Games and sports are an integral part of social fabric of Bhutanese people. While the men indulge in playing games, the women folks, old people and children amuse themselves watching it cheering their team and teasing the opponents. It is not incorrect to mention that that games and sports keep alive the folk songs & music of Bhutan. As much as the men compete in winning the game, women also compete to show off their artistic movement of hands in dances and melodious voices.
Archery, the national sport of Bhutan since 1971, is a competitive and favourite recreational sport for young and old alike. People from different social strata consider it one of the most enjoyable sport. Bhutanese Archery differs from Olympic standards in terms of target distance and atmosphere. There are two target placed 120m apart and teams shoot from one end of the filed to the other. Each member of the team shoots two arrow per round. Traditional Bhutanese archery is predominantly a social event and there are regular archery matches taking place at different levels. The conversion of archery into a main sport is particularly credited to Bhutan’s twelth Desi Ngawang Gyeltshen. Since then may people contributed in developing it as the national sport. It also passed through different phases and spread across the country as one of the integral part of any festive or special occasions.
Archery can be grouped into three types : Chodha, Rushen Aejay and individual score system. ‘Chodha’ is the most popular among these three and held between different teams like dzongkhas (districts), organization, regions or villages. These elaborate matches & tournaments also involve dancers and cheerleaders who keep both players and crowds entertained. The number of players in ‘Chodha’ is eleven with four substitutes. Though ‘Rushen Aejay’ form is not equally popular but still common because of its flexibility. Under this, teams are not formed in advance instead can be designed after reaching the playfield. The composition of teams can be based on age, mutual agreement or simply by shuffling the arrows of the players into two equal groups. The current trend amongst the weekenders is to play on individual score system where they play against each other and compete round of fixed points.
Khuru (dart game) is other popular outdoor team sport often played during festivals and archery tournaments. The heavy wooden darts, pointed with 10 centimeters nail, are thrown at a paperback-sized target 10 to 20 meters away. It is played all over Bhutan and can continue for entire day.
Degor, is other popular traditional sport played with a pair of spherical flat stones that are hurled at two targets fixed in the ground at a distance of about 20 meters. There are no fixed number of players in this game and it can be played as individual or team sport.
Pungdo, Bhutanese version of shot-put, is also popular traditional sport, played by throwing a stone, as far as possible. Like shot-put, in this this game also, the throwing movement is from the shoulder, with stone held flat in hand.
Soksom, is another local sport resembling javelin throw in which players throw a javelin at distance of 20 meters.
The modern sports such as soccer, golf, tennis, basketball, boxing table tennis, badminton, volleyball, taekwondo & cricket also gaining popularity in the country and national teams participating in various international tournaments including South Asian Federation and Olympic games.