The last knockout round of the on-going Laya archery championship in Trashiyangtse saw Serbu construction advance to the semifinals yesterday.

A penalty shootout was held between the other two teams, Sonam Gembo construction and Thinley Barchen. With one karay, Sonam Gembo construction qualified along with team Aibak for the semifinals.

The fourth edition of the championship this year is being conducted only for the eastern regions with 18 teams from three eastern dzongkhags. Six teams from Trashiyangtse, Pemagatshel and Mongar are taking part in the 10-day tournament.

Organiser Chimi Dorji said that unlike in the past, winning teams from their respective regions would not have to go to Thimphu for the finals. “It was an expensive affair for archers to travel all the way to Thimphu and compete there for about a week.”

Trashiyangtse has been identified as the centre where nine winning teams from the three participating dzongkhags would meet for the finals.

The Laya archery championship, according to the organisers, had a distinctive format that was aimed to encourage both amateur and veteran archers to participate competitively.

Set at a distance of 145ms, the targets are market with five different colours carrying points from one to five. The celebration dance after each karay is also performed holding flags representing the points earned from the karay.

“From our past experience, it was learnt that many beginners were reluctant to take part in competitions because they felt they were not good shooters,” said Chimi Dorji.

He said that the new format allowed even amateur to get higher scores than those regular archers. “Luck is a major factor that comes to play in such format,” he said, adding that the tournament is being organised to encourage more participation and promote the game of archery.

The match is contested among three teams with five archers each. A total of 13 rounds are played with game-set set at nine points. Unlike other tournaments, there are no substitute players on any teams.

Before the semifinals, a shootout among the top 15 archers from the 18 participating teams would also be held on December 28. The finals will be played on December 30.

Chimi Dorji said that although the participation this year was comparatively lower in the east, the competition would be an annual event hereafter. “The new format is slowly gaining popularity, especially among newcomers.”

Younten Tshedup  | Trashiyangtse