The Ultimate Guide to the Famous Traditional Mongolian Archery

Mongolia has had a long journey and famous history in archery. Famous local folk legends tell us about Erekhe Mergen, the eminent and famous archer who saved the people from a drought by shooting down six suns at that time.

Famous History in Archery

There was a time when the legendary and famous mother of the Mongolian nation wanted to introduce and instigate the idea of unity into her feuding sons due to quarrel, she sat them down before her and gave each an arrow after explaining to them to break it. They could do that easily since they were trained enough. Then she brought each of them six arrows and told them to break them all together at once. None of them could do it. This is how the Mongolian people grasp the strength of unity.  Before the Mongolian people were registered in medieval history, some European predecessors on the steppe-lands of Asia.

The Huns

The Huns Archery mongolia

This is how the Chinese historians described the Huns: “[The Huns] had no written language: they ruled themselves on the basis of the spoken word alone. Toddlers and teenagers could ride on a sheep and draw a bow to hit small birds and rats.

As they grew up, they would shoot foxes and other animals and this was the food that they used to eat. Their warriors were muscular and Herculean archers, and all were armored cavalrymen.

Their army and men, when at peace was to follow their flock of birds of different species, and thus archery and hunting were formed as a part of their way of life. When war threatened, they make use of defenses and attacks so that they could invade or make unexpected attacks or in some cases defend their land.”

 You can see that the Chinese huns’ way of life was very similar to our Mongol nation later.

Shooting the Willow

In the Liao and Mongol states in the later centuries, Chinese and Mongolian ancestors used to play a game called ‘Shooting the Willow’ to elaborate and demonstrate archery skills. This is how the game was portrayed in official history. The official history of the Khitan Liao Dynasty said:

“Two lines of willow branches were commenced in the ground of a field (usually polo field). The players, according to their ranks and classes, chose their branch and marked it with a piece of cloth. Afterward, they move away from the line of the twig a few inches above the field so that the white wood showed. The other archers also follow the lead man shooting with an un-fletched arrow (stiff spine or weak spine) with a horizontal blade for an arrowhead. An archer who could cut the willow branch completely and catch the cut end at full gallop stood first. The second was the ones who could cut the willow twig but couldn’t catch it. Those who missed altogether almost everything were considered losers. When they shot, people chants and beat drums to encourage them.”

Take In the Famous Book ‘Blue History’

From the time of Genghis Khan and the Mongolian nation proper, there are many accounts of great feats of archery. In the book ‘Blue History’, there is a tale of Chuu Mergen who was prey from on horseback at about 120 meters.

Equipment Used In Mongolian Archery

There is a variety of equipment used in modern Mongolian archery festivals. During these festivals, classical composite bows are used to hit blunt-tipped arrows at a wall or a target of rows of small woven circular shaped or cylinders.

Equipment Used In Mongolian Archery

The bow has two nocks, sharp tree bark on the back, painted decoration, and decorative material (shagreen) on each side of the handle. The arrows have wooden handles; four-feather fletching; red paint between feathers and green stingray skin over the tips and adjacent shafts; slightly bulbous self-nocks, and walrus-ivory heads.

The target cylinder is woven rawhide. The bow is usually 67 inches long, 1.6 cm wide at the mid climb, and 0.5 cm thick at mid-climb. Arrows are 37 inches long and 0.3 inches in diameter, heads are 2.2 inches long.

Target is 3.14 inches high and 3.142 inches in diameter.

The archery style of Mongolians is so unique

The archery style of Mongolians is so unique, glorious, and effective that it's almost an art. Since times immemorial, most of the people in the region and around the world have used archery as a sport, for hunting, shooting, and in wars.

Since the start of the modern Mongolian nation, the art of archery was restart as well. In the modern-day, one can easily find it at different occasions, festivals, and among the Mongolians who live the nomadic life.

The Three Styles of Archery

Mongolia helps preserves its three types of archery styles. which are: Uriankhai archery, Buriad archery and Khalkh archery. Uriankhai, Buriad and Khalkh are tribe’ names that are located in Mongolia. Each tribe having their own charms, unique styles and particulars.

Uriankhai archery is well-thought-out to be much harder than various other archery styles and techniques that only men shoot. Uriankhai archery’s target distance is approximately 40 meters, in order to get more points, archers are to hit the target balls which are made by a leather band, which is known as the “chikh” in Uriankhai language and weighs around 350-400 grams, first. Balls must then roll over 20 cm small knoll of soil behind the aligned balls.

In the other two types, the Buriad and Khalkh archery, both men and women are allowed to compete. Women’s target distance that is kept is 30 meters in Buriad archery, but is allocated 65 meters in that of Khalkh archery. Men are required to shoot from 45 meters in Buriad archery and 75 meters in that of Khalkh archery.

The Archery Competition during the Nadaam Festival

The archery competition for the period of the Naadam is considered special. Archers of first three places in Khalkh archery collect a state marksman or markswoman title that is only delivered during the Naadam given from the President of Mongolia. On Naadam days, archers get fully dressed in their traditional handmade costumes and are required to wear traditional hats. Red ribbon that are placed on their hats can tell their rank obtained by them in the archery. More yellow strips in their ribbon means that they are recognized state marksman/markswoman.