We use only traditional recurved composite bows. Bows cannot be compound nor have a mechanical trigger. I would not recommend long bows or any type of bow with an arrow shelf (arrow shelves are also forbidden in many competitions). The bow should be able to compensate for an overdraw with a range of 30 to 45 pounds. A higher poundage can be used, and some riders prefer it. However, a higher poundage bow will fatigue your arms much more quickly, which makes it harder to consistently pull a full draw. Because the farthest shot on any competition course does not exceed 45 meters, 30 to 45 pounds is plenty.
Here is a pic of a few bows I have:
I recommend the cheap Fiberglas Bear Bows from any Joe’s or sporting goods store for training new horses and for beginners and children. Kassai, Toth, Grozer, and SKB all make good horseback archery bows. There are also many good bows coming out of Korea now. However, my favorite bows are from Saluki Bow Company and are made Lukas Novotny.
Aluminum or carbon fiber (woven or spiral, no straight fibers, because of possible splintering) arrows are best. However, it has been my experience that well made bamboo arrows shoot just as well as carbon fiber. A feather fletching is essential for mounted archery; plastic vanes are not suitable. Plastic vanes will misdirect an arrow if shot on the index feather side, due to their stiffness. Because there is no time to make sure your arrows and knocked on the right side, feathered fletchings give you more accuracy even if shot on the index feather. Feathers are also softer on your hand. When learning to shoot without an arrow shelf, many will accidentally use their hand as a shelf, and get fletching burns or cuts.
Depending on the bow, recommended arrows often have a spine weight of 45 to 50, and tips should be field points of 75 to 85 grams. If you are not sure, check to make sure you have arrows that are compatible with your bow at an archery shop.
Mogu arrows must have a blunted tip, with no field point attached under the covering. Bunny thumpers and bird blunts are also ok, but I make a foam tipped arrow for beginners. I sometimes do plastic vanes on mogu arrows, because they are cheaper. Mogu arrows run a much higher risk of being stepped on by horses, so I go with inexpensive shafts and fletchings.
Thumb Protection / Finger Protection
Most mounted archers I know prefer the thumb draw, because of the incredibly fast shooting you can accomplish with it. However, there are also many archers who prefer the three finger draw as well. All draw styles are fine for horseback archery. I believe hitting the target is what matters.
Different kinds of thumb protection include:
- Thumb Ring – Used for hundreds of years, and has proven to be great protection against sore thumbs. Thumb rings also help to give a clean release of the string.
- Thumb Glove (or as Barb calls them, “Thumb Socks”) – Still good protection, and much like using your bare finger as far as release.
- Three Finger Glove (for three finger draw).
- Good Old Athletic Tape, and Band Aids – Only usable once, but good for a days worth of practice. nice cheap solution to thumb comfort. I don’t think I need to put in a picture of this…
Some competitions require that you shoot from a quiver, others require that you shoot from your hand. I always practice both. There are many quiver styles, I have two.
Here are two of my quivers: