Beyond the Bullseye: A Vision for Safer Archery

Every year, the national referral hospital in Thimphu records no fewer than 10 archery-related accidents, some of which prove fatal. These incidents, often involving compound hunting bows, signal a pressing need for collective action to address safety concerns, safeguarding both archers and spectators.

The charm of Bhutanese archery lies not only in precision but also in the traditional rituals accompanying each shot. Yet, these rituals, when taken to extremes, pose a significant threat, turning archery fields into arenas of “threats and abuse,” as noted by a concerned foreign journalist.

Preserving the essence of our national sport while prioritizing safety requires meaningful change. Strengthening safety facilities and enforcing stricter rules at the iconic Changlimithang archery range is a start, but it cannot eliminate the inherent risk of fatal accidents.

A more radical solution is proposed—the relocation of archery ranges beyond the city precincts. This move, while seemingly drastic, offers a pragmatic approach to protect lives and ensure public safety. The danger lies in the sport itself, especially when played with compound hunting bows designed for hunting, carrying a force that transforms a simple sporting activity into a potential hazard.

The relocation to safer areas does not signify a sacrifice of tradition or cultural significance; rather, it opens new possibilities for the evolution of Bhutanese archery. A safer environment encourages a more relaxed and enjoyable atmosphere, fostering camaraderie among archers and spectators without the looming threat of danger.

Archery deserves not only pride but also a commitment to safety. To preserve the sanctity of our national sport, we must embrace change and relocate archery ranges to safer spaces. This transition ensures that the sport retains its cultural essence while eliminating unnecessary risks that threaten the well-being of our archers and the public.

Embarking on the journey towards a safer, more enjoyable archery experience aligns with the spirit of Bhutan, where tradition and safety can harmoniously coexist. As custodians of our national sport, it is our responsibility to navigate this transformation, ensuring that the archery fields of Bhutan continue to be arenas of celebration rather than sources of peril.

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