Tradition of toxophily of of Xibe Ethnic Group
Xibo people are good at horse riding and arrow shooting traditionally. Bow and arrow possess an important position in Xibo people daily life. As the tool and weapon, bow and arrow have been accompanied that nationality always. People use them to defend against enemies as well as hunt and fish.
According to the tradition, if boys are born, Xibo families must hang a little bow and a little arrow on their gates. When boys grow up to 5 or 6 years old, their parents will make bow and arrow for them, so boys can practice at any moment. When 15 or 16 years old, they are organized in groups based their living blocks to practice dawn and dusk each day; there are coaches to direct them. All men more than 18 years old must experience a strict examination of riding and shooting, and those who pass the examination will be registered as “Armoured” and enjoy the superior prestige; those failed persons are called as “idle” and are contemptible. Thus, becoming a successful archer is most men’s ideal.
On the Xibo gregarious region, each village has arrow shooting fields and each family own bow and arrow. Arrow shooting fields can be set up easily. In an open field, 2 poles are erected with a piece of cloth or felt hung between them; thus target comes into being. Some people make straw dummy target also. In the past, arrows and targets must be made daintily. Ancient style ringing arrows use animal bones as arrowhead, which is sharp round shape with 4 pores bored. When a ringing arrow is launched, pore-passing air will ring loudly. Ancient-style targets are made of horsehide and felt, which have cloth circles of 6 colors on them with red target center. When archers shoot, the hit circle will drop; thus the score can be calculated easily.
In some place, ox or sheep will be awarded to winners as honors, and winners will hang their arrows on the heads of ox or sheep. However, they could not claim the trophies themselves, all on site people will share the cooked ox or sheep. Competitions will be organized as old, middle and young groups. The distance of shooting is varied; it can be 240, 80 or 100 steps long. And the competitions can be separated as standing or riding. Nowadays, arrow shooting performance or competitions will be convened in Spring festival, “4.18” Festival and Mid-autumn Festival. In 70s of last century, Chabuchar autonomous country had founded their team of toxophily and cultivated many excellent archers for China. Xibo archers have participated many national and international championships and won 40 gold medals for 20 years; they earned honors for Xibo nationality as well as China.