Into the Wild
By Alex Jacks | Photography courtesy of Serena Lynn, JBeatty Photography and Leah Earle Photography
Swish. Thump. Clop. Swish. Thump. Clop. Serena Lynn gallops down a track, releasing arrows from her bow, letting them pierce through the air only to land at the center of a bull’s eye. She continues down a brushy trail, her horse stepping carefully as she pulls another arrow from her quiver, preparing herself for the next target.
Lynn, the chapter liaison for the Mounted Archery Association of the Americas and chapter leader for the South Texas Archery Riders, works each day to promote an emerging equestrian sport — mounted archery.
Mounted archery is exactly as it sounds. A horse and rider team up to take on a series of bull’s eyes positioned around a track, Lynn said.
“It is completely different from traditional archery,” she said. “It is more instinctual and not as proper as what you see on the Olympics. We use traditional bows, without a shelf or a riser.”
The Mounted Archery Association of the Americas (MA3) serves as the oldest mounted archery association in the country, Lynn said.
“We’ve existed for 12 years,” she said. “The founding members started MA3 by hosting small clinics across the U.S. The group completed non-profit association paperwork in 2010 to gain the official status.”
The organization currently has about 300 active members and 12 affiliated chapters across the country, one of those being Lynn’s chapter, the South Texas Archery Riders in New Braunfels, Texas. Chapters exist to raise awareness about mounted archery to the general public, host clinics and competitions for members, and teach those who want to learn more about the sport.
“I started this chapter because I wanted to be with an organization that was dedicated to making this a sport — something that could grow,” Lynn said.
To begin learning mounted archery, Lynn highly recommends having your own horse or one that has bonded with you. Some instructors will teach using their own horses.
“There’s no specific breed or color or any particular type of horse that is best, but it does need a calm personality and not be over-reactive,” she said.
When Lynn begins to teach someone mounted archery, she likes to break up the training sessions.
“During the first session, I always suggest you don’t bring your horse,” she said. “I like to have people come out and let me introduce them to the bow and equipment, and go over all of the details of the sport. Then I teach them how to shoot.”
Lynn allows clients to bring their horses during the second session, but still has them shooting at targets from the ground.
“I like to tie the horses to the trailer and let them listen to you shoot,” she said. “At the end, I’m going to let you take your horse and walk, trot and canter around all of the targets, and get them comfortable with everything. Usually during the third session, I start teaching how to shoot arrows from horseback.”
Once people learn how to participate in the sport, they can join an established chapter or start their own, Lynn said.
“We have strict standards to start a chapter, but it is not a lot of paperwork,” she said. “Registered instructors can be mentors for new chapters. We’re prepared to travel to help people get started.”
For someone interested in giving mounted archery a try, all they have to do is make a phone call, Lynn said.
“Go to our website at mountedarchery.org, and contact the nearest instructor or chapter,” she said. “Most of us try to make it simple, so you don’t have to spend too much money to get started. Since the sport is so new, a lot of us are willing to do whatever it takes to teach anyone interested.”