So far, there are only 2 registered archery ranges under the Bhutan Indigenous Games and Sports Association (BIGSA), one at the Samtse and another in the Kuensel Phodrang area in Thimphu.
This means that most of the other archery ranges in all likelihood are not following the safety guidelines issued by BIGSA as Rules and Regulations for Traditional Archery.
Tshewang, Technical and Administrative Executive, BIGSA said that so far, the private archery range construction has not been mandated to follow the BIGSA rules and regulations, however the National Land Commission (NLC) does have certain guidelines for such constructions.
He said that as much as BIGSA with its mandate to promote indigenous games and sports in the country would like to see more locations allotted for these sports, there are certain incidences and places where complaints have arisen.
He said, “About 5 or 6 complaints might have been registered and among that I heard, recently there was one which was settled by the Dzongkhag administration.”
He said, “Although as per our base standards ideally, for safety reasons, the dimension of the archery range or Bacho should be 200-meter long and 10 meters wide, thereby leaving a safe distance of 25 meters behind each target area, excluding the space for spectators on either side, we are not always able to have the proper dimensions due to lack of space.”
He added, “When we went to the archery ranges and inspected, there were not many fields which met the base standard, not even a space as big as Changlimithang would have such possibility perhaps.”
He said that many of the private archery range constructions did consult the association for the need of safety and other requirements, however since they are not yet registered with the association, they do not have control or monitoring services from the association as of yet.
The association is looking forward to have these guidelines being followed by all archery range spaces in the future.
Father Kinley Tshering the former Principal of North Point School and one of the residents living alongside an archery range below Royal Thimphu College had strong objections until recently as there were arrows falling into his compound and he had then lodged a complaint to the Dzongkhag administration in fear for his personal safety.
He said that after reviewing the area, the Dzongkhag administration ensured and have recently put measures in place and he has been assured that there will be hundred percent safety. He said that as long as the assurance sticks, he would not have any objection and says the problem would be resolved.
As per the rules and regulations set by BIGSA, article Xl: General Code of Conduct and Discipline states that Smoking and drinking is strictly prohibited in the play area and no player under influence of any kind of intoxication shall be allowed to participate in the match.
However, according to Tshewang, he said, “Although this is the base standard set in our regulations, due to traditional and customary practice of playing and drinking, we do not have total control over it and so far, have not been able to enforce it altogether.”
He added, “Of course, during tournaments if there are fights arising from intoxication or overly drunk scenarios, then BIGSA has the right to step in and monitor the situation or the match as per the guidelines.”
However, he said that since there are only 2 registered archery ranges under BIGSA thus far, they do not have control over matches other than in the tournaments.
He added, “Sometimes it is not just about the customary trends but players personally doubt they would enjoy the match without at least drinking a little bit of alcohol.”
While traditional bows and arrows are quite impactful a danger is in the use of modern compound bows which are far more powerful.
The mushrooming of archery ranges all across Thimphu and 20 Dzongkhags with quite a few of them some near settlements and roads are a cause of worry with past instances of people being shot and injured.
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