Seasoned riders are welcome to elevate their game with Ottoman-style horseback archery lessons
The nomadic Turks, like most Central Asian communities, were renowned for their skills on horseback as well as their precision with the bow and arrow. It is said that the Turkish bow was the most feared weapon before the invention of gunpowder.
If you're keen to try your hand at both, bespoke travel planners Urbane Nomads have rolled out an experience that combines Ottoman-style horseback archery lessons together with a trip to Eastern Turkey to witness cirit, a game on horseback that combines acrobatics and stick throwing — quite erroneously described as being a form of 'extreme polo'. A very popular spectator sport during Ottoman times, it claimed more than its fair share of casualties, leading Mahmud II to briefly ban it after the dissolution of the janissaries. In modern times, players dress as sipahi (ancient Ottoman horsemen) while playing cirit to keep up with the tradition.
Depending on how adept you are on a horse, your horseback archery lessons in Istanbul would range from a week to two weeks before you take off on a trip to explore Eastern Turkey. Furthermore, the trip can be customised to include one-on-one time with one of the biggest private collectors of Ottoman art or a tour of the Princes Islands led by an architect which includes a visit to the private gardens of prominent Turkish personalities.
The best part? You get to bring home a hari nixed archer's ring, cast specially to fit your right thumb. The souvenir is certainly one for the keeping.