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Archery - Tradition in danger?
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The government of Bhutan is getting worried about its traditional national sport. The government is concerned over the possibility that archery could be losing out to football and basketball. The popularity of football and basketball can clearly be seen at week-ends when soccer and basketball matches are held everywhere in the country.

Archery tournaments are also very popular, but many of the participants and spectators are older Bhutanese. Archery has been practised in Bhutan for centuries, and is the only game, along with taekwondo, in which Bhutan has a chance of winning some medals at the next Olympic Games.

Most students would rather play football than archery. In contrast to archery, soccer is a fast-moving team game. Many young women would rather play basketball than archery. The king's first love is archery. But, the king himself is keen on football and basketball.

This article was contributed by KUENSEL, Bhutan's National Newspaper


Archery - Perilous national sport
By the virtue of being a national sport, archery ranges have been allowed to crop up in odd places across the capital city.

Despite dangers associated with the game, archery ranges have been allowed next to people's houses, sandwiching roads and paths or along edges of the roads.

A week ago, at the archery range above the royal academy of performing arts, a stray arrow, which missed its target by far, entered a bedroom through the window of house at Chubachu and hit a TV.

The owner who was lying on his bed watching a program was all shaken up.

Recently the Haa parliament member Ugyen Tenzin was hit with an arrow.

Such incidents, although occasional, has Thimphu residents questioning the location of archery ranges where teams of drunk men shot arrows from equipment used for hunting elsewhere.

Bhutan archery federation president, former minister Kinzang Dorji said instances of accidents occured with growing development activities and with it the population. "Although houses have come up on lands previously used as archery ranges avid archers continue to play in the same area," he said.

A Bhutan Olympic committee official argued accidents occurred when misfortune befell on people, about which concerned had no control. "Despite our repeated reminders not to consume alcohol during matches archers pay no heed," he said.

Archery federation's secretary general Gem Tshering said they had drawn up rules and regulation, which will specify where archery ranges should be located.

The federation, he said, would ensure ranges are away from public places. He also said they would make sure the long awaited walls near targets, behind which players can hide while others shot from the opposite direction, would be built. "We will take action if the rules are not followed henceforth," he said.

The justifications federation and Olympic committee officials offered, national council's social and culture committee members, said were deplorable and lame.

National council member, Tashi Wangmo said the national game was gradually becoming a safety hazard to people.

"It's time that concerned committee do something to fulfill the actions they are designated to."

Archery ranges above Nazhoen pelri, royal academy for performing arts and the one at royal institute of management are all considered perilous.

Kinzang Dorji said people in these areas had created these ranges without the federation's consent and had ignored the rules and regulation.

RIM trainees said novice archers including lecturers practiced at the range located outside the entrance gate of their institute. "Holes and sometimes arrows hang on the electric pole through which we have to pass by," a trainee said.

A trainee claimed an arrow narrowly missed her and hit the electric pole a few weeks back.

"I wish there was an alternate route leading to the main road," she said. "Or the archery range should be relocated."

National council's social and cultural committee member Dr Jagar Dorji said they were yet to discuss on what needs to be done with the archery ranges in the city.

"We'll definitely take up the issue in our next meeting," he said.

A Thimphu resident Karma Damcho wondered why the government failed to do anything about such a dangerous sport.

"We cannot put people's lives in danger in pursuit of pleasure," she said.

Thimphu national referral hospital's neuro-surgeon major Dr Tashi Tenzin said six archery related accidents were reported last year.

He said although fewer cases were recorded this year, many went unreported.

This article was contributed by Yangchen C Rinzin , KUENSEL, Bhutan's National Newspaper 2010
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