IT'S been a big few weeks for a local horse archery group.
The Steppenwolf - Horse Archer of the Steppe group, of Martinsville, has been visited by a world champion of the sport, formed a partnership with a Sydney archery group, and been invited to open an Archery NSW festival in Bathurst this weekend.
Steppenwolf's Sasha Buchmann said the Bathurst Archery Festival was one of the most prestigious events on the Australian archery calendar.
The Steppenwolf group is passionate about all things archery, including the ancient skill of horse archery - that's shooting arrows at targets while riding on horseback.
"Horse archers were the earliest cavalryman and are typically associated with the equestrian nomads of the Eurasian steppe," Ms Buchmann said.
"Today, horse archery is a rapidly growing sport, and competitions have hundreds of attendees where one can marvel at traditional Korean, Mongol, Kazakh, Hun, and Hungarian garb and horse tack."
Ms Buchmann said converts to the sport were attracted by the "rhythm of horse archery" which included "the drumming of hoof beats on the ground, the sound of arrows hitting their target, and the satisfied snorts of steeds."
The Steppenwolf group recently met world champion horse archer, Mihai Cozmei, on his visit to Australia.
Mr Cozmei arranged a meeting for the Martinsville group with the Maydaan Archers, of Sydney, the first club in Australia to focus on teaching the Asiatic Ottoman archery style.
"Since then, Maydaan archers have come regularly up from Sydney to Martinsville to learn about transferring their archery skills onto horseback," Ms Buchmann said.
"The partnership has been very productive with both sides learning."
Steppenwolf member, Simon Turner, said the Maydaan archers were highly skilled and their trainers exceptional.
"You could tell how much knowledge the head trainers have got. It is an absolutely amazing experience shooting with them," he said.
The benefits of the partnership were clearly mutual, Ms Buchmann said.
Maydaan founder Ahmed Karat spoke highly of Steppenwolf.
"In this partnership, we have found a worthy partner who shares our spiritual respect for the old teachings and the creature horse. It feels like the most natural fit," he said.
Mr Karat is now helping to introduce horse archery to his club, and several Maydaan members had already bought horses, Ms Buchmann said.
The two organisations looked forward to more training opportunities together, and plans were already being made for joint displays.
Locals interested in learning horse archery are invited to phone Ms Buchmann on 0435 180 200 or visit the Steppenwolf - Horse Archer of the Steppe page on Facebook.