News from the 2014 series

22nd September 2014


What a great weekend, with the final stage of the European Grand Prix Series being contested in the UK. Thanks to the BHAA and the Centre of Horseback Combat for hosting and providing horses for this stage.

The series finishes with gold medals for Poland who won 9 of 10 events through the 3 stages. Final points are:

Poland = 245

Great Britain = 200

Sweden = 155

Finland = 88

Although this is primarily a team competition, highlights of the weekend included Wojtek Osiecki gaining his 6th event win of the series in the Korean event and a 1-2 for the ladies in the Hungarian event with Ana Sokolska winning and Claire Sawyer in 2nd place.


The teams were:

Poland: Wojtek Osiecki, Michał Sanczenko & Anka Sokólska

GB: Chris Harding, Simon Harding, Claire Sawyer & Dan Sawyer

Sweden: Anders O Jönsson & Kalle Möllerberg

Finland: Risto Paloneva, Tarja Strömdahl, Janni Taiha & Tero Ulvinen
























10th June 2014

This weekend saw the 2nd stage of the European Horseback Archery Grand Prix Series. I would like to thank Anders O Jönsson and his family for hosting a great match in Southern Sweden.

This time we competed again in Korean and Hungarian, plus the modified Turkish and Swedish Field Track events. Again the Poles were a pleasure to watch and secured 4 more wins to add to the 3 they hold from the 1st stage. Competition was close between Great Britain and Sweden with the difference in one event being only 0.5pts between both teams of 4! In the end GB took 2nd in each event and Sweden 3rd. Although Finland finish this stage with 4th place in each event this reflects the fact that only one competitor was able to attend rather than 4; infact Tero shot very well.

The running total of points (gained from each team's ranked position in each of the 7 events run over the 1st and 2nd stages of the competition) is:
Poland = 175
Great Britain = 135
Sweden = 110
Finland = 44

The teams were: 
Poland: Michał Piasek, Szczepan Łakomy, Radek Kożuch and Wojtek Osiecki
GB: Chris Harding, Claire Sawyer, Dan Sawyer & Adam Snowball
Sweden: Anders O Jönsson, Kalle Möllerberg, Frida Möllerberg & Sissela Ågårdh Orsmark
Finland: Tero Ulvinen

The 3rd and final stage of the competition will be contested in the UK in September...



Video footage of the 2nd stage


With many thanks to Jukka Tilli who both filmed the event and edited the footage.

A personal perspective...  from Claire Sawyer (GB)


We had a great time in Sweden and really enjoyed riding Anders' Icelandic horses. We were delighted with the 2nd place in each of the 4 events that we came away with.


The highlights of the trip were the Modified Turkish event where you had to pick up an arrow at canter / gallop (obviously) then shoot it at the 9m high Qabaq target. Team GB had a great time with a >90% pickup rate thanks to the excellent remote coaching in mounted games technique from Jem Pearce (mounted games international and a friend of mine). I did feel a little bit of a fraud since the arrow was in a stand on a step and my horse (not pony!) was only 12h2, there was only reaching out involved no requirement to hang off the horse  Nevertheless I was chuffed to pick the arrow each time and especially the time I hit the qabaq target too. 


The Swedish field course was similar to the Polish track. The 450m long track was set up around the edge of the property, through open fields and under trees at the edge of the wood - a problem for the blokes on the horses, but not for little old me on my horse (not pony!) though by this time I had swapped horses with Frida and was delighted with my pretty little 6yo mare who ran faster than my first horse and was a whole couple of inches taller... The complication with this track is that we were riding across where fences normally were, past the entrance to the normal hba track and past pens containing field companions that weren't used for archery - each of these situations inevitably involved your horse at least thinking twice about where they were wanting to canter and if they wanted to canter at all. As a result running this track was like having your mind in overdrive - trying to second guess what you horse would do, leg changes, nocking your arrow (and indeed for me, how many of the arrows in my back or hip quiver had been used, and when to move to the other quiver) then still trying to shoot with good form. Having watched some of my team mates struggle with slightly tired and uncooperative mounts, changes of direction and an unscheduled dismounting, there was no way I was going to let my horse get the better of me and I'm sorry to say that having no hands free to use my reins I fell back on forceful verbal commands (aka yell at pony) - not my most ladylike moment and Wojtek did commiserate with Dan for having a wife with such a strong voice and thighs. But I came 6th of 15 so very happy!  And Soley and I had a lovely bareback ride around afterwards and made friends again - I do like to end it on a good note...

7th May 2014


The 1st stage (of 3) of the European Horseback Archery Grand Prix Series happened last weekend. We had our match within the Grunwald competition and had a great time. I would like to thank the Polish Horseback Archery Association for being such great hosts and running such a well organised competition.

Poland come away from the 1st stage in the lead with 3 wins giving them 75pts. GB were 2nd in the Korean and Hungarian events finishing with 55pts and Sweden were 2nd in the battle/Polish track event and finish close behind with 50pts.

The teams were: 
Poland: Wojtek Osiecki, Michał Piasek, Anka Sokólska & Michał Tomaszewski
GB: Oisin Curtis, Claire Sawyer, Dan Sawyer & Adam Snowball
Sweden: Emil Ericsson, Anders O Jönsson, Kalle Möllerberg & Frida Möllerberg

We eagerly await the 2nd stage in Sweden in a month's time and competing there with the Finland team too

A personal perspective....        From Oisin Curtis (GB)


Grunwald Competition Write-up


            We arrived at Warsaw Modlin airport on the 29th at 8.30pm local time, after a very pleasant flight. I was particularly stunned flying into Poland with sunset reflecting off the clouds, and then refracting off the ice forming on the window, very pretty! We were met at the airport by Mateusz, who then took us on the 2 hour drive to the hotel we were staying at. Hotel was nice, but alas lacking a kettle ... so no tea before bed; however, there was free wifi!


Day one - Training

            So we arrived at the common room after a pleasant 9am pickup and there were many introductions. The horseback archery world is very strange in that, I am friends with several of these people of facebook already, so was great to meet them! Also Radoslaw came up offering around 'Herbal Moonshine' ... it's strong, but when cold, it helps! (more on that later!) We then did a little ground archery warm up and it was time to get to the horses. Oh side note ... at this time it was hot sunshine, about 25° C; This was not expected! Ok the first horse I was put on was the one Kalle from Sweden later ended up with. It was much too fast for me, I was only hitting one target or occasionally 2 out of 5 on the practice track, needless to say I was struggling.  I was swapped onto a slower horse called Hardy, who I was much more comfortable on. Dan was on a cute little Fjord pony, that was slower than he was used to I think, but seemed happy. Adam and Claire shared a bay horse that seemed to run very well for them (and shared a name with our point of contact, Jagoda if I remember correctly!).

            After this was an impromptu archery battle using low poundage bows, foam tipped arrows, wearing paintball masks. It was a blast, great fun. This game needs bringing home. Also on a side note, beer is like a pound a pint! I love this country!


Day 2 - Korean Event

            Ok, first thing I have to tell you is,  the Grunwald competition is held on the actual Grunwald battlefield. Very cool and beautiful scenery.  So, competition; today we shoot rounds at the Korean double shot (one forwards one backwards) Triple shot, (one forwards, one sideways adjacent to the track and one backwards) and the 5 shot (5 targets, with 30 m in between them parallel to the track.) This is one interesting change to the rules I have not competed with before. With the triple shot, you have to hit 2 targets to get a score. aka if your first arrow scores 5 (bullseye) but your second and third arrow misses you score 0. (This happened to me!) Also on the 5 shot you have to hit at least 3 targets to walk away with a score. This put a lot of pressure on for the runs, which made things interesting!

             Dan was on fire on his teeny tiny little Polish pony, (not literally of course) getting a great set of runs, and putting team GB off to a flying start. Myself and Claire were in group 3 shooting, and finally Adam shot in group 5. Everybody shot consistently and walked away with a good set of scores putting us in second place behind Poland and in front of Sweden for the Grand Prix.               

            After the competition we went to the Grunwald Museum and had a talk about Polish Mounted Archery, followed by a trip to Pacółtowo Palace and the stables across the road. This was 5* equestrian accommodation. Big American barn style buildings with large stables, each one with a double glazed window, complete with chandlers hanging from the ceiling! Impressive stuff! The palace itself was a beautiful building and has been transformed into a hotel. During our tour we were brought into a small ballroom and treated to a piano and tenor recital. This ... was not expected .. at all! Very nice though.

             After this is was time to head back to the common room for cooked sausages by the bonfire. This was a relief because it was absolutely freezing at this point, so a couple of Radslaw's Herbal Moonshines and a beer took the edge of the cold away!


Day 3 - Hungarian Event

            Another cold start today, but reasonably bright. So after feeling reasonably confident about the Korean, I was now preparing for the Hungarian. My thought process was, get a front shot off by the start, hit the side shot and attempt 2 Parthian shots. This was unusual for us because the Hungarian was 3 runs warm up (with shooting) followed by 9 runs! Dan put us off to a good start with a score of 65. I was pleased with my personal best of 35 ... but there is much room for improvement. Claire smashed it with an awesome score of 74. This left it to Adam to keep within 40 points of Emil from Sweden. He did an amazing job with a score of 72. Another personal best. This means for the second day we were in second place for the Grand Prix. Also under competition pressure, my method for holding arrows in the bow hand works well. All this meaning that GB walk away with second after Poland for the second time in the competition, and Sweden in third.

            After the competition we headed up to the lecture theatre, for an interesting talk about Iranian/Persian horseback archery, given by Ali Goorchian (who is an awesome guy) We then had another archery tag battle with foam tipped arrows. This was awesome fun, initially starting with 5 vs 5, and moving onto a capture the flag game. Finishing with an all vs all free for all! Great fun. We followed this with sitting down by the fire chatting and the usual exchange of ideas. (A few glasses of the Hungarian Pálinka may have been consumed too!)


Day 4 - Polish Event

            This was the unknown quantity here, I had no idea what to expect. This is an unusual course for several reasons, I will try to describe it the best I can. Firstly you have to canter away from the track, around the outside of a post (there is no boundaries except the one stopping you from getting too close to the battle target (3 targets attached together) For this there is a score of 10 for hitting the target and 5 for the surrounding area. You then canter around the post and nock an arrow for a standard side shot on the track (which for the readers, is 400m long and mostly uphill), followed by a Jarmacki (downwards shot). There is then a bend in the track to the left where there is an off side shot, followed by a Parthian (backward) shot. This is then followed by a side shot, at a slightly greater distance than the first one, and then as the track widens, there is a target in the middle of the track, that can be shot from the left or right. You need to hit 3 scoring targets to get a final score. The optimum time was 1 minute 20s. Well I'll work the scoring backwards .... I hit 3 targets on my first run, but one was just outside the scoring zone, and well, the second run ... I let the pressure get to me, and it involved me throwing the arrow at the off side target, because I fumbled the nocking! GAH! So I ended up with a score of 0,0  However it was so much fun! (I should probably say here, that there were 9 other people with no score for this one, and only 4 people scored on both rounds total!) Following me was Claire, and then Dan both with a scoring run, and then Adam right up the board in 8th place, absolutely smashing it again! With each day this guys form gets better and better!! It seems the less he practices the course, the better the performance! Unfortunately in this event GB came third, followed by Sweden in second place, and First was Poland. (My goodness, these guys are good!)

            Following the competition there was much drinking and merriment, and when it was nice and dark, we were offered to 'get our bows and 2 arrows and make big kaboom' Well we all agreed, and attached small glow-sticks to our arrows and proceeded up to the field. We took a couple of shots at a small target from about 50 m and everyone missed. So we found the arrows and tried again from a shorter distance. This time someone hit. There was a massive BOOOOOOOOM and a huge bright flash of light. I now understood the 'kaboom' reference! We did this a couple more times before heading back for more drinks by the fire .... as it was about 0 °C at this point! (Except for Dan who was driving, Thanks Dan! :D ) This was the latest night of the week! Our hotel was double booked, so we were kindly allowed to stay with the organisers.


Day 4 - Ground Archery Event

Today I woke up at 7.20am ... and couldn't get back to sleep, so went to the kitchen and browsed the internet and drank 3 cups of coffee before seeing the other guys! Note to self, check the white granulated unlabeled stuff in an unknown kitchen, before putting it in your cup. Because coffee with 2 spoons of salt is GRIM! OH!         

            Many thanks to Jagoda and Michal for cooking us scrambled eggs for breakfast! Legends! We had a nice late start at the common room today! There was Many fun events from shooting on a wooden horse, climbing a wooden castle and shooting from it at targets of different distances, and even spinning around for 30 seconds before shooting as fast as you could, and also shooting with different distances. It was great fun, and the day was topped off with ANOTHER archery battle of archery tag.  This time it was GB vs other people ...! It was going great for us, until Emil joined in with his crazy running shot. HA!          

           After this, everything was packed away and we had to begin to reluctantly say goodbye to everyone. Although we had only been here a week, it feels like much longer (in a good way) and I hope to see many of the people I have met again soon in competition. I love the way this sport has such a sense of community, and everyone is so friendly! Many friendships have been formed this week, and I can't wait to get to Poland again! Beautiful country and lovely people! (and cheap beer, WOO!) To finish I will quote Wojtek (the winner of the competition overall) : "The competition is over, and now I train" 



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