Meet the team: Bhutan’s Shanghai World Cup squad
Tshewang Dorji, Tashi Peljor and Karma Sherab have the honour of being Bhutan’s first compound Archery World Cup team. The men’s trio admitted to being a little intimidated by the big stadium, but said they were enjoying themselves in Shanghai.
“Compound archery is part of the traditional heritage of Bhutan,” explained team manager Minjur Dorji.
“We wanted to give the compound athletes some exposure on the international circuit. Give them some on-field experience, some experience of how people shoot – and hopefully they will improve for it.”
They did not arrive in Shanghai unprepared, though. The group went to Bangkok for a week of competition simiulation.
The fourth and final member of the Bhutanese squad in Shanghai is shooting in the recurve men’s competition. Kinley Tshering, whom Bhutan has high Olympic hopes for, is shooting a familiar bow: It’s bright pink.
In fact, it’s the bow Brady Ellison shot in around 2010 – when he dominated the indoor circuit and won the first of his Archery World Cup Final Champion titles.
At this time, Brady donated a portion of his winnings to breast cancer research.
“It was planned that Brady would come to Bhutan to shoot and then leave his bow,” Tshering explained. “He couldn’t come in the end, but he did still donate the equipment and I’m using it.”
While he’s not yet achieving the results Brady did with the riser, Kinley’s talent is undeniable. At the Asian Games in Incheon last year, he beat London 2012 Olympic silver medallist Takaru Furukawa – and finished in the top 16 at the event.
“That felt great,” he said, coyly.
The promising Tshering is part of a 12 athlete recurve squad training full-time towards the Bhutanese Olympic team at Rio 2016.
The three compound archers in Shanghai – Dorji, Peljor and Sherab – are the country’s full international compound squad. They do have their own jobs but train part-time together.
“A couple of years ago we had some official trainers from the USA visit,” Minjur explained. Sixty archers were chosen from the hordes of people who use compound bows in Bhutan’s traditional archery competitions, without release aids or sights.
“They were then ranked in competition – and these three were top.”
“We have a huge resource of compound archers in Bhutan.” The challenge, said Minjur, was converting the traditional archers into competitive ones. In Shanghai, Bhutan showed progress in that project.
The team has the opportunity to learn from some of the world’s best at the Archery World Cup stage. Tshewang Dorji already admitted to watching the Netherland’s Mike Schloesser on Archery TV for tips on using a release aid to good effect but have the opportunity to learn in person.
Wearing bright orange uniforms, keen to improve and already with an identity, Bhutan’s Shanghai squad, the “Team from the Land of Happiness” are the perfect ambassadors for the nation’s new venture into compound archery.