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Archery in the Kingdom of Bhutan

Words: Good Sport

Images: Tim O'connor

Located in the eastern Himalayas, the Kingdom of Bhutan declared archery its national sport in 1971 following the Kingdom’s induction into the United Nations. Far-removed from the common form of archery as it can be seen in the Olympics – although Bhutan does maintain an Olympic team in the sport – the Bhutanese nature of the sport is distinct in it’s ties to martial arts and ceremonial performance.

On any given Saturday archers of all ages will be out in numbers overlooking Changlimithang stadium – a local landmark stadium built specially for soccer games, and especially to champion sporting within the local female population.

Even in the face of rain, the archers play away, as they do from first light, with no plans to stop until sundown. Each round never lacking in its share of celebratory dancing and drinking, only becoming more boisterous as the day goes on.