When members of the Heart of a Warrior Mounted Archery Club area leave today (Wednesday) to travel to Lewisburg, Tennessee for the competition, they will likely be thinking of someone special for them and many members of the Warren County community – Peggy Richardson.
Richardson, who worked for many years with Warren County Economic Development, recently passed away. For members of the local mounted archery club, however, thoughts of her involve much more than a friendly face at the economic development office or in the community. That’s why the team is dedicating the weekend’s competition to his memory.
Erin Erickson of Warrenton, who runs the nonprofit Rockin’ Riders of Rockin’ E Ranch youth equestrian program, met Richardson after moving to Warren County in 2005. Richardson and her daughter, Rachel, visited few time after Erickson’s arrival in Warren County. Rachel was interested in horses and Erickson taught her how to ride.
The three have developed a strong bond. Erickson said Richardson helped her learn about the community, taking her under his wing and helping her feel at home in her new home county. Erickson also noted that Richardson was instrumental in helping him grow his nonprofit organization. Erin and Rachel remain close friends.
Local members of Heart of a Warrior Mounted Archery competed in four competitions last year, and will compete in five this year. They traveled to Tennessee, Florida and Virginia Beach. This year, Erickson will also compete in California.
Members competing in the weekend competition in Tennessee include Erickson, Claira Broce and Caleb Willis from Norlina, Gia Giambruno from Wake Forest and Arwen Adams from Beaverdam, Va.
Many people enjoy horse riding or the challenge of archery. But can you imagine shooting a bow and arrow while riding a horse at full stride?
Local equestrian enthusiasts have discovered that they love the sport. However, as you would expect, they train regularly to maintain their skills. Since competitions are held in a number of states, events are scheduled throughout the year.
Local team members get together with Virginia team members to train regularly, sometimes in North Carolina and sometimes in Virginia, to keep them in top shape, but not so often that the horses are overworked .
As competition approaches, they “train with intention,” as Erickson described it, in order to prepare for the challenges they will face during competition.
The weekend’s competition will feature two courses: a 500 meter hunter course, more akin to a long trail, and a 90 meter track course. Each course has a set number of targets at different heights: multi-round targets, standard round targets and ground targets. Adding to the challenge, the targets are located at different angles. Runners have a set time limit to complete the course. The length and layout of the course will determine how many times they can shoot each target.
After arriving in Tennessee, competition participants will have a mandatory training day to allow them and the horses to acclimatize to the courses. The competition will take place on Saturday and Sunday.
Local members of the Heart of a Warrior Mounted Archery will work to accumulate enough points to be ranked nationally. Scores are accumulated for two years. Once this time has elapsed, the process begins again.
After this weekend, local equestrian enthusiasts will turn their attention to July’s competition in Virginia Beach, Virginia.
The region’s interest in mounted archery continues to grow and the sport is gaining popularity around the world. Overseas, children as young as 8 or 9 years old compete.
Now Warren County takes its place among the regions known for mounted archery.
For more information on mounted archery, visit the Rockin’ E Ranch Facebook page, visit heartofawarriorinc.com, or search online for Mounted Archers of the Americas or the International Horse Archery Association of the Americas.