The World of the International Archery Festival (MA3)

History in the Making
By Rob Morton & Jennifer Larsen

Kent Battenfield of The Eastern Contingent, Master of Horses and Track Marshall for the TXIAF on his War Horse, Woodrow. Photo by Vincent McLean

“Not long ago something truly unique happened in a small town about forty-five minutes south of Austin, Texas. The first annual “Texas International Archery Festival” took place at the picturesque Sherwood Forest Faire grounds in McDade, Texas, hosted by MA3 Chapter The Eastern Contingent. One of the very first events of its kind, it was truly a look at what archery is like around the world; this was the first time many American archers had seen international offerings of this sort. 12 countries participated this year including: The USA, Germany, Poland, China, Japan, Singapore, Hungary as well as a number of others including two Native Nations – both Apache and Cherokee.

Sherwood Forest, McDade Texas

This festival was the dream of Robert Morton (The owner of The Flying Hun – Archery and Leather), his partner Jennifer Larsen (Co-Leader of The Eastern Contingent) and the godfather of mounted archery here in the USA, Lukas Novotny (Owner of Saluki Bow). Novotny curated the truly unique mounted archery courses featured at the festival. The TXIAF was conceived as an homage to the World Nomad Games in Kyrgyzstan (of which both Rob and Jennifer were competitors for the USA Team in 2018). Not only did it hold a world-class mounted archery competition, but also four ground archery courses from various countries, forty vendors, music and a slew of other exhibitions.

Vincent McLean. Photo by Genie Images

The hallmark of the event was “The Golden Age Classic” – a throwback to the challenging 17th century Turkish mounted archery events of a bygone era.

The courses differed from normal offerings for mounted archery here in the USA, due to the fact that they were based solely on historical models – focused not only on horsemanship, but also on accuracy. The largest course – The Turkish Serial Shot, challenged not only the riders, but the horses as well. The typical course found in America is only 90 meters, whereas the Turkish Serial came in at 165 meters. The course had four targets, which are also 30 cm smaller than the standard American models. The courses were less of a “how fast can you nock and shoot” contest, but more focused on the accuracy of shoots and timing. This is the first time such a course has been run here in the USA at a competition.

Along with the Turkish Serial course, there was a Turkish Three-Shot – a challenging course with small 60cm targets, set at various distances from the track. There was a Turkish-Style Qabaq course – which also included 30cm “Kicak” targets for back and off-side shots, and a smaller cymbal at the top of the qabaq pole (shot with blunted flu-flu arrows). To make matters more challenging, you could only earn target points if you hit the qabaq successfully!

Katie Stearns of the Flying Duchess Ranch. Jeff Cohen of Moonshine Images

Ground archery offerings the TXIAF were also diverse, including the 35 meter Kyrgyz – shooting a life-size Ibex target at three positions (standing, kneeling and the back shot known as “the Parthian). The Turkish – shot at 75 meters using the traditional target known as a “puta”. It has a distinctive pear-shape, which mimics the front of a man on a horse. And finally, the most challenging distance– The Korean, which is shot at an impressive 145 meters. A literal door-sized target, any shots landing on its surface count for one point. And finally for a bit of a Texas flair, The Austin Archery Club hosted a “Texas 3D” shoot, set back in the woods – with 20 unique animal targets to challenge even the most seasoned archer.

Photo by Genie Images

Along with 40 vendors, there were a number of musical acts and demonstrations held at the TXIAF, including the Austin Kyudo Club doing a traditional archery demonstration, the Blaggards – a local Texas Irish rock band and the faire-famous Wine and Alchemy adding a bit of traditional eastern-style music.

All in all it was a fantastic event – one which blended mounted archery, ground archery, music, food, and entertainment into a truly spectator friendly event. The Eastern Contingent is already at work planning the 2020 event. Going forward, the festival has hopes to grow and become a stop on the international circuit for competitors, and be a place for spectators to watch something both captivating and unique.”

Below: Traditional costumes worn at the event, photos by Azulox Photography


Takashi Nakahira of Japan, Mounted Archery Competitor. Photo by Vincent McLean


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