Wondrous Xinjiang: Archer aims to promote traditional sport

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URUMQI, Oct. 7 (Xinhua) -- Wu Junliang, from the Qapqal Xibe Autonomous County of northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, took a liking to archery in childhood.

With a well-built body and strong arms, the now 33-year-old entered a local archery training school at 15. Practicing for more than 10 hours every day, he soon became one of the best archers at the school.

During an archery activity in 2009, Wu encountered some elderly archers who competed with the traditional bows and arrows that are often used by people of the Xibe ethnic minority.

"Traditional bows have no sighting device. Judging wind speed, wind direction and strength all depends on an archer's intuition," Wu said. "I was immediately enthralled by the synergy of the men and bows in the sport."

He had a traditional bow made using wood, beef tendon and other materials, weighing much less than modern bows. He then embarked on an archery career using traditional bows and arrows.

Chinese people have practiced archery for thousands of years, and bows and arrows were important military weapons for a long time. In modern times, archery has gradually evolved into a sport with rich cultural elements.

With solid skills and through hard training, Wu won gold medals in all individual events at a national traditional archery tournament in 2011, making a name for himself in the archery circle.

This year, Wu for the first time competed in mounted archery at Xinjiang's sports meet for ethnic minority groups.

"Medals are less important for us at the sports meet," Wu said. "We want to use the valuable platform to promote traditional archery culture and have more exchanges with archers of all ethnic groups."

In May 2021, the traditional archery of the Xibe ethnic minority was included on the national intangible cultural heritage list. As a prefecture-level inheritor, Wu has made it his new mission to promote the cultural heritage form.

From time to time, Wu coaches children at a middle school and a primary school in Qapqal Xibe Autonomous County, where archery courses have been established with the support of the local government.

In March, Wu launched a company to promote archery culture and help locals engaging in the sport to increase their incomes.

Wu's company has opened archery practice fields at various scenic spots in Xinjiang where tourists can play the sport for fun. He also plans to raise the incomes of local archery craftsmen and women by selling the souvenirs they make.

"With China's emphasis on the passing on of intangible cultural heritage, more and more people are starting to love traditional archery. I hope to train more young archers and promote the development of the traditional sport," Wu said. Enditem

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