Changlimithang Archery Ground

Chang Lam, Thimphu, Bhutan

The national sport of Bhutan is archery. Serious archery. These gentlemen (the Prince was a competitor before he became King) are so good they hit targets we couldn’t even see from the competitors end of the grounds. When they did well they would all do a little jig in celebration. Their equipment was extremely high tech in this tournament but we saw others with what looked like regular gym class style bows and arrows. When in Bhutan you will have no problem findng a tournament to watch - the archery grounds are near the center of town usually near the river.

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"Playing Archery" in Bhutan

I have only been in the country for 3 hours and already the Bhutanese take cover. No wonder; I am wielding a compound bow and try feverishly to aim the aluminum arrow at the wooden target 145 meters (more than 400 feet) away. The spotters near the target quickly hide behind the brick walls and I let go. “Tok!” my guide Kuenzang exclaims for good luck as the arrow leaves the bow and a small dust cloud about 30 feet in front of the target shows my lack of skill. The fellow shooters congratulate me on shooting straight, blame the bow for being too short for my arm length and, in general, are welcoming given that I am crashing their daily lunch break get-together. They invite the “yellow head” with customary hospitality, even though I have not the faintest idea of what I am doing. “Playing archery” at the national archery ground in the capital Thimphu is a daily, all day occurrence. Games start as early as 6:30 AM and last until sunset. So, come, sit and enjoy the spectacle that makes you feel like a local.

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