4 September 2023

Cooktown rider repping Australia at Mongolian horse archery world championships

| Sarah Martin
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Don Woods is representing Australia in the International Horse Archery Association World Championships.

FROM small-town Cooktown to wild Mongolia, Don Woods is taking on the world in the little-known sport of horse archery.

The talented horseman has been riding since before he could walk and using a bow for more than a decade, and said as soon as he put the two together, he was hooked.

“Apparently I took to it like a duck to water which surprised a lot of people, but it makes a lot of sense when you know how long I’ve been riding and shooting for,” Woods said.

The 22-year-old, who has been competing in horse archery events for the past five years, said he was excited to put his skills to the test on the world stage at the International Horse Archery Association World Championships this week.

“I’m very excited, it’s hard to explain how it feels when they ring you up and tell you you’ve made the Australian team,” he told Cape York Weekly.

“The last few days I haven’t had much time to think about it, but with the ABC turning up to film last week, it was pretty full on and I started to get pretty excited.”

After he was scheduled to land in Mongolia yesterday (Monday) Woods will spend today bonding with the horse allocated to him for the competition, before competitors will be split into three groups to take on three different courses.

“Out of those three groups, the top 20 will go on to do the traditional Mongolian ball shoot, where a ball is towed behind another horse and shot by us,” he said.

The Cooktown rider, who will be up against 122 competitors from 22 countries, said he was hoping to be among the top 20 to take part in championships finale.

“For big competitions like this it’s all done at a fast pace like a canter or a gallop, and I have a bit of a reputation for speed,” he said.

The Cooktown archer has high hopes of success in Mongolia.

Woods has created a horse archery track at his Cooktown property, and trains regularly to hone the skills of both horse and rider.

“There’s a fair bit with the horses, desensitising them to the bow and arrow and also in the control, because you drop the reigns and ride without hand control,” he said.

“Although it only took me a few hours to get the hang of it when I first started, there have of course been big improvements since then, and there’s a big difference between hitting the target and hitting it consistently and accurately.”

Woods will be joined by fellow Australian team members, NSW-based Rodney, Liberty and Amelia Deaman.

The trip has cost the team more than $14,000, and a fundraising page has been set up to help assist.

“That’s a rough estimate, but in reality with all the extra gear it’s probably costing $4500 per person,” Woods said.

“Current living expenses pulled up a lot of people who might have been on the Australian team otherwise, but I don’t care, I’m just going to work out a way to pay for it!”

Visit www.gofund.me/e3e5cd0a to donate to the Australian team’s fundraising.

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