seconds less than 20 is added to the score reached on the targets. Any traditional bow or a modern fiberglass replica can be used, and with the exception of the nocking point, use of any other devices is strictly forbidden.

Please see here for a pictorial presentation of the Competition Course.

Hungarian technique


Originally the Scythians, Mongols and some of the Turkish archers, all used variants of a thumb ring
Thumb ring
A thumb ring is a piece of equipment designed to protect the thumb during archery. This is a ring of leather, stone, horn, wood, ivory, metal, ceramics, plastic, or glass or which fits over the end of the thumb, coming to rest at the outer edge of the outer joint...

 and they released arrows
Bow draw
A bow draw is the method used to draw a bow. Currently, the most common method is the Mediterranean draw, long the usual method in European archery. Other methods include the pinch draw and the Mongolian draw.- Pinch draw or "primary release":...

 from 'inside' the bow. (e.g. for a right-handed archer holding the bow in their left hand, the arrow sits across the left hand's thumb and on the right side of the bow). Kassai however uses the later, Western method of shooting 'around the bow' and a three-fingered release (for a right-handed archer, the arrow rests over the back of the left hand holding the bow, and is released round the left side of the bow).

The bows are generally fairly light (from about 30 – 40 lbs) and Kassai uses carbon arrows rather than the more traditional wooden shafts. The 'release' has been significantly modified from a traditional Western release and involves a rather emphatic extension of the release hand (the right hand in the case of a right-handed archer) after releasing the arrow. This helps balance on horseback by allowing a slower adjustment to the transfer of momentum as the arrow leaves the bow.

For fast shooting, Kassai has developed a technique of holding up to a dozen arrows in the bow-hand from which the archer can reload quickly. Kassai's research has shown that the process of pulling arrows from a back quiver or saddle quiver is too cumbersome and slow - it is not known how the Mongols or their predecessors managed the task as no records remain. Kassai places great emphasis on this technique and can shoot up to 12 arrows in 17.80 seconds, while mounted.

Kassai places great emphasis on horsemanship. The aspiring horseback archer must practice first 'bare-back' (without any saddle) to promote good balance. Once past a certain level the archer may graduate to use a specially modified Eastern Saddle. Previously it was thought that the optimum time to release the arrow was rising in the stirrups at the height of the horse's rise in the canter, but as is regularly demonstrated the archer can shoot without stirrups (although generally the top of the rise, when all four horse's hooves are out of contact with the ground, is still the best point for release.)

Traditional Korean school of horseback archery


Korea has a fine tradition of horseback archery. In 2007 the Korean government passed a law to preserve and encourage development of traditional Korean martial arts - including Horseback Archery.

In Korean archery competitions there are 5 disciplines that are competed separately. The major difference in Korean archery is that all arrows must be stowed somewhere on the archer or horse - unlike Hungarian style where the archer can take the arrows from the bow hand. Traditionally this is a quiver on the right thigh, but it may also be through a belt, a sash, a saddle quiver or even held in a boot or arm quiver.

The first competition is a single shot to the side. The track is 90 metres long (as in the Hungarian method) but carries only one target set back around 5-10m from the track. This has a unique facia - consisting of 5 square concentric rings which increase in point score from the outer to inner, with the inner (often decorated with a 'Tiger' face) being worth the maximum 5 points. Each archer has two passes to complete, each run has to be completed within 16 seconds (or penalty points are incurred).

The next competition is very similar but is known as the 'double shot' which features one target in the first 30m, slightly angled forwards, and a second target in the last 30m, slightly angled backwards.

The final competition for the static targets is the 'serial shot' which consists of 5 targets evenly spaced along a 110m track - approximately one target every 20 metres or so. In all 3 static target competitions additional bonus points are awarded for style and form.

Please see here for a pictorial presentation of the >> Korean track.

Another major difference in Korean archery style is the 'Mogu' or moving target competition. This consists of one rider towing a large cotton-and-bamboo ball behind their horse while another archer attempts to shoot the ball (with special turnip-headed arrows which have been dipped in ink). The archer attempts to hit the ball as many times as possible. A second 'Mo Gu' event consists of a team of two trying to hit the target towed by a third rider. Points are awarded for how many arrows strike the ball (verified by the ink stains on the Mogu).

Traditional Japanese horseback archery


The history of Japanese horseback archery dates back to the 4th century. It became popular in Japan, attracting crowds; because of its solemn and sacred nature the Emperor found this inappropriate and banned public displays in 698. Horseback archery was a widely-used combat technique from the Heian Period
Heian period
The is the last division of classical Japanese history, running from 794 to 1185. The period is named after the capital city of Heian-kyō, or modern Kyōto. It is the period in Japanese history when Buddhism, Taoism and other Chinese influences were at their height...

 to the Sengoku Period
Sengoku period
The or Warring States period in Japanese history was a time of social upheaval, political intrigue, and nearly constant military conflict that lasted roughly from the middle of the 15th century to the beginning of the 17th century. The name "Sengoku" was adopted by Japanese historians in reference...

. Nasu no Yoichi
Nasu no Yoichi
' was a samurai who fought alongside the Minamoto clan in the Genpei War. He is particularly famous for his actions at the Battle of Yashima in 1184. According to the Heike Monogatari, the enemy Taira placed a fan atop the mast of one of their ships, claiming it protected the ship from arrows, and...

, a samurai
Samurai
is the term for the military nobility of pre-industrial Japan. According to translator William Scott Wilson: "In Chinese, the character 侍 was originally a verb meaning to wait upon or accompany a person in the upper ranks of society, and this is also true of the original term in Japanese, saburau...

 of the Kamakura Period
Kamakura period
The is a period of Japanese history that marks the governance by the Kamakura Shogunate, officially established in 1192 in Kamakura by the first shogun Minamoto no Yoritomo....

 is the most famous horseback archer in Japan. Three kinds of Japanese horseback archery (Kasagake, Yabusame
Yabusame
is a type of mounted archery in traditional Japanese archery. An archer on a running horse shoots three special "turnip-headed" arrows successively at three wooden targets....

, and Inuoumono) were defined.

When the arquebus
Arquebus
The arquebus , or "hook tube", is an early muzzle-loaded firearm used in the 15th to 17th centuries. The word was originally modeled on the German hakenbüchse; this produced haquebute...

 was introduced to Japan in the 16th century, archery became outdated. To maintain traditional Japanese horseback archery, Tokugawa Yoshimune
Tokugawa Yoshimune
was the eighth shogun of the Tokugawa shogunate of Japan, ruling from 1716 until his abdication in 1745. He was the son of Tokugawa Mitsusada, the grandson of Tokugawa Yorinobu, and the great-grandson of Tokugawa Ieyasu.-Lineage:...

, the eighth Tokugawa shogun
Shogun
A was one of the hereditary military dictators of Japan from 1192 to 1867. In this period, the shoguns, or their shikken regents , were the de facto rulers of Japan though they were nominally appointed by the emperor...

, ordered the Ogasawara clan
Ogasawara clan
The was a Japanese samurai clan descended from the Seiwa Genji. The Ogasawara acted as shugo of Shinano province in the medieval period The was a Japanese samurai clan descended from the Seiwa Genji. The Ogasawara acted as shugo (governors) of Shinano province in the medieval period The was a...

 to found a school. Current Japanese horseback archery succeeds to the technique reformed by the Ogasawara clan.

Traditionally, women were barred from performing in yabusame, but in 1963 female archers participated in a yabusame demonstration for the first time.

See also

  • Camel archer
    Camel archer
    Camel archers are marksmen wielding bows mounted on camels. They took their popularity in the Crusades, used in Arabia, Asian and Eurasian countries. Saladin, the leader of Arabia from 1174 to 1193, was known, or rather believed to use camels as a substitute for other ways of transport, such as the...

  • Horse people
  • Eurasian nomads
    Eurasian nomads
    Eurasian nomads are a large group of peoples of the Eurasian Steppe. This generic title encompasses the ethnic groups inhabiting the steppes of Central Asia, Mongolia, and Eastern Europe. They domesticated the horse, and their economy and culture emphasizes horse breeding, horse riding, and a...

  • Nomadic empires
  • Parthian shot
    Parthian shot
    The Parthian shot was a military tactic made famous by the Parthians, ancient Iranian people. The Parthian archers, mounted on light horse, would feign retreat; then, while at a full gallop, turn their bodies back to shoot at the pursuing enemy. The maneuver required superb equestrian skills,...

  • Cataphract
    Cataphract
    A cataphract was a form of armored heavy cavalry utilised in ancient warfare by a number of peoples in Western Eurasia and the Eurasian Steppe....

  • Archery
    Archery
    Archery is the art, practice, or skill of propelling arrows with the use of a bow, from Latin arcus. Archery has historically been used for hunting and combat; in modern times, however, its main use is that of a recreational activity...

  • Composite bow
    Composite bow
    A composite bow is a bow made from horn, wood, and sinew laminated together. The horn is on the belly, facing the archer, and sinew on the back of a wooden core. Sinew and horn will store more energy than wood for the same length of bow...

  • Recurve bow
    Recurve bow
    In archery, the shape of the bow is usually taken to be the view from the side. It is the product of the complex relationship of material stresses, designed by a bowyer...

  • Hungarian bow
  • Turkish bow
    Turkish bow
    The Turkish bow is a recurved composite bow used in the Ottoman Empire.The construction was that of the classic Asiatic composite bow, with a wooden core , animal horn on the side facing the archer, and sinew on the back. Animal glue held it together...

  • Mongol bow
    Mongol bow
    The Mongol bow is a recurved composite bow renowned for its military effectiveness. The old Mongolian bows that were used during the times of Genghis Khan were smaller than the modern weapons used at most Naadam festivals today. Modern Mongolian bows are larger and have string bridges...

  • Yabusame
    Yabusame
    is a type of mounted archery in traditional Japanese archery. An archer on a running horse shoots three special "turnip-headed" arrows successively at three wooden targets....

  • Sagittarii
    Sagittarii
    Sagittarii Sagitarii is the latin term for archers. The term sagittariorum in the title of an infantry or cavalry unit indicated a specialized archer regiment. Regular auxiliary units of foot and horse archers appeared in the Roman army during the early empire...

  • Horses in East Asian warfare
    Horses in East Asian warfare
    Horses in East Asian warfare are inextricably linked with the strategic and tactical evolution of armed conflict. A warrior on horseback or horse-drawn chariot changed the balance of power between civilizations....


Further reading



External links