Archery is the national sport of Bhutan, and every village has it own archery range. competitions, usually accompanied by a banquet, are a part of all festive occasions. Using bamboo bows (although modern compound bows are finding their way into the kingdom) teams of archers shoot at targets only 30 centimetres in diameter from a distance of 120 metres. Each team has a noisy crowd of supporters who, as well as encouraging their own side and try to out off the opposition. The game of archery is not exactly a sport that draws frenzied supporters out for a kill. There are no die-hard fans and no follow-the-team-to-kingdom-come fanatics. And no streaking hooligans.If anyone is all pumped up, it is the archers themselves… To the Bhutanese, it’s a tourist sport and a very saleable one at that too. It has tremendous tourist appeal. Archery is tradition; it’s songs and dances and jeers and near-primitive howls. It’s the works to someone seeking the unusual. All that could be just a facade.
Under the surface, and away from the real game, there’s plenty a foot. More than a tourist could ever imagine and some locals too.
Every time a major archery tournament is on, be it in the village or at the capital, strange things are happening. Perfectly sane, and often well placed men, are doing things that would otherwise have been dubbed completely insane.