Needed Equipment for Horseback Archery
There are only three things you really need in order to do mounted archery: a horse, a bow, and some arrows.
However, not just any bow and arrows will work. Plus, there are some additional accessories that will not only make your life easier, but also help keep you safe so you can just focus on having fun.
Check out the list of mounted archery equipment below to see my recommendations for what you’ll need to get started.
- Horse archery bows
- Rein keepers
- Riding helmet
- Arm guards
- Thumb ring / Finger tab
- Horse archery quiver
Horse Archery Bows
The only requirements for horse archery bows is that they must be traditional bows. This means no wheels, pulleys, cams, multiple cables, or arrow shelves — which means no compound bows and no modern recurve bows.
Other than the fact that the bow must be traditional, there are typically no other rules related to the bow. You can have any draw weight on your bow and any style (Turkish, Hungarian, etc).
However, can and should are two very different things.
Finding a Bow that Fits
First of all, shorter bows are generally preferred as they are easier to maneuver with when on horseback.
Second, you’ll want a mounted archery bow with a good draw weight for you (Draw weight refers to how hard it is to pull the string back). The higher the draw weight, the faster and further the arrow would go, but the harder it will be to pull.
For reference, I’m a young adult, female, with little to no upper body strength and prefer my 20lb bow. I also have a 28lb and can pull it, but I will tire out quickly when using that bow and can not fire it as quickly (which is important for mounted archery). However, I wouldn’t go below 15lbs for fear that you might start struggling to get your arrows to reach the targets.
If possible, I would recommend stopping in your local archery shop to try out a few different bows with different draw weights. If you can’t decide between two draw weights, I would go with the lighter option. A bow that has too high of a draw weight for you will quickly lead to frustration and tends to cause people to give up on the sport.
I personally use a 20lb Crimean Tatar bow. I’ll be perfectly honest, I didn’t chose the bow for any particular specs or performance advantages. It was the only type of bow that my instructor had available when I first started learning mounted archery, and I liked it, so I stuck with it.
Where to Buy a Horseback Archery Bow
Alibow is a popular place recommended to me by other mounted archers for buying mounted archery bows. Unfortunately though, it’s based in China. They have fantastic quality bows. It can just take a while to arrive in the United States. However, there are a few archery shops in the United States that import them in a regular basis and keep them in stock. You probably won’t save any money between ordering from Alibow or ordering from a US archery shop, but you’ll probably receive the bow sooner if you order from a US-based archery shop. Personally, I got my bow from Tennessee Valley Archery.
Arrows for Mounted Archery
Obviously, a bow isn’t much use without arrows. Actually, it’s really bad for the bow if you pull the string and let go without an arrow on it (referred to as dry firing). Dry firing a bow can cause the bow to break — even shatter. Given that the bow is one of the more expensive pieces of equipment on this list, dry firing your bow can hurt the bank (not to mention the archer).
Despite the firm rule about needing a traditional bow, you DON’T need traditional wooden arrows (although you can get arrows that look wooden if you want that traditional looking aesthetic). Actually mounted archers rarely use traditional wood or bamboo arrows because it’s hard to make multiple arrows exactly the same — meaning some of your arrows might fly a little different than others which makes it hard to be consistent and accurate (two key components to being successful in this sport).
When it comes to arrows, you can get really in depth with choices. For those just getting into archery, there are two main things I would look for in arrows — they’re made of carbon or aluminum, and have feather fletchings instead of plastic.
Before I got into mounted archery, I purchased Black Eagle’s vintage arrows (carbon arrows that look like wood) to use for my modern recurve bow, so I often just use those for mounted archery competitions. However, those arrows are a bit expensive so I prefer to practice with some cheaper ones I get off Amazon.
Rein Keeper for Horseback Riding
Arm Guard for Archery
Thumb Ring or Finger Tab
Horse Archery Quiver