Try your hand at archery

Bhutan's national sport of archery (or datse) is a serious business in the ‘Land of the Thunder Dragon' and noisy competitions are commonplace throughout the country. In every town, village and settlement you will find space dedicated to the national sport and it is interesting for visitors to stop and watch the usually highly skilled archers try and hit tiny targets from great distances.

Archery contests take the form of two teams trying to score the most ‘points' or collect the most coloured scarves. The targets are placed 140m apart and each player takes it in turn to try and hit the target. A successful aim will result in the awarding of a coloured scarf to the archer which he will then insert into his belt. The more scarves the better the archer. A target hit will also give rise to a victorious song and dance routine, whereas a miss will provide an opportunity for the opposition to lampoon the archer. As such contests often take place on national holidays, they can be fuelled by a drink or two, and so can become raucous affairs.

Both traditional wooden bows and the new lightweight carbon fibre, or aluminium, bows are used in Bhutan although the modern, more powerful, bows usually mean that the targets are placed further part. The love of archery, and the adoption of modern equipment, means that Bhutan now harbours serious Olympic dreams. However as of yet success at the games has eluded Bhutan, but for how much longer one wonders?

If you would like to have a go at archery we can arrange for you to join in the fun and take a lesson. The best place to do this is in Thimphu or Paro.

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