Archery Gives Bhutan Its Sporting Chance – NYT, September 3, 2013
[Thanks to Tom for pointing this out.]
…Probably the most surprising part of the tournament was how casually everyone — archers, spectators, dancers and even stray dogs — carried themselves around lethal arrows being flung the length of one and a half football fields with varying degrees of accuracy. Dancers wandered onto the pitch throughout the match, arrows whistling yards over their heads. Archers stood feet from the target while their teammates aimed almost directly at them.
“People have confidence in our archers,” Prince Jigyel Ugyen explained during a break in the action. “I’m not sure that’s a good thing.” Indeed, archery injuries are among the most common reasons for hospital admissions in Bhutan, officials said.
One possible reason is that drinking is encouraged during tournaments, as is the competitors’ near-constant chewing of pan, a mild narcotic that stained their teeth red. Taunting opponents is common, and on rare occasions archers stand in front of the target and get shot rather than allow a competitor to win crucial points, though that has become even less common with the more powerful and accurate compound bows…
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