Tejo: The Colombian Game of Gunpowder and Precision

The indigenous inhabitants of central Colombia are believed to have invented the game of turmequé, or tejo, more than five centuries ago. Today, tejo is an explosive national sport enjoyed by Colombians, and foreigners, countrywide.

 

Photos by Erika Piñeros.

 

The game

Playing tejo is fairly straightforward… Toss a metal disc (disco) towards a clay box (cancha) and aim for the metal ring (bocin) in the middle. The bocin is lined with envelopes of gunpowder (mechas) which makes for a explosive sound once hit.

 

The tejo disco, canchas and mechas at a Club de Tejo in Bogota. © Erika Piñeros

 

The game is heavily dependent on drinking in recreational circuits where sounds of popping mechas are accompanied by crates of light lagers. In Bogota, tejo is free provided a case of beer is purchased and consumed during play.

 

 

Where to play tejo in Bogota

Tejo can be played throughout the city. Club de Tejo La 76 (Carrera 24 #76-56) and Club de Tejo La 77 (Carrera 24 #77-40) are local tejo clubs also frequented by foreigners. Additional tejo clubs can be found through a search of “canchas de tejo” on Cívico Bogotá.

 

Club de Tejo La 76 in Bogota, Colombia. © Erika Piñeros

 

 

… And a few more tips

Safety

Tejo clubs are generally safe provided one goes in a group and plays during the daytime. Avoid carrying anything of value to the club and take turns watching each other’s belongings during play.

 

Useful resources

Veinte Mundos has more on the history of tejo (in Spanish) and professional play while Medellin Living chronicles a first timer’s experience playing the game.

 

 

 

Erika is a Colombian-Australian photographer and journalist whose work focuses on documenting social inequalities and human rights violations around the world. You can follow her journeys in Cambodia and abroad here.