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NATIONAL SPORT


Archery is the much loved National Sport of Bhutan. Each village has its own Archery Range, and it is impossible to imagine any festival taking place without a high spirited competition. Contests take place year round. The distance between the two targets is about 120 meters. The targets are made of wood splashed with colorful traditional patterns. Inter-village rivalry is common throughout the country and the rivalry is no more fiercely expressed than during annual archery tournaments. They are generally held during Losar (Bhutanese New Year). But smaller competitions are held throughout the year.

The tournament's excitement begins the night before the contest. Teams employ astrologers to assist in the selection process and to cast spells on the opposition. Each team spend the night prior to the match together in an age-old tradition of sleeping at a secret place depending on the outcome of the astrologer's calculations. Apart from improving team spirit it, it is thought that a man should not spend the night before the tournament with his wife or any woman as his concentration may begin to waiver the following day, the Contest Day.

The tournament itself begins with initiation ceremonies and a traditional breakfast. Alcohol flow from early in the day and spirits are always high. As the day advance and the alcohol takes effect, the archery match becomes more raucous. Opponents whisper obscenities into their adversary's ears and dance diversionary dances in front of the target. Women from each village participate in the fun by singing for their team and jeering at the opposing team. In modern days, District level, Regional level and National level tournaments are held twice, one each on traditional bamboo bows and modern compound bows imported from the United States of America. The National Level tournaments are held in Thimphu every Spring and Autumn seasons.