But organizers are worried that such habits could result in an injury

Archery: Hundreds of spectators turned out for the semi-finals of the Druk Wangyal National Archery Tournament at Changlimithang, yesterday.

This was one of the highest turn outs recorded at the tournament, according to a tournament official, Yoesel Dorji. He said safety concerns over the large audiences is becoming an issue as spectators crowd near the target, sometimes even blocking the sight of the archers.

Yoesel Dorji said that although audiences are informed not to get near the target while the game is in process, most of them don’t comply. “We try to control the crowd but in the midst of the excitement from the game most of them are lured towards the target,” he said.

To prevent spectators from getting hit by an arrow, boundary lines near the target are marked. However, people are seen crossing the lines to get a better view of the game. With all the spectators seated on the ground near the target, the spectator-stands at the archery range are usually deserted.

Sherab Dorji, who had come to witness the game, said that the experience is not the same while watching the game from the stand. “The real thrill lies in watching the game from up-close near the target,” the 57-year-old said. “It’s very safe and unlike in the past, the archers today are more experienced and precise with their aim.”

Amongst the local spectators, two tourists from the United Kingdom were also seen relishing the thrill from the game. “This is very exciting, I’ve never seen something like this before. The atmosphere here is very lively and filled with energy,” said Kate Williams. “Getting near the target is a bit precarious but we feel safe and we trust the archers with their skill.”

Wayne Arnold said that the archers look professional with their precision. “This is a high degree of skill, hitting the target with such precision must have taken a lot of practice,” he said.

A few more tourists joined the crowd as the match entered its climax. Druk Green Power Corporation defeated Draley Gyalwai Duetshen to enter the finals of the tournament against Norlah.

The finals will be played on December 26th and 27th at the Changlimithang archery range.

Younten Tshedup