Lhakpa Quendren

Buli—Two households in Buli, a village within the Nangkor Gewog in Zhemgang, have submitted an appeal letter to gewog administration asking for the archery range, situated near their homes, to be moved.

The families made this request due to frequent incidents of stray arrows hitting their homes, which have raised concerns about the safety of their lives.

Gewog administration is yet to respond.

One of the targets is placed very close to the houses, with a footpath passing directly in front of it. The other target is positioned a few meters below the community lhakhang, with another footpath running behind it.

The archery range, according to some locals, predates the construction of the two houses. Later on, additional features like lighting systems and corrugated iron galvanised sheet (CIG) roofing were added to the range.

Tshering Dorji, a resident of one of the houses, said that there have been a few instances where stray arrows accidentally hit the houses. “Arrows landing outside the range poses a threat to residents.”

He expressed worry about the safety of their children who often play around the house. “We even fear going to the tap at the doorstep to wash clothes.”

They are hopeful that the authorities will promptly address this urgent issue.

A tenant said: “There is a risk of archers losing control and accidentally hitting commuters and nearby residents. Mishaps could pose an even greater danger if relocation is not considered.”

Expressing concerns about the safety of the archery range, 70-year-old Jigme recounted an incident from his youth when a friend was struck by an arrow. “We were walking arm in arm during the festival at the temple,” he recalled.

Residents say that archers at the range predominantly use compound bows, which are considered more hazardous. The employees of Burgangchhu Hydropower Project are among the primary users of the range, they say.

Nangkor Gewog Administration has referred the matter to the Zhemgang Dzongkhag Administration. In response, the dzongkhag administration has redirected the gewog to handle the issue, emphasizing the importance of addressing safety concerns as a priority.

Zhemgang Dzongda, Kesang Jigme, acknowledged the public concerns and said that he has instructed both the gup and mangmi to address the matter.

“Although the archery range is not new, there is a need for relocation due to the potential safety risks associated with it,” he said. “The safety of residents and commuters should be prioritised.”

Nangkor Gup Singye Wangchuk declined to comment, saying that the gewog awaits direction and guidance from the dzongkhag administration.

The archery range has become a significant concern not only for the residents but also for pilgrims visiting sacred sites in Buli, who have expressed similar safety concerns for the nearby residents.

“We should support the national game, but it is important to build the range in a safer location,” said a pilgrim. “Most of the archery ranges in our country are not safe, with many of them located along roadsides.”

Another archery range was later established on the same ground along Gewog Centre road, about 80 meters below the existing range, but it remains inactive due to a lack of infrastructure. One of the footpaths passes through this archery range.