A resident of Wareham embarks on a new activity: equestrian archery

Do you want to learn how to shoot arrows while riding a galloping horse à la Legolas from Lord of the Rings?

Wareham resident Ann Rams has you covered.

“The first thing you need is a horse,” said the mounted archery instructor, standing near a horse paddock on a Rochester farm.

Rams, 69, has been shooting arrows since she was 20, she said, and she finds the practice meditative.

She taught her children, John and Brittany, archery when they were old enough to notch a bow.

When her daughter, Brittany Rams, died four years ago, the mother said she had to decide what to do with Brittany’s horse, Topaz. Eventually, Rams decided to keep Topaz and start riding again.

Last year, a few young riders told Rams they wanted to learn how to shoot arrows from the back of a horse. Rams, already an experienced archer, realized that archery on horseback was also something Brittany was interested in.

Jenelle Kutinsky grew up riding a horse and loved archery, but she didn’t bring the two together until she met Rams.

She said the pair met when she started volunteering at the Rams barn at the start of the pandemic. Kutinsky said she quickly developed a bond with the horse Topaz: “He just knows things,” she explained.
“If he couldn’t ride a horse, I would still be here,” she said.

The combination of the horsemen’s equestrian knowledge and Ram’s archery experience has spawned a new club among horsemen: horse archers.

“It’s not your normal kind of archery,” Rams said.

The sport requires a basic understanding of how to ride a horse, as the addition of the archery element complicates riding. Archers stand upright in stirrups to avoid jostling as their horse gallops, Rams said, and there’s no time to shoot arrows from a quiver — they just have to go.

In competitive mounted archery, riders complete a “postal” or competition. A post is typically made up of riders firing at three targets within 300 feet, Rams said. Riders use a horse bow as opposed to more modern bows which have pulleys, wheels, sights and other aids.

Horse bows are simpler. A curved strip of wood, a taut string and a leather thong wrapped around the center of the bow for handling is all there is to the equestrian bow.

The rams said that even before archers mount their horses, they practice accustoming their mounts to the plumage-plumage-plumage of the bow. Horses must remain calm while their riders release their arrows, so acclimating them to the high-pitched sound prevents them from becoming startled later.

The Wareham resident is not currently offering lessons for new riders as she recently tore a tendon in her shoulder and cannot shoot an arrow. But in late April or early May, Rams said she hopes to offer lessons to new archers to spread the sport of mounted archery.

Those interested can email him at [email protected] and follow the club’s Facebook page, “Equestrian Archers”.

Earnest A. Martinez