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Archery is our national sport. We take pride in it, as we must. But we also know that it is a dangerous sport. It has hurt and killed many. It will hurt and kill many.

A 14-year-old boy was hit by a stray arrow that came flying from the range in Changlimithang on Saturday. The boy, along with his friends, was playing volleyball just a few metres away from the archery range.

We must have our national sport and it must be promoted. It’s part of our national identity. It is among the many unique elements that define who we are, individually and nationally. But, just because archery is our national sport, we can’t ignore the danger it poses to the people.

The media, print and visual, have been relentlessly lobbying to take archery ranges far away from the bustling communities.

Our towns and cities are increasingly becoming unsafe. Take Thimphu, for example. With growing population, the city is becoming dangerously compact. This trend will, unfortunately, only continue. Instead of making it healthy—with safe and desirable recreational facilities such as green and spacious parks—we are approving more archery ranges.

Today, archery ranges have laid the capital city to siege, so to speak. The threat of getting hit by a stray arrow is ever-present and is growing.

Forgetting archery for a while, one of the things that we need to take definite action on is the fuel station. Thimphu has one right in the centre of the city. It is a fact well known that despite all the health and safety guidelines in place, fuel stations pose significant hazards.

Round-level ozone, caused in part by gasoline fumes, and groundwater hazards from leakage of petroleum products, are some of the dangers that we have long turned a blind eye to. It was not a problem when Thimphu was literally a jungle. The lack of perspicacity on the part of our planners then can’t be blamed. We could not foresee the capital city growing at this rate.

But the reality is changing. Going by how Thimphu has grown and will continue to grow, a fuel station in the middle of the city is a time bomb waiting to explode. Authorities must walk in and have it moved away, far away from human settlements. It can be done. The safety of the city and its residents must be the priority.

Similarly, the archery ranges must go, far away from human settlements. It is incumbent on the presidents of sport(s) associations to remove dangerous sports facilities away to safer locations. 

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