Archery is the national sport of Bhutan and we were lucky to witness an Archery tournament in Thimphu‘s national Archery stadium of Changlingmethang during our visit to Bhutan. Bhutanese love playing this sport with full vigour, enthusiasm and celebrations. The way Archery tournaments are played in Bhutan is quite different. Players would be in their national dress, make a lot of noise, even hoot opposition for missing targets and when target is hit, they do a slow dance to celebrate the hit.
Each team has 13 members and both the teams take turns to shoot arrows from both sides to hit a small target at very huge distance (~140 meters). It was unbelievable to even see the arrows landing close to target when it was almost visible from such a long distance.
Anyhow, shooter is assisted by his team mates on the opposite side who come closer to target and signal him the exact position. They keep a close watch on the incoming arrow and move skillfully to avoid it if it would be missing the target.
While we were evaluating the large distance and small targets with surprise, an arrow came and hit the target (to our surprise)!! Bang. Then, began the celebrations of the team members with a slow dance and song facing the target pierced with an arrow.
Bhutanese are very fond of Archery and the way Archery is played in Bhutan is different from other countries. It is part of people’s life here and you will find them playing it wherever they can get space and a chance. National dress, traditional songs and unique celebration style bring a mystic combination of sport and culture and you would love watching this sitting on the side with Bhutanese and monks.
Once the match and tournament ended, we had another surprise – Charming Cham dance. Both teams stood in line on both sides as dancers performed attired the slow yet energetic dance attired in colourful dress.
Where to watch Archery Tournament in Bhutan
Changlingmethang Stadium in Thimphu (Very next to Clock Tower) is one of the prominent Archery stadiums in Bhutan and if you are in Thimphu, do check out if an Archery Tournament is on. We promise that you would love to watch the match. Entry was free and there were some Bhutanese (even monks) sitting on side stairs enjoying the Archery match.
Even while going around in Bhutan, you can see from your car/bus people playing Archery in various places in Bhutan. Do take a break and witness this beautiful culture and sports mix.