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Archery in Mongolia

In Mongolia, one may observe the world's best archers and receive firsthand knowledge of the skill's secrets


The entire world knows Mongols as the finest archers ever. The art of archery is so ancient in the Siberian lands that it is even difficult to say which came first: Nomadic tribes or archery. In the course of Mongolian history bows and arrows were used as war weapons, for hunting, and finally for sport.

Nowadays, a bow-and-arrow activity is considered one of three Mongolian national sports along with wrestling and horse racing. All three are referred to as Mongolia's "three manly games" and are celebrated during Naadam festivals held throughout Mongolian towns and villages annually in July.

Besides watching archery contests, the sport is actually offered for a try at practically every traditional ger camp, though living up to local standards might be slightly difficult for an average tourist. Mind that local men normally shoot at a distance of 75 m, women shoot at 60 m, and children u​nder 14 are supposed to shoot at 45 m. Of course, novices are allowed to break the rules.

Practical info

What is the Naadam festival and when is it held?

The Naadam festival is an annual Mongolian celebration that takes place in July to honor the country's National independence day. The festival consists of three manly games: horse racing, wrestling, and archery. People from all over the country come to watch the athletes compete and display their talents and cultural heritage. The festival is also an opportunity for the older generation to pass down their skills and traditions to the younger generation. Show more

Where is traditional archery practiced by tourists in Mongolia?

Tourists in Mongolia can partake in traditional archery at the Ger camps throughout the country. Ger camps provide an immersive experience of the authentic Mongolian lifestyle, which also includes learning archery. Although non-professional archers may find it challenging to meet the locals' shooting skills standards, the rules allow beginners to break them during recreation. Show more

When did archery become a Mongolian sport?

Archery was a crucial aspect of ancient Mongolian history, predominantly for warfare and hunting purposes. It became a sport in the 12th century and is now one of three national sports, the others being horse racing and wrestling. The Naadam festival, which is held countrywide in July, highlights these three sports' significance in Mongolian culture. Show more

What is the distance men, women, and children shoot in traditional Mongolian archery?

Traditional Mongolian archery involves men shooting arrows from 75 meters away, women hitting the target at 60 meters, and children under 14 reaching the goal from a 45-meter distance. These distances originate from ancient Mongolian military techniques. The sport focuses on accuracy and shooting techniques rather than strength. Shooting the arrow's fletching and not the arrowhead earns points. Show more

What two other sports, besides archery, are celebrtaed during Mongolia's Naadam festival?

Wrestling and horse racing are two other significant Mongolian national sports besides archery. The Naadam festival, which takes place annually in July, is a celebration of these three sports. Bokh, commonly known as Mongolian wrestling, is an essential sporting event in Mongolian culture where adult wrestlers are categorized by weight and compete in a single-elimination tournament. Horse racing is another crucial sporting event that Mongolians use to show their horsemanship and equestrian skills. Show more

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Last updated: by Eleonora Provozin