The pounding of hooves mingled with the thud of arrows striking the truth, and the applause that accompanied it afterwards, as a team of mounted archers demonstrated ancient martial skill to guests of the Washington State Horse Expo this weekend.
The Brush Prairie-based Volcano Ridge Mounted Archers Association hosted the exhibit.
Gabrielle Massie, owner of the Arrowhead Acres ranch, where archers train, said on Sunday the group held demonstrations along the Columbia River Gorge and for 4-H groups, as well as now regular appearances at the annual show. state horses.
One of the biggest parts of the group’s work, beyond training future riders and re-educating horses, is reminding people that this tradition still exists.
“Until you see it, a lot of people don’t know it’s a real thing,” she said. “We come from the bow. It’s not new, but it’s new to us as an organized and safe sport.
Runners shoot 30 to 35 pound recurve bows, without an arrow rest. Volcano Ridge has around 50 members, she said, all of different skill levels.
About 70 percent of the people she’s met come from horseback riding, while the other 30 start out as archers.
Being part of the club gives access to the booth and to the monthly guided practices. They maintain an organized training and tiering system, Massie said, because mounted archers are only as good as riders, and vice versa.
“I really want this to be something we’re known for,” she said. “It’s not just about being pretty on your horses, you have to know how to ride.
Katie Stearns rides with the broken arrow mounted archers in Arlington and joined the demonstration on Sunday.
Stearns taught Massie and others after entering the sport in 2005.
She majored in archeology at university and has always been interested in medieval history and war. She has also been riding horses since her childhood.
When she went looking for a bow for her historic hobby of European martial arts, he came up with a book by a contemporary Hungarian horse archery expert. She brought it to her archery shop and learned that a mounted archery shop was coming to her town.
Stearns had done other horse fights before, but something about archery was different.
“You must have a lot more connection with your horse, and I really liked that. You need to be able to separate your upper and lower body completely. “The lower body is riding, the upper body is archery. And it’s much more difficult, ”she said.
She was addicted. She has since competed in international competitions, straddling Korea, Jordan, Turkey, Mongolia and Hungary.
“The feeling when you finally go into a gallop, and shoot, and release the arrow, and you hit your target, and that’s all that movement – that’s one of the best feelings in the world. ”