The Archers Of Bhutan

6 March, 2015


Just watched this documentary from the early 2000s about Bhutan featuring archer Tshering Choden, who competed for the Himalayan nation in the Olympics. It might be the only country in the world where archery is the national sport, but it takes serious dedication to be an archer in a region where the selection competition might be a terrifying 20-hour bus journey away.

Tshering, born on 1st January 1979, had an interesting Olympic career which you can read about here (no spoilers). The film also covers a traditional archery competition in a nation where literally every village has an archery field. Most archers compete hit-or-miss at a distance of about 145 meters (476 feet) – interestingly, the same standard distance as Korean traditional archery.

Archery, luck, tradition and religion are closely intertwined in Bhutan. I’m willing to bet your local county tournament doesn’t involve specially composed songs sung by everyone’s wives, ritual magic involving menstrual blood, or a ban on sex the night before. The star of the film is really the extraordinary country and its culture, poised on the precipice of modernity – although it’s reassuring to see that rude jokes and playing cards for cash are cultural universals, amongst much else. Enjoy.

FYI: this seems to be a re-voiceovered version of a German documentary called Die Bogenschützin von Bhutan (The Archer Of Bhutan) – with a barely-edited English translation, and the credits stripped off for some reason. Anyway, enjoy. 

More on Bhutanese archery: this article on the national championships from the New York Times in 2013. 


2 comments on “The Archers Of Bhutan

  1. Walter

    This girl is real inspiration for all of us, she has showed it that it doesn’t matter where you from it doesn’t matter from what tride you are but the only thing that matter is “how bad you want it”


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