Children embrace archery at winter archery coaching camp

To preserve and promote archery, the country’s national sport, the Bhutan Indigenous Games and Sports Association is currently organising a Winter Traditional Archery Coaching Camp for children in Thimphu. During the five-day coaching camp, children will learn how to play archery safely, master archery dance, practice safe bow drawing, and understand the importance of the national sport. Initiated on Monday, the coaching camp will conclude tomorrow with participants receiving certificates.

About 90 students aged between seven and 13 from Babesa Primary School and Chang Rigphel Primary School in Thimphu are taking part in the coaching camp.

Three trainers are facilitating the program, covering essential aspects such as handling bows and arrows, body position, and archery dance among others.

The Bhutan Indigenous Games and Sports Association has been organising similar camps since 2017.

‘‘The main objective of the program is to keep the children engaged during their holidays. Moreover, archery is our national game and the identity of our country. So, we are organising it to preserve and promote our culture,’’ said Tshewang Namgyal, the coordinator of the coaching camp.

The initiative has been well-received by children and parents. They say organising such programs during summer and winter vacations will not only help children stay engaged in meaningful activities but also allow them to acquire extra knowledge.

‘‘Since Bhutan is a country rich in culture, I think we all believe that promoting and preserving our culture is very important. This opportunity has given us the chance to do that and gain a lot of knowledge about archery. I hope that the wonderful piece of archery will always remain in our hearts and the history of Bhutan,’’ said Chozang Dolma Namgay, a participant.

‘‘In the future, I plan to participate in archery as a means of exploring our cultural heritage. Simply staying at home and playing on mobile phones deprives us of the opportunity to acquire knowledge and skills. Through participating in such camps, I have gained new skills and insights about archery,’’ said Sangay Dorji Wangchuk, another participant.

‘‘When Bhutan Indigenous Games and Sports Association provides such an opportunity, it is our duty as parents to guide them properly. This program has given our children the platform to learn and gain knowledge,” said Jigme Tenzin, a parent.

While there is an increase in youth interest in archery, some people raised concerns about the impact of technology on traditional archery. They emphasized the need to preserve culture and modernization.

‘‘At my archery ground, many young archery enthusiasts are unable to join during the day due to work commitments. However, they make it a point to participate in the evening. This has led to a significant rise in the number of young enthusiasts,” said Kencho Namgay, the owner of Rada Phunsum Namgay Archery Ground, Wangdue Phodrang.

‘‘When only one or two individuals play traditional archery alongside compound archers, there are skepticisms about the traditional approach. However, when all the players embrace traditional archery, it becomes interesting.  Currently, we participate in modern archery and youths often share compound bows, cultivating a collaborative spirit,’’ said Drali, an archery enthusiast from Punakha.

‘‘These days most people use compound bows to play archery. They pay more than one hundred thousand to buy it. We hope to preserve traditional archery in Zhemgang. While there are still enthusiasts dedicated to traditional archery, its popularity has diminished compared to the past,” said Jambay Tenzin, an archery enthusiast from Zhemgang.

‘‘In the past, people used to play archery with enjoyment. Wives would join the ground as early as 7 am and the festivities would continue until 5 pm, singing and dancing. However, this trend seems to be waning. The lively spirit that once complemented archery is on the decline,” said Chophel, another archery enthusiast from Zhemgang.

According to the Bhutan Indigenous Games and Sports Association, the association is currently facing a shortage of instructors. However, plans are in place to recruit more and extend similar training in other districts.

Archery was declared the national sport in 1971 when Bhutan became a member of the United Nations.

Related Posts