South Asia Diary: Living By The Bow And Arrow In Bhutan; See Video

Check out how Bhutan’s famous archery competition that is a complete culture in itself

Simren Rodrigues

October 27, 2020

Trending News

3 min


Archery is Bhutan’s national sport. But this is no ordinary sport as it is celebrated with immense joy and happiness. Archery was declared as the national sport of Bhutan in the year 1971. From then on, it gained immense popularity in and outside Bhutan. Take a look at this video from Wion that captures the Bhutanese archery in its truest form.

Watch the video below:

In the video, the reporter states how archery is not just a sport in Bhutan, but a celebration of life. The video features how the equipment is prepared at home while the setting of the event is more of an informal nature. Bhutan’s most popular archery competition is more exciting than any Olympic contest. The fellow archers hoot after every shot. Any archer who hits a bulls eye is rewarded with a celebratory victory dance. This festival is a major tourist attraction and is conducted throughout Bhutan. Interestingly, even Prince William and Kate Middleton tried their hand at Bhutan’s archery.

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About the tournament:

The archery tournament involves teams of 13 players on either side. The target is carved on a piece of wood and painted using bright eye-catching colours. It is usually placed 145 meters away, which is almost twice the distance in Olympics archery. An interesting fact about the bow and arrow used in the competition is that they are both made from bamboo. Even though they may not be as effective as the carbon fibre ones but the archers make up for it with their enthusiasm and a secret drink. What is the secret drink? The Ara or Bhutan’s local alcohol is consumed by the participants during the competition. However, there have been a number of mishaps too. Archers have been admitted to hospital a couple of times after being struck with arrows in their back.

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More about the Archery sport

Earlier the competitions were held only at dzongkhag and gewog levels. Later, with an increase in popularity, the competitions started being held throughout the country. Bhutan also has an Olympic archery team. The competitions are held during religious & public holidays and certain local festivals.

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