Turkish Style

The “Turkish style” was one part of the oriental event (the other being the Jordanian). Turkish style consist of two shots, each using a blunt arrow with flu-flu fletchings.

The second shot is a standard qabaq shot (upwards at a target on an 8m high pole 60m from the start – see photos). More points are awarded for using the twisting qabaq technique rather than just shooting upwards.

The first shot is on the ground, 15m along the track on the left hand side (for a right-hander) and angled so that you have to shoot backwards. More points are awarded for a Jarmaki shot, which involves shooting with the drawing hand behind the head.

I have always loved qabaq. It’s fun, it’s beautiful and, in training at least, I can do it (I’ve yet to hit in competition but hardly ever miss in practice…). Now one of the things about qabaq is that you have bags of time to nock the arrow. Even if you are going at a flat gallop you have a good 4s to nock and shoot. The qabaq is a test of accuracy and, if done traditionally, it should be performed at full pace.

The addition of the Jarmaki style changes that in ways more subtle than just adding the need to shoot backwards. Suddenly you don’t have 60m to nock, you only have about 40m once you’ve shot backwards at the Jarmaki target. Shooting at the Jarmaki itself only gives you about 20m to nock and make what is frankly a pretty easy shot (I didn’t try putting my hand behind my head – 2 lots of surgery on a dislocating shoulder do not allow for that sort of thing).

The net result of this is that nocking speed is of critical importance. I dislike this fact.

Don’t misunderstand me: I believe that a horseback archer should be able to nock and shoot quickly. This skill, however, is amply tested by the Korean style (especially if you do the triple shot rather than single), the Hungarian style and mogu. Qabaq did not require nocking speed, it was, as I said, a test of accuracy alone, albeit upwards. At Al Faris, only the Jordanian style did not require quick nocking, and even that needs you to swing a sword into position fairly swiftly.

If one is to have the Jarmaki shot on the same run as the qabaq, I should like to propose a change: allow more time. This requires only two minor amendments to the Al Faris rules. First, put the qabaq pole 60m from the Jarmaki target. Second, either allow nocking before the line or use a long track and put the Jarmaki target 50-60m along it. This would return the event to its original skill requirements. Might try that next time I organise an event…

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