GB v Sweden – International Horseback Archery in Britain!

Well, it’s been quite a while since my last post, when I finished my series on bow mechanics.  I’ve had feedback from quite a few people saying how helpful they found it, so thank you for the feedback.

The original purpose of this blog was to chart our travels in the world of horseback archery but this weekend we had a genuinely new experience: another country travelling here to compete.  A team from Sweden, led by my friend Emil Eriksson whom I met in Jordan last year, travelled to the Centre of Horseback Combat in sunny Hertfordshire for the first international horseback archery match ever on British soil.  After day 1, consisting of qabaq and Hungarian styles, Sweden led GB by 0.1pts (the equivalent of one horse running 0.1s faster over 90m in just one of the 36 runs each team had completed that day!).  On day 2 they blew us away on the Korean and  Mamluk courses to win by just over 100 points.

It goes without saying that a great time was had by all.  The Swedish team were a pleasure to shoot with and I was delighted to see good performances from several GB team members.  I shall be writing a few posts about various aspects of the match.  In this first one I shall say a few words about the concept of the International Series.

We have wanted to host an international competition for some time.  There was talk of trying to host EOCHA in 2012 to coincide with the London Olympics but ultimately we in Britain suffer from a severe lack of trained horses and this makes the Open format impossible.  It was Claire’s genius to hit on the idea of a simple match: GB v another country.  This way we need fewer matches and we can try to combat another problem that we have had in the past: the fact that we are so spread out around the country that we rarely meet.  This event has given us the opportunity to build some real team spirit.

In the event, GB fielded two teams.  This allowed us to expose more of our people to international competition and the overwhelming feedback that we got was along the lines of “everybody is so friendly that you hardly notice that we are on different teams”.  As those who compete internationally will know, that is how things always are.  I well remember Jordan last year when impromptu coaching sessions would just pop up as competitors helped each other with everything from archery techniques to fitting of tack and helping to repair broken equipment.  The attitude of most people in this sport has always been to ensure that everybody scores as highly as they can, whether they beat you or not.

This event was funded by the GB team.  I should like to thank all of them for competing and the Centre for providing the venue, horses and staff at a greatly reduced rate to make it affordable.  The next step is to secure sponsorship to enable this to turn into a regular series, with different nations bringing their experience to these shores.  Something new has started.  Now we just have to keep it going…

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