The Jordanian Style Competiton

The Jordanian event was, first and foremost, good fun. It involves starting the 90m run with an arrow nocked and shooting a forward shot at a target placed at 60m. It is a 3 ring target, worth 1,2 or 3 points. This is done with a straight-bladed sword (basically a 1908 pattern sabre with the hand guard removed) held in the drawing (right) hand, so that the blade rests on your upper arm.

Having shot, you swing the sword forward and stab a small round target on the floor. 3 points are awarded for picking the target up but dropping it immediately, 5 for carrying it a few strides and the maximum 7 points for carrying it over the finish line. Bonus points are awarded for scoring hits on both targets.

The Jordanian style was run as part of the oriental event: 3 runs of qabaq and 3 of Jordanian.

Not really a test of horseback archery, this event is immense fun and also makes for great photos. Some people did really well. Thierry Descamps, Daniel Griffin and Marton, whose surname I’m afraid I cannot spell without referring to a piece of paper that I don’t have on me in the aeroplane, all picked up the target every time. I would like to thank Michael Smith and Claire for their help, thanks to which I hit two out of three sword targets. I’m also very grateful to the Jordanian police major who gave me the target to take home.

There are fairly obvious dangers to this style. Most notably, there is then risk of dropping the sword, especially by catching it in the ground. This happened to two competitors (out of 145 runs in the competition). One of these passed off without incident but the second time the sword spun and stabbed the horse in the hind leg. This did not, in the event, cause any serious injury. Clearly it could have done. That said, horseback archery is not exactly devoid of danger at the best of times. Some will say that this event is too dangerous, especially for the horse. Others will disagree. Personally I like it.

For future competitors, I have three pieces of advice:

First, you have to commit to this. I liken it to the first time you make a qabaq shot. It’s no use going at it half-heartedly. You need to get the sword down and get it down early. That’s the second thing. Don’t attempt to stab the target. Simply get the blade down to target level and ride through the target. Almost everyone who tried to stab it went over the top, as I had been told would happen (thanks again Michael).

Finally, you need to work out what to do with your bow. Most people held it up out of the way. I wanted have the option of grabbing the reins or the neck strap. Unfortunately this meant that on my first run I hit myself in the chin with my bow, thereby throwing off my aim and narrowly missing the target. Don’t do that, it hurts and looks silly…

In short, this is a fun event that I cannot wait to do again. I would recommend practising beforehand if you can, even for half an hour or so.

I’ve attached 4 photos. I should say that Din and Juan both picked up the target on other runs, so it’s unfair of me to post these pictures, but I like them as photos. The last one shows Lajos’ sense of humour as he failed to hit at all. In the final he simply rode past the target, saluting the judges with the sword. A class act, that man, and I shall never tire of telling people how I beat him in the Jordanian style, for all that he scored nearly 10 times my points in the remainder of the competition…

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