The Queen family of Durango loves riding horses and the sport of archery.
So, a few years ago they decided to combine the two and have embraced the sport of competitive mounted archery.
The founded the San Juan Mounted Archers and have been giving demonstrations of the dynamic sport at the Four States Agricultural Expo.
Participants ride horses down a long track and use a specialized archery bow to shoot arrows at targets along the way. Competitors are scored on target accuracy and how fast they get through the course.
A metal target, called a qubak, sits atop a tall pole that requires riders to shoot above them while riding by.
“You have to have trust in your horse and have archery skills. It takes a lot of balance,” said LaVonna Queen, 30.
The family competes in four or five events per year. They built a course at their home on U.S. Highway 550 south of Durango.
“People stop and watch,” Ken Queen said. “Riding a horse at a gallop and shooting at a target is challenging. It’s an exciting sport that is becoming more popular. The horses love it and are trained for it.”
Competition courses are set up in different formats, such as the Korean-based “Raid” style or Hungarian-based “Tower” style.
Competitors move up a rating scale based on their event scores. Ken and Carol Queen moved up through the student levels, and have reached the advanced Horse Archer Level 1 category. They participate in national competitions.
The skill set of shooting arrows from horses goes back millennia across the world, the Queens said, and gives the sport an air of authenticity that attracts people.
“We do it for the pure excitement of it,” said Carol Queen.
A system that records and documents scorings at events allows mounted archers to compete with each other nationwide and worldwide. Carol’s recent competition scores ranked pretty high in the U.S. and worldwide, she said.
On Saturday, the San Juan Mounted Archers will give demonstrations on the south side of the Montezuma County Fairgrounds from 9 a.m. to 10:30 a.m., and from 3:30 p.m. to 5 p.m.
There will be a mounted archery competition in Durango June 17-19 at River Bend Ranch, at 27846 U.S. Highway 550.
For more information, visit the San Juan Mounted Archers Facebook page.