Monday, September 27, 2010

Bull's eye!

Archery is Bhutan's national sport. While the rest of us were at the bank, in Thimphu, exchanging money or at the post office maiing off postcards, Paul had made is way down to a nearby field to watch a group of men having a friendly archery competition. The rest of us eventually met up with Paul and we found ourselves completely entertained on the field in front of us.


 Two teams of archers were lined up 150m across the field from each other.  150m....that's the distance to the small wooden target. Compare that to Olympic target distance which is only 50m!

And I had expected to see the archers using simple wooden or maybe bamboo bows but in fact, they use some pretty fancy state-of-the-art carbonite bows with a complicated looking pulley system that releases the arrows with tremendous speed.  These archers mean business!

Considering the distance to the target is so great it's not surprising that as the archer prepares to release the arrow, members of the opposing team quickly scurry to stand behind green wooden screens to protect themselves from an errant arrow.

After the arrow is fired, the men then huddle around the target to yell back the results across the field.  If the arrow missed the target, the men would howl, chant and basically shout back at how bad the archer's aim was.  On the other hand, when an arrow hit the tar­get, the men would perform a celebratory dance and sing the praises of the shooter.  It's like the Bhutanese version of the touch down dance that football players do in the US :-)


Although none of us knew what the rules of the competition were, it didn't matter. We really enjoyed ourselves watching the archers at play!