Hi, I’m Jens, 11 years old, and I would like to take you on my adventure: horseback archery.
When I was little, I had a plastic bow and I used to shoot it in our garden every now and then. I was always interested in Robin Hood and was always tinkering around this subject. I tied nets from paracord, tied strings to the arrows and shot them, made a bull from our container and threw my lasso over it and made arrow quivers from PVC pipes.
In the spring of 2022, we saw a call on Facebook for a horseback archery clinic by Siem Budding (European Champion 2022). Unfortunately the first one was full, but at the end of May I was allowed to participate in the Ponyvriendjes in Lelystad. I really liked this. We first trained on foot and then I was allowed to trot on a Haflinger and practice archery at the same time. When we were done, Siem let me borrow a bow, three arrows and a safety net. Fortunately, we just got a new dishwasher and I was able to make a target pack from the Styrofoam and cardboard. I made a cross out of duct tape and that served as a blazon. Two months later I had bought a bow and six arrows with my pocket money. To experience how a horseback archery competition works and to support Siem, we went to the Gauchoux Open in France in August 2022. I learned a lot from it and it was cool to see all the cultures and their costumes.
From that moment on, it gave me even more willpower to continue in the sport. Since I started, I train on horseback once a month and train daily at home in the garden with my own materials. I like to vary my shooting and make it myself. For example, I practice on moving targets (hay bale on paracord), small targets (milk carton or thick cardboard), upside down on a large ball, lying down and recently on a western saddle on a ladder.
Unfortunately I don’t have my own horse yet, but I would like to. The great thing about this sport is that you can borrow horses. This summer I had a three-day clinic in Poland and subsequently rode my first 3* IHAA International Competition. The nice thing about this was that young and old had the same passion for horses and the sport.
The first and third days I was allowed to borrow a Haflinger and the second day I was allowed to train on an Arab in the forest; this was very special!
During the competition, which lasted three days, I was allowed to ride a Konik. This breed is almost never found in riding schools in the Netherlands; The Konik is mainly used here for grazing purposes in nature reserves. On the last day we rode the hunt track and this is my favourite track; a track of 1.8 km (4.9 miles) with many turns!
Because not many people in the Netherlands practice the sport, there are not many locations nearby where I can train. But it also has a nice side, because now I can (hopefully) go abroad more often:) In the meantime, I will continue training until there is another competition.
If you would like to see me in action and learn what horseback archery is like, you can watch my video here