Skip to main content

Where archery is more than shooting arrows

Photo: Yangphel Archery
One lazy afternoon, a few years ago, I was watching an archery tournament with a foreigner. The game was played on imported, shiny compound bows and arrows. As the archers, men dressed in colorful outfits, celebrated karey hits almost after every minute or two, the foreigner and I had time to talk. We agreed and argued on some shooting matters, but one of his points went unanswered.

“Bhutanese people consider archery your national sport, but how many Olympic medals have your archers won?”

Well, I could give him no satisfactory answer back then because he reasoned that the aim of the archers everywhere is to hit the target and even Olympic archers shoot with the same aim. Very reasonable I thought. He went on to say that India has won 8 Olympic Gold for Field Hockey, her national sport. That he called is proving to the world that it is the truly the national sport. But very interestingly India is ranked only eighth in the world in its national game. And going by the foreigner’s argument the countries should be adjudged the best in their national sports. Is it necessary that we should shoot Olympic arrows and take pride or do we focus on the culture aspect of the sport?

And one thing that I construe from the foreigner’s point is that while we may play other foreign sports such as football, basketball, volleyballs, cricket, etc. in the country, it is not necessary for us to win in every tournament. Of course I am not saying winning is a problem. It is good to win. But even if we do not, I think it is perfectly alright, if we demonstrate good knowledge of the game and play in the right spirit. It is no shame not winning, but we should not make our size as an excuse for not trying and performing our best in every sporting event.

Now coming to archery, the whole world knows it is our national game and maybe it is high time that we prepare to bring home some medals to their supposed and apt roosting grounds. Let’s not keep on postponing for that moment to happen. We can and we must. And it is not impossible because our taekwondo squad has shown us it is possible.

In Bhutan, archery is more than a game, one Bhutanese has rightly pointed out for he reasons our way of life is contained therein. It is a game that we have inherited from our forefathers. Archery is a game that unites people from all walks of life. Whether you are a red scarf dasho or a white scarf peon, you are provided with the same number of arrows to shoot and the possibility of hitting the karey is same for all irrespective of one’s social status quo. And all the players have the equal right to celebrate. In that sense archery, one that’s recognized as our national sport since 1971 is truly a game that promotes the concept of social harmony and vibrant democracy.   

Bhutan Archery Federation (BAF) takes the responsibility to groom Bhutanese archers for international tournaments. Our archers have competed in a number of international tournaments, the recent one being the 16th Asian Games held in Guangzhou, China. In absence of trained national archery coaches, should we continue listening to outsiders’ remarks that we have no medal for our national sport? Isn’t it time that we invest in our national sport? Isn’t it time that we train our promising shooters and tap their talents?    

In Bhutan almost every second someone shoots an arrow and as the stakes go higher, for archers everyday is a competition. And all these happen on imported equipment.   But maybe it is time for us to redefine our national sport and shoot the arrows the way our ancestors did. Maybe it is time to declare popular archery of the day played on compound bows and arrows is in essence not our national game. Maybe it is time for us to declare our national sport is one that’s played on traditional bamboo bows and arrows and that ours is more than shooting arrows.

Maybe it is time for us to detach our form of shooting the target from the game played elsewhere and make ours one that stands for us and for our age old culture and traditions once and for all. Maybe it is time to hire archery experts and coaches to train our archers to shoot their arrows and hit in an Olympic style. Maybe it is time that we take stock of the situation and breed some more Olympic archers to promote a shooting Gold culture in Bhutan.

(P.S:- This piece featured in Bhutan Times, Sunday for sure, but I forget the date now

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Bloggers are not journalists

To say bloggers are not journalists is to say oranges are not carrots. Bloggers are not journalists. That’s true. But can bloggers become journalists? Maybe. Can journalists be bloggers? Yes. In fact, it would be only proper and appropriate for journalists to blog their opinions as opposed to being 'politically' correct all the time. So why call oranges carrots when they are what they are?
Well, it is true – bloggers have no training in journalism. That’s why they are bloggers. And for the same reason they are  not journalists. No bloggers have ever claimed what they blog can qualify as ‘journalism’.  We all do what we love the most and give our best in whatever we are doing either reporting news or blogging. 

Journalists do it as careers. Bloggers do it (mostly) for hobby and out of passion. Most journalists also do it with great passion - that's true. The journalists get paid for doing their jobs while bloggers derive pleasure doing it. Journalists cover (report) stories eve…

The Story Thief

When we were growing up in a small village in the central Bhutan, we would gather around our grandparents every evening in a room that would be dimly lit with a kerosene lamp. Our grandparents or the elderly members of the family would then take turns to entertain us (siblings and cousins who lived under the same roof) with their stories. Such was the only form of entertainment we had had then.  
Our grandparents would start their stories, which they probably would have heard them from their grandparents. A young poor boy becomes a successful farmer by a turn of luck, a man fights a bear, a poor boy accidentally marries a rich man's beautiful daughter, a lame monkey helps a boy find great wealth, a rooster regrets his action after he mistakenly accuses his wife and young men go on business trips to buy cattle, among many others. We grew up listening to many such stories. Sometimes, the storyteller would narrate the same story again and again, and yet every time it sounded more magi…

A 'holiday' for meat vendors

This Bhutanese month (May 16 - June 13) is observed as Saga-Dawa, a holy month in the country. It is popularly or infamousely known as the time when the sale of meat items is banned in Bhutan. And it's also an opportunity for us to put a light brake on our mighty meaty appetites. Consequently, restaurants are encouraged to serve their customers rich vegetarian meals during the period. Similar ban is also observed every first month of the Bhutanese calendar.
But going by what's happening, the saga-dawa is a month long mandatory and government sanctioned holiday for the butchers and meat vendors. Being holy month does not really make a difference to the menus in the restaurants from rest of the  months in the year. 
Meat is available in all the restaurants and even small eateries ensure that their customers are served their favorite dishes. They're only being wise and practical because if they don't serve meat their customers would move to the restaurant next-door that ser…