ATARN and the Hong Kong Island Archery Club Organise a Joint Workshop on Mongolian Traditional Archery
Photographs courtesy of So Fai-sing
ATARN joined together with the Hong Kong Island Archery Club to hold a workshop on Mongolian archery on 14 March, under the guidance of six-time ladies' champion Choijelsurengiin Munkhtsetseg, who was visiting Hong Kong on a police training scholarship.
Munkhtsetseg has recently published a detailed account of the history and technique of Mongolian archery in 'Instinctive Archer' Magazine (Spring 1999 edition.) Based on the article, Stephen Selby introduced the Mongolian bow, its construction, and an outline of Mongolian competitive traditional archery on behalf of Munkhtsetseg (who does not speak English.)
We looked at a number of traditional Asian bows, including Mongolian, Chinese, Korean and a 'strength bow' used for military exercises. Before the workshop, some members had an interesting time watching how Munkhtsetseg drew upon two decades of experience to remove a twist in a Mongolian horn-backed bow (heating the limbs on an electric fire and twisting them in the rungs of an iron railing). She also strung up an antique Chinese bow which had not been strung for many years, tying the ends of the limbs to the level top of a railing with a brick placed beneath the grip and leaving it for two hours in the hot sunlight to 'set'.
The highlight of the event was Munkhtsetseg's own display of Mongolian archery technique. Every member had a go at shooting at the target (a cardboard box twenty metres down-range) using a traditional Mongolian bow and arrow. Most used a Mediterranean draw, although Munkhtsetseg demonstrated the details of the Mongolian draw (without resorting to a thumb-ring!) The Mongolian bow produces a lot of hand-shock, and so it takes some getting used to.
Munkhtsetseg wore the full uniform of the Mongolian National Hero of Archery (Mergen). In fact, she sometimes innocently wore it out and about in the streets of Hong Kong, causing quite a stir as she passed!
She had some interesting and exciting news from Ulaanbaatar. Realising the growing appeal of traditional archery, her sports institute and the Mongolian Archery Union have started training in mounted archery again (it has not been seen in Outer Mongolia since the 1950s) and for the Millenium, they plan to have a full competitive team shooting at full gallop. (I shall be going up to watch them practice in June.)
Munkhtsetseg repeated her wish to see more traditional archery enthusiasts in Mongolia, so she can spread the word about Mongolia's traditions and learn from foreign friends.
October 09, 2000