BHUTAN ARCHERY CULTURE

WORLD TRADITIONAL ARCHERY ORGANIZATION

The Origin of Bow and Arrow

Da or arrow is literally defined as that which is aimed and directed towards a spot visualized by the mind and seen by the eye. Arrow’s shot after offering prayers toward a target unseen by the eyes are referred to as Yesheypai Da or the Divine Arrow. For example, during the war fought against the British long ago (Duar war fought in 1864-65 between Bhutan and the British.), an arrow was shot from a mountain (Yongla Gonpa, overlooks the Deothang valley in South eastern Bhutan. The arrow was believed to have been shot by Jigme Namgyal, the father of the first king of Bhutan.), towards Dungsam Deothang after supplicating and offering prayers to Yeshey Gonpo, the guardian deity of Bhutan. The arrow is believed to have hit the forehead of the British General and killed him. Such arrows could also be referred to as Yesheypai Da. Hence, Lha are depicted holding bows and arrows. A traditional proverb says, “The Divine Arrow can be seen only when it hits, not when it is shot’. The saying that ‘just as arrow are shot and bows are bent describes young children and attendants who are obedient, complaint and submissive.

The reasons for depicting gods holding bows and arrows have a mythological back ground. The mythical tree Pagsam Joenshing has its roots in the realms of the Lhamin while its trunk grows upward and bear fruits in the realm of the Lha. Jealous at Lha, who enjoy the fruits, the Lhamin waged war against them who are believed to have used bows and arrows as weapons for the first time. Bows and arrows held by gods depicted in their wrathful form are known as the Bow of Knowledge and Arrow of Wisdom. Besides these symbolic associations, bows and arrow are used ordinarily as tools for hunting and as weapons against enemies.

Sithub (Name of Lord Buddha) was the son of a legendary king called Chaseng. It was said that when he shot his arrow, it always hit the enemy; the persons who were killed by his arrow would not go to hell. The legend of Hanuman killing the ten-headed king Lanka with his arrow is also narrated in the text Rigjed Kyi Tamgyu(Ravana was killed by Lord Rama, not by Hanuman). Once Phagpa Chharka (Another name by which Lord Buddha is known), came across young men competing in the five arts of acrobats. He was challenged to demonstrate his skills. He asked for five arrows, and shot four of them simultaneously in four directions in the sky. A raven flying high up momentarily found its way blocked everywhere. Then he shot his fifth arrow and brought down the confused raven. This episode is narrated in the text Kanjur Dulwa.

As a result of prayers said by demons and heretics against the flourishing of the Dharma, four kings of demons by the name Jang Ludud, Hor Gurkar, Jang Sadam and Lho Shingthri were born in the four directions of the universe. They succeeded in destroying the very foundations of the Dharma. In the 10th century, Guru Pema Jungney was born as Ling Geser Gyalpo and eighty Indian sages as his warriors. They subdued the anti-Dharma forces. The main weapons they used were bows and arrows. Ling Gesar’s special arrow was known as Masang Dro Ngama or the five-feathered arrow. After praying that the arrow destroy the anti Dharma forces, he shot it. It is believed that the arrow hit the golden throne of Hor Gurkar Gyalpo with numerous omens. This episode is narrated in the biography of Ling Gesar.

Of the sixty four arts such as acrobats, horse riding discus that were prominent during the time of Lord Buddha, archery was given a high place of honor.

Bhutan Bow
Bhutan Arrow

National Sports

The Bhutan Olympic Committee describes archery as a “celebration of the Bhutanese way of life.” Although archery became Bhutan’s national sport in 1971, love for the sport dates to 600 B.C., when an Indian prince proved his aim, accuracy and strength in an archery contest to win the beautiful princess. Since then and throughout history, the bow and arrow have aided the Bhutanese in battle, ushering in an “era of peace” and welcoming archery as a symbol of festivity and competition.

There are other reasons for considering archery the national sport of Bhutan. The fact that gods in both their wrathful and serene forms are depicted holding the bow and arrow is considered very auspicious. Bows and arrows were primarily weapons of war. Their usage as principle instruments of destroying enemies is clearly elucidated in the biography of Ling Geser. Besides, they were indispensable means of survival to people who lived by hunting. The symbolic and religious significances of bow and arrow are associated with the legendary assassination of the anti-Dharma king, Langdarma in Tibet in the 10th century. Lhalung Pelgi Dorji, a Buddhist monk once performed the Black Hat Dance to entertain the king. In the process, he pretended to prostrate but used the occasion to take out the bow and arrow which were hidden inside the large sleeves of the ceremonial dance costumes. He shot the king dead.

In the 15th century, most of the prophecies of Lama Drukpa Kuenley are believed to have originated from his bow and arrow. Moreover, bows and arrows are indispensable item required for any religious ceremonies or rituals. The usage of arrows such as Ten da, Tshe da, La da, Da dar and Chhe mar during public blessing ceremonies, rituals conducted while a new born baby is taken outside the house for the first time, house construction and other social activities underscore their importance in the daily life of the Bhutanese.

Diagram and illustrations of arrows have also been used (in Bhutan and elsewhere) on signboards as symbols to indicate directions.

Archery has been the favorite sport of our kings who popularized it over generations. People from different social strata consider archery one of the most enjoyable sports. At the least, playing archery helps archers stay fit owing to physical exercise involve din running between targets.

Archery requires concentration. For most part of the day, the mind has to focus on the target in the process of the game. This is a useful mental exercise. Its importance is reflected in the traditional saying, ‘the mind is one whether you are riding a boat or shooting an arrow’.

Archery facilitates socialization among friends and superiors. It is an opportunity for archers to befriend people whom they have not known before.

Bows

The average length of the traditional unbraced sporting bow is 72.5 CMS. The weight of the traditional bow varies between 490 to 500 gms. This bow tapers from 5 CMS in circumference, measured from the end of the lower horn, to 1 cm at the tip of the upper horn. The horns. The horns of a bow are called “Shalu” in Dzongkha. The bow is broadest at its belly measuring, 3.5 CMS in width. It is here that the grip, or “jangshi”, of light willow wood (20.5 to 24 CMS in length and 3.5 CMS in width) is attached.

The bows string, or “Zhu-tha”, is obtained from the fibre of the gaint stinging nettle, locally known as “Zoeche”. In recent years, jute string zhu-tha have also been used. Such bow strings may last through one contest, during which an archer may release as many as one hundred arrows. This bowstring must withstand pressure of up to 60 lbs, drawn with a cast of 145 meters. The bow string is adjusted to suit the needs of the archer by either twisting or loosening the string, creating either a tauter or more flaccid resistance.

The bowstring is braced with the help of the knee by exerting pressure on the belly of the bow. The large eyelet of the bow string grips the nock of the lower horn, and as the bow is braced, the upper eyelet is slipped over the top horn and engaged in the nock. The bow is braced and drawn contrary to the natural curve of the bamboo. This makes the Bhutanese bow akin to the Tartar bow, which is also designed in reflex.

The “Zhu” is a bow the Bhutanese use for the sport of archery. Today there are three kinds of bows in use by the Bhutanese.

Bhutan Traditional Bows
Bhutan Traditional Bows
Bhutan Compound Bow
Bhutan Compound Bow

Arrows

The length of the “Dha”, or arrow, is generally 80 cms, weighing between 20 and 25gms. The shaft is made from a reed (Hema) obtained from the foothills of Bhutan. The head, or “Dhacha”, which is 1cm in diameter, is affixed to the shaft of the arrow with either sealing wax or lachu.

The fletching or feathering extends 12 cms along the shaft. There are four vanes of feathers in the arrow. The feathers used for the indigenous arrows are obtained from the primary feathers of a pheasant. The four vanes are glued to the shaft at right angles by means of “Cheyene”, a Bhutanese adhesive obtained from animal hide. The space below the vanes is colored black. The crest or pung of the arrows usually consists of 7 colored rings of silk thread.

The shaft ends in a nock cut into the reed to the depth of 7 mm. It is in the “Tong”, or nock, that the bowstring fits when the bow is drawn.

Bhutan Arrows
Bhutan Arrows

The Uniform

Bhutanese archers wear bright orange uniforms while competing, traditional Bhutanese archers don sneakers and knee-high socks beneath Ghos, a knee-length robe tied at the waist by a belt-like cloth called a Kera. After shooting a target, archers tie a colorful sash to their belt.

Any able-bodied person, who has acquired a certain proficiency in the sport, can take part in an official archery contest. Like other sports that demand specific clothing, the Bhutanese archer is asked to conform to certain regulations regarding his dress. National dress is a must for everyone taking part in official contests. Caps, hats, or dresses of any kind are not permissible during archery contests. As far as footwear is concerned, there is no particular regulation. However, the NAFB recommends light track-shoes for archers. There are two pieces of optional equipment directly connected with the sport. Finger tabs (Jukshup) are worn on the three fingers of the hand which draw the bow. The protective fingers tabs are made of soft leather and fit tightly round the finger joints. The bracer or arm guard, in soft leather or some other form of synthetic material, laced to the wrist of the bow arm, may also be used. The bracer or arm guard protects the archer from the lash of the bowstring when it is released.

Bhutan Uniform
Bhutan Uniform
Bhutan Uniform
Bhutan Quiver
Bhutan Quiver
Bhutan Target Arrows

The Targets

The target area consists of the following:

According to the National Archery Federation of Bhutan, standard targets (BA) are made of pine wood 3.6’ in height, 11” in width and 2” thick. The targets are rounded off at the top and taper to a point at the base, which is embedded in the ground. The targets are placed at a slight angle facing upwards. These targets are white-washed and marked with colored rings. The bull’s eye is 2.6” in diameter and marked at 1 foot’s distance from the crown of the target. The lower portions of the target are decorated with painted Bhutanese designs, e.g. clouds and flowers in colors coordinated with those around the bull’s eye.

Bhutan Target
Bhutan Target

Dancing

Bhutanese archery competition is complete without dancing. The dances taunt other teams and celebrate the archers’ aim.

“Each team usually has their own group of dancers and singers. They serve not only to cheer for the team, but also to distract their opponents through songs and dances. Every time a target is hit, a kind of howling can be heard.”

“When we play archery, it’s not just archery,” said Kinzang Dorji(Kinzang Dorji, who is the president of the Bhutan Archery Federation), former president of the Bhutan Archery Federation. “The players also have to participate in singing and dancing. Family members also join in, so it’s a kind of a social event.”

In fact, it’s a social event that brings the people of Bhutan and beyond together.

With the Rio 2016 qualifying events approaching, archery fans worldwide are uniting to cheer for their favorite sport. Archery is expanding and gaining new athletes daily, and that’s a reason for “Gross (Worldwide) Happiness” in the archery community.

Bhutan Dancing
Bhutan Dancing

Tournaments

Every village in Bhutan sports an archery field, and no festival or celebration is complete without archery and mask dances. Traditional tournaments between villages are battles for honor, and include feasts and prizes. The tradition continues even now.

Targets at traditional Bhutanese tournaments are placed at both ends of a 145-meter range. Archers shoot one pair of arrows at each target on the opposite end of the range. Competitors dance in celebration when archers hit their target.

Every village has a field for archery; Changlimithang Stadium in Thimphu is one of the kingdom's most prominent archery fields. The most notable archery competition in Bhutan are Coronation National Archery tournament and Yangphel tournament. Other major archery competitions are held during Losar, the Bhutanese and Tibetan New Year.

The distance to the target is about 145 metres (476ft). The relatively small targets are cut from wood and brightly painted, usually measuring about 3 feet (91cm) tall and 11 inches (28 cm) wide. Bullseyes are called karay. Traditionally, Bhutanese bows are made of bamboo, and arrows from bamboo or reeds, fletched with feather vanes. Arrows may be painted and tipped with metal arrowheads. Quivers may be wooden, with an animal hide covering and a woven strap.

Bhutanese archery teams number at 13 players; teams take turns shooting two arrows at a time first in one direction, then in the opposite direction. The first to score 25 points wins, however because the scoring system is complicated, winning can take a very long time. For example, a second hit by an opponent can invalidate the other player's score. In addition, the interplay of wider socializing and festivities, with archery as the nominal focus, gives Bhutanese archery competitions an excruciatingly slow pace. In the past, the most traditional matches could last for as long as a month, though modern matches tend to span a number of days.

Preparations for archery matches are different from other sports: competitors are advised not to spend the night with their wives the night before the competition in order to achieve a high level of concentration. On the eve of a competition, the team spends the night in the woods or in a barn. Opening events precede the initiation and breakfast, and alcoholic beverages can be consumed on the morning of competitions. Teams often employ astrologers to select competing members. In their prognostications, astrologers use puppets (tsip) to symbolize archers, puppets of fate who have no control of their destiny. These astrologers are often hired at substantial fees in archers' attempts to have favorable tsip performances, cast curses against other archers, and gain an upper hand. Astrologers also calculate the time and place for competition.

Modern archery competitions feature compound bows, corporate sponsorships, copious cash and material winnings, injuries, and occasional fatalities. The popularity of archery has raised questions of Bhutan's susceptibility to doping, including by alcohol, in the sport. The increased modern popularity of archery has also drawn attention to the danger in the sport, especially to spectators, residents, and passers by near archery ranges. Since 2010, Bhutan has held the Lyonchen Jigmi Y Thinley Archery Tournament, encouraging the use of traditional bows and the development of gewog teams.

Competing archers also engage in verbal battle, giving players a chance to display intellectual and literary skills. In archery matches, bombarding opponents with verbal confrontation is equally important to scoring bullseyes. Players and teammates praise their own arrows, lend advice and encouragement to each other, and demean opponents in florid literary expressions known as kha shed. Competitors must be prepared to provoke or reply in an equal or more impressive literary fashion.

One such line from a verbal battle goes: “Where the vulture flies, my stone shall fly, there to collide.” (Bjagoed phu sa do chap kay), demeaning the opponent and promising a bullseye to reset his team's score.

Bhutan Tournaments
Bhutan Tournaments

Brief Description of The Game

During tournaments in Bhutan, a team consists of 13 players with two reserves, making a total of 15 players on each team. The target from which shooting is to commence is decided by way of toss. The first to shoot at a contest is a matter of convenience and left to the discretion of the concerned team captains. It is widely believed that this is often determined by the zodiac signs of the players. The archers shoot alternately, on from each team. He is the ‘BU’ as is his contestant who shoots the first arrow. The archer who shoots last for his team is known as the ‘MA’, and usually he is the best striker of the team.

The archers are allowed two arrows every time their turn to shoot comes. They shuttle between the two targets shooting their allotted from each target. The amount of walking the archers have to do is considerable, perhaps 9,000 meters in a well-contested game. A contest may be prolonged over two days or longer in remote villages.

The method of scoring is by points. Two pointers are awarded when the arrow directly hits on any part of the target. This is known as “Karey”. However, if the hit is clearly on the bull’s eye, three points are awarded, this is known as “Gorthibu-Karey” (see figure 9 for types of Karey). When an arrow, firmly embedded the ground, is close enough to the target so that the distance between the target and the arrow is measurable with a team-mates’ arrow, one point is awarded. Archery tournament in Bhutan are played on the basis of the best of three games. Each game is completed when one side attains 25 points. The team that wins two games is declared the winner. The method of scoring points is elaborately dealt with by the National Archery Federation (NAFB) rules and regulations.

Two National Archery Knockout Tournaments are conducted every year. One tournament is on compound bows and the arrows. The summer tournament is usually held between the months of Autumn tournament sometime in October or November.

At official archery tournaments sponsored by the Government, the Royal Dance Troupe stages performances for guests attending the contest. They come on the scene sometime after the midday break.

Bhutan Brief Description of The Game
Bhutan Brief Description of The Game

The Loose

When shooting with a bow, the Bhutanese archer holds it vertically in his hand, clasping the grip (Which is on the outside of the belly of the bow) with his finger, whistle his thumb is pressed against the belly of the bow from the inside. The arrow rests along the index finger of the bow hand, which is held rigid against the handle, and the ‘V’ of the thumb.

The ‘Loose’ (the way of releasing the arrow from the bow) adopted most commonly by the Bhutanese is the one known as the Mediterranean loose or release (figure 8). In this method, the bowstring is drawn with the help of the first three fingers of the right hand, and the nock of the arrow is held between the index and middle fingers. There may be variations in this loose depending on the number of fingers directly used in the draw. Among the Bhutanese this will greatly depend on the styles adopted by the individual player. However, there has been historical evidence confirming the use of drawing rings in Bhutan. This implies that the Mongolian loose did exist in Bhutan in earlier times.

As far as sports in Bhutan are concerned, the last two decades were unquestionably dominated by games like basketball and football. However, the knee interest and the formidable challenge posed by the youth for the first time in the history of archery in Bhutan, during the 1990 National Archery Knock-out tournament, has confirmed beyond a doubt the growing popularity of archery. The National Archery federations of Bhutan is pleased with the outcome and believe that nothing could be better for the future of archery in Bhutan.

Chang limit hang Stadium is a multi-purpose stadium in Thimphu, Bhutan, which serves as the National Stadium. It is predominantly used for football matches and is the home of both the Bhutan national football team and a number of Thimphu-based football clubs who play in both the A-Division and the National League. In addition to football, the stadium also regularly plays host to major archery tournaments, the national sport of Bhutan. The stadium was initially constructed in 1974 for the coronation of the fourth Druk Gyalpo Jigme Singye Wangchuck, but was completely refurbished in 2007 in advance of the coronation of the fifth Druk Gyalpo Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck. Floodlighting was added to the football pitch in 2009 and an artificial pitch was laid in 2012 to coincide with the start of the first season of the National League.

The Bhutan Archery Federation

The Bhutan Archery Federation is both the oldest and youngest among the sporting federations in the Kingdom of Bhutan.

It is the oldest because, in order to regulate the archery traditional matches and tournament, it was established in the 1971 and was then called the National Archery Federation of Bhutan and marks the start of organized sports within the country. With the creation of Bhutan Olympic Committee in 1983, the federation came to oversee international style of archery as well (for participation in the Olympics) and marks the advent of Olympic movement in the country, when Bhutan participated in Los Angeles 1984 Olympics year later with six archers for the first time ever.

Since then, Bhutan has participated in every Olympics in recurve archery and was the sole sport that Bhutan participated in except for the London Olympics 2010, when second disciple of shooting was added.

It is also the youngest among the federations, because it was only in year 2010 that the federation was entrusted with sole mandate of developing the Olympic style of archery. Till then, both the traditional and Olympic style of archery were looked after by the federation (which got its present name in 1990 when the name was changed to Bhutan Archery Federation from National Archery Federation of Bhutan). The traditional archery was to be looked after by offshoot of federation – the Bhutan Indigenous Games and Sports Association.

Presently, Bhutan Archery Federation is developing the elite international style of archery, with training and employment of the national archery team of Bhutan to represent the country in international competitions {Olympics, Continental and World Archery (International Archery Federation) competitions}.

The Bhutan Archery Federation has, for the first time ever, started grassroots program in archery, whereby schools (starting from the eastern side of Bhutan) are being introduced to archery programs along with international level coaching and equipment (though indigenous made meeting international standards). This is to ensure steady pool of talents and to nurture them from critical young age for viable international competitiveness in the future.

Objectives of the BAF
The Bhutan Archery Federation is mandated to promote both forms of archery – the traditional archery played in national tournaments and the Olympic style of modern archery in which Bhutan has been participating inregional as well as major international competitions such as the Olympics since 1984. The objectives of the Federation are :

Archery in Bhutan is more than a sport, it is a living example and a dynamic manifestation of the unique traditions and culture of the Bhutanese people, it is a celebration of the Bhutanese way of life. No festival and no celebration is complete without a game of archery and the game itself is a combination of physical talents and spiritual influences where the deities and spirits are called upon to help a player or a team to perform better and win the contest.

Legend

Throughout the history of Bhutan, fire and the bow and arrow were an important means of survival in the highlands during war and on hunts. The bow and arrow play a significant role in many Bhutanese myths and legends; images of the gods holding a bow and arrows are considered especially favorable.

Symbolic and religious significance of the bow and arrow is associated with the legendary murder of Tibetan King Langdarma in the 10th century. The king had persecuted Buddhism, and thus failed to perform his duty as he made mischief. A Buddhist monk, Lhalung Pelgi Dorji, performed the Black Hat Dance to entertain the king, during which he feigned a bow before the king, drew a bow and arrow hidden in the big sleeves of a ceremonial dance costume, and killed the king.

According to legend, in the 15th century the Buddhist mystic Drukpa Kunley launched an arrow from Tibet, with a prayer that his descendants would flourish wherever it landed. When it crossed the Himalayas and hit a house in Bhutan, he followed it there and seduced the owner’s wife, forever endowing the country with a twinned reverence for archery and the phallus: giant paintings of the latter, spilling semen, adorn buildings throughout the kingdom to protect residents from evil spirits.

The pastime involving narrower shafts gained additional sway in the 1980s when then-King Jigme Singye Wangchuck embraced the compound bow. (He also introduced Gross National Happiness as his country’s chief index of well-being, but that’s another story.)

The Bhutanese still speak of the Indian Prince, who in 600 years before the Common Era (yes, 600 before CE) won the much-sought beautiful princess Yosodhara in archery contest that tested not only accuracy and aim but also strength. The prince later became to be known as the Buddha. This is similar to Rama’s winning of Sita’s hand in much known Hindu epic of Ramayana which is dated around same period 5th Century before CE. Both are much talked about in this largely Buddhist country with some Hindus and followers of other faiths living together.

Buddha’s reincarnation to some and great teacher to the most, 8th century Guru Rinpoche and his mastery over archery is also talked as much. Guru Rinpoche, it is said, could “shoot an arrow through the eye of a needle. He could shoot thirteen arrows in a row, one hitting another, and the force of his arrow could penetrate seven doors”

Tale

It appears that bows and arrows were used as weapons to hunt for a long time. Only during the reign of Gongsa Ugyen Wangchuk, the first King of Bhutan has archery become a sport. He preferred it among other sports and games. The arrows he used for his daily pastimes weighed about 7 tola (Measure of weights for precious metals like gold and silver). However, he had a different set of arrow made specifically to shoot if the target were hit with many arrows of the opponents. They were made from the thick shaft of Zhushing (A species of bamboo used particularly for making bows), not from ordinary bamboo. A metal tip with a flat end was fixed to it. Its purpose is not to hit the target and stay there, but remove all other arrows on the target by its force. It is said that when this arrow hits the target, all others would be let loose, and thereby leave every spectator highly amazed. Similarly, the second king Jigme Wangchuk is known to have taken very keen interest in archery. He would summon all his attendants and the best of archers and play continuously for over twenty days. His zeal and enthusiasm have been a crucial factor in promoting archery among people from all walks of life. The target would be adorned with scarves of different colours. They would be awarded to anyone who hits the target. The scarves would be fastened at the waist of archers. If His Majesty were very pleased with the performance of any archer, he would not only award scarves and clothing materials but also give away betams (Coins) and cash. To those archers who scored the highest hits, he would reward them with bulls and Marzong (Of the two kinds of clothing material traditionally offered as gifts, Marzong is superior and includes woven textiles. The other known as Chazong is inferior and plain). Tandin Dirji, a former judge who now lives in Babesa, Thimphu recalls being awarded Nu. 16, a bull and one Lungsem (Hand woven with intricate designs, it is one of the most expensive of clothes) gho (Dress worn by men) in a single day for his performance. This fact was corroborated by Rabjam Tagchu from Haa, who taught me dacham and by other attendants who played with the King: Bau Zhelngo Tandin Dorji, Phobji Petag, Dragpa, and by Toed Chung, former penlop (Governor of one of the dungkhag or sub-districts of Thimphu. There were traditionally seven dungkhags under Thimphu districts. The post of five governors of these dungkhag known as dungpa were abolished in 1952 while two including Penlop of Toebesa were maintained) of Toebesa. The tradition of adorning the target site and that of awarding scarves to archers who hit the target were initiated by the second king.

On the contrary, His Majesty would command that a barrel of Chhang (Locally distilled alcohol) be offered to others by those archers who do not score a single hit. Even today, people ridicule archers by saying, you are left in the barrel’ if he does not hot the target even once in a match. So talented were the archers then that people like Bau Zhelngo and Tandin Dorji would be considered as those ‘Left in the barrel’ even if they hit the target ten times in a day. Old timers recall that if Tandin Dorji scored fifteen or twenty six times, and therefore, always win by a single hit. Once His Majesty placed a silver Chakar (Container for keeping betel nuts) adorned with gold in front of the target and had the two men shoot at it. One of them hit it and drilled a hole, and challenged the other to split open the closed container. This was done with a single shot. He thereafter challenged the former to hit it yet again and make it unusable. With a single hit, the container was reportedly made unusable.

There were many skilled archers and sharpshooters even in the villages. Agay Pema from Goenchuna, a village located on the way to Punakha was one of them. If he were drunk, others had to let him rest against the target until his turn to shoot comes. Then, one of them had to help him on his feet. Nevertheless, it was said that when he shot, he always scored a dobji (Hitting the target with both the arrows an archer shoots in one round). During a match, two competing teams were unable to win the game as players from each team cancelled the score of the other. Then, Agay Pema placed a bamboo splint in front of the target. It was only as wide as a thumb. He declared that if any archer from either of the team could split it, that team would win the match. As expected, no one could hit it. But Agay Pema split it right from the middle, and his team won.

There also lived a sharpshooter called Damche Wangdi from Wang Simu. It is said that if he were playing in a match, his opponents would never be at peace until he has shot his arrows. Once someone lifted him. His heels were off the ground. He was challenged to hit the target by playing from a levitated poisition. He reportedly yelled saying, ‘Let the target look like a goat with horns’ and scored a dobji, Amazed that his arrows appear to hit as he contemplates (gom), he was nick named Gom Nagchu. After the incident, other archers are believed to have sworn that they would never play a match with him. Damche Wangdi was reportedly a very ugly person with a dark complexion.

The system of claiming stakes in archery matches has also been established during the time of the second King. The saying, ‘One has the right not to play, but even a prince has to play the stake if he lose’ is attributed to His Majesty.

One of the renowned figures of that time was Haa Dungpa Tandin Ngedup. He was a very strong and well-built person. His bow made of pakshing held together by an iron clamp, and arrows made from bamboo tips can still be seen in his house at Changja, Wang Sisina. It is that if his arrows, also made from thick pakshing and tips fixed with metal clamps hit the target, all other arrows would be dislodged ans lose scores. His Majesty came to hear of him and sent an emissary to bring a sample of his bow. He sent the lightest one and asked the emissary to report that he would once submit himself personally to His Majesty. When the bow was submitted, His Majesty commanded that a bowstring be put on it. Even two attendants could not bend the bow. His Majesty then commended that the Haa Dungpa be summoned. During an audience, His Majesty asked him how he could play with his bow when people were unable to put a bowstring on it. He proudly submitted that it was the lightest of his bows, and put the bowstring on it without standing. His Majesty commanded him to prepare for a game in a day or two. Tandin Ngedup could make his own arrows as and when required. His Majesty was pleased to see him even make his own arrow tips. He was awarded many gifts.

Besides archery, he also used to play other sports. At the age of sixty four, he used to play degor (One of the traditional sports played by throwing two flat stones at a target alternatively between opponents), each weighing about 3.5 kilograms. These degor are still found in his house.

Archery as a sport became popular in Bhutan especially during the reigns of the first and second king. Metal arrows, compound and synthetic bows, and bows made of synthetic materials were gradually used during the reign of the third king. They are very popular today.