Kassai Horsearchery International Judge
When I was five years old, my older brother gave me a fiberglass longbow. I learned young how to shoot. I dreamed as early as age nine that I could shoot the bow from a galloping horse like the Plains First Nations peoples in their buffalo hunts, which to me was the ultimate progression of archery. This desire led to the wish for a horse but the first experiences ended in too many times bucked off, bitten, and kicked. Guidance and luck were not abundant and I kept my archery to the ground. When I was almost 40 years old I still had not I done horseback archery, and one day I asked myself the tough question: What would I do that was just for me and my heart's desire?
I was surprised to learn that even after 26 years, I had not forgotten how to shoot, and I was baffled by the notion I had denied myself so much fun for so long! The inevitable next question was What of horseback archery now? A quick Google search led me to Lajos Kassai, a man in Hungary who over the last 30 years revived horseback archery as a martial art and a modern sport. I was amazed watching YouTube videos of this man atop a cantering Arabian horse shooting 12 arrows in 18 seconds from as far away as 50 meters--and hitting a 90 centimetre target with every arrow!
In Hungary, Master Kassai runs Kassai Valley, the most well-equipped horse archery center in the world, where hundreds of students have learned horse archery according to his martial arts system. I travelled to attend two three-day clinics taught by Kassai and started to learn the basic principals of his fast shooting technique and how it differs greatly from the traditional style I had learned for ground archery. I trained hard and was invited by the Master to apply to become one of his International Judges for Kassai Horsearchery Open Worldcup competitions. This would require attending his center in Hungary to understand his training system and how to run competitions. This spectacular experience happened in April 2018, and in July 2018 Master Kassai travelled to Nova Scotia to run a training camp and observe my capacity to host an official Kassai competition--my final test for becoming one of his international judges. With the tremendous efforts of our club we call the Seawinds Horse Archers, this was a success!
Now this story is about bringing the horse archery to more people, through lessons, classes, clinics, and weekly training sessions with the Seawinds Horse Archers Club. My best advice is this: If you've ever dreamed of firing arrows from the back of a cantering horse, follow your heart! It doesn't have to make sense yet!