What is considered a sport today was actually a means to life way back in the Paleolithic times when bow and arrow were used for hunting. As the world evolved, these two pieces of equipment that complement each other so well have been used in warfare and battles. The intention is to hit a very specific goal with the arrow using the bow as the propeller. The strength with which the arrow is dispatched and how accurately the arrow lands decide how successful the archer is. In the modern world people don’t use bow and arrow for commercial hunting; maybe some do for recreation. Armed cars, guns, and pistols replaced bows and arrows in the sphere of combat hundreds of years ago, therefore, archery which is incidentally the national game of Bhutan is practised as a sport across the world.
Archery requires some extent of clear, flat ground with targets positioned at specified distances. These targets are usually made of foam, rubber or board. With archery being the national sport, practically every city in Bhutan has an archery field. From Thimphu, the capital, to the distant eastern city of Mongar or the Probjika Valley, there are sufficient land areas dedicated to the sport. If you happen to be in Paro; Thimphu’s closest neighbour on the west, there is plenty of scope for recreation. Many a Paro hotel is occupied during the season as it is a popular tourist destination. This has resulted in the development of properties such as the COMO Uma Paro by COMO Hotels and Resorts which even has its own archery field.
The best time to observe the locals as marksmen or archers is during cultural festivals and holidays. While archery seems straightforward enough, why it is spectator worthy in Bhutan is due to the great festivities and vibrancy that surrounds the sport. The locals dress up in traditional costumes and other colourful attire, some paint their faces and others engage in traditional dance performances before and after the contest. The cheering, jeering, and supportive applause are similar across the continents.
Caleb Falcon is a travel writer who specializes in writing content based on the many exciting world adventures that await intrepid travellers.