Mongolian Traditional Game
Ankle Bone Shooting

Ankle bone shooting is an authentic Mongolian traditional game that has longstanding history. Generally, scholars would date back its origins to the era of Mongol Empire where only elites played for their pleasure in their courts. However, others date back to the ancient times due to its ties with nomadic culture. 

The game was forbidden during the communism but it was kept secretly like many other aspects of Mongolian culture. In 2001, the ankle bone shooting was officially adopted as fourth form of sport played at the Naadam, Mongolian Celebration of Independence during July 11-13.

These videos were recorded by me during California tournament in Los Angeles. I too participated in it. I am just a rookie been playing about half a year. The targets - hasaa - originally made of sheep and goat ankle bones, nowadays made of plastic, however, the darts or bullets - sum - are made of real animal bones, mainly, of a deer. The board is called - hashlaga.

A team is comprised of 6 players and a game has two rounds, one on their own wooden box which is called - tsurkhai. The second round is played in the opponents' tsurkhai. Each team has their own 15 pieces of hasaa. Every time a player hits a hasaa on tsurkhai, does not matter whose hasaa, the team gets one point by taking one hasaa and placing it on their score board.

Each player has 4 shots in a set, there is no limits to the sets or time limits. A set means when two players from each team sit in a distance of exactly 4 meters and 72,5 cm from the target. All players rotate. It is a team sport, there are starters and snipers too.

A team wins if they first get 15 points which means all their hasaa are on their score board. Now they can get extra points by shooting opponent's hasaa. So, if in the first round team A wins and gets extra 2 points but looses in the second round by two points, teams break tie by shooting a duujin - small coin.

Oficcialy, ankle bone shooting is a manly sport but women play as a recreation. Men over 65 shoot from a chord gun as seen on the videos. Mongolian traditional game of Ankle Bone Shooting is getting an appreciation and recognition not only as an official sport but also a cultural identity of Mongolian people worldwide.