07 April 2011

Archery: The Lost National Game of Bhutan

Bhutan's biggest fear, when we first ushered into the global community was losing our culture amidst rapid change. Our timid country soon joined the race, and surprised many a country with our ability to balance development with preservation.

Picture Source: BBS Website
However, despite all the effort, we saw the inevitable power of change crossing the limits. While there are many issues identified and addressed, there are a few bigger problems totally ignored. One such problem is our National game, which is already lost but it doesn't seem so because another form of archery has picked up. The actual national game archery is played using bamboo bow and arrow, which requires more skill and strength than money to play. 

If American Hunting bows and arrows, equivalent to guns, are considered substitute for our National Game, then one day Crossbow will make its way into our game, and then the guns themselves. Ten years from now we may have to take our children to museums to show what our national game was like. 


  1. I'm sad about this too, PaSsu. My latest post was on archery, even before I saw your post. I've just passed my basic qualification in archery using the simplest modern bow (recurve). I chose that because I preferred the traditional Bhutanese style to the new compound bow style.

    I also think that Bhutan doesn't do as well as it should in Olympic archery because serious Bhutanese archers have become too dependent on compound bows.

  2. @Murray, Thank you for commenting here. You are right, we are nowhere in Olympic. Now Archery has become the game of riches and snobs. Just go any see, everybody will be talking about the cost of their bow... game has become secondary.

  3. Hering long ago that Archery was you country's national sport made me proud to be alive. My daughter read book full of fun fact and she shared this with me! Not even Mongolia, famous for their horse archers has it as their national sport! I really hope people there can find some way to preserve it. More than even just the sport opportunity, the for people to meet and have something to talk about is so important. We have so much isolation here in the West. We pride ourselves on our self sufficiency, but we are so good at it that we are alone. Man, when I read about your sport years ago I said, "Those people are real badasses( tough, cool)! Archery as the national sport? Excellent!" This should be a source of pride and a mark of your people's wonderful uniqueness in the world!


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