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Bhutan is home to a number of indigenous sports, including its traditional archery. Although the country increasingly plays a number of modern sports, including football, basketball, boxing, and cycling, the appeal of traditional sports is still strong. And that’s good news for Bhutan’s cultural preservation efforts as well as a foreigner’s curiosity.

Among the many traditional sports, archery, khuru (a dart like game), and doegor (a game in which a pair of stone slab is thrown at a distance to land over or near a stick target driven into the ground) are popularly played in the villages as well as towns. Among them, archery is, by far, the most popular.

A tourist will find the traditional game of archery riveting. It involves archers shooting a pair of arrows at small targets some 120 metres apart even as woman dancers cheer them on or jeer at them. The dancers of the opposing team will taunt an archer by singing loudly about his physical appearance. For example, when a lanky man shoots, the woman dancers would sing thus: The crane will miss the target. Let the arrow soar high; let it be grounded; let it be deflected.

Traditionally, archery in Bhutan is played with bamboo bows and reed arrows. The making of bamboo bows and reed arrows involves a set of skills, including bamboo crafting, feather fletching, and string making. However, today an increasing number of Bhutanese play the traditional archery on imported compound bows and metal arrows.

Any archery game is colourful and often noisy. Richly on display at an archery match are raw Bhutanese humour mixed with a good dose of alcohol, fatty food, and betel nuts.  

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