Dry firing ensures no dry spell for Indian shooters
With events cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic and people forced in their homes under a national lockdown, Indian shooters are nevertheless keeping things sharp.
Unable to get to a firing range, most shooters have resorted to dry firing in their homes to ensure that they stay active, stay healthy and stay focused.
While not a single shot leaves their pistols and rifles, the exercise helps them to ready their posture, work on their balance, focus on breathing, build muscle memory and keep their eyes sharp.
Air Rifle shooter Divyansh Singh Panwar is confined to the apartment of his coach along with three other aspiring shooters. Their day begins at 5am in their shooting jackets for three 40-minute sessions of dry firing.
"When you're in a shooting range, your attention is always getting pulled towards the scores," 17-year-old Divyansh Singh Panwar explained to Firstpost. "But when you're dry firing, then you're only concentrating on your technique. This is why I believe dry firing is more beneficial for a shooter.
"To make it fun for them, all of them grade themselves on how they performed in each session. Whoever finishes at the bottom has to wash the utensils," he added, suggesting an element of competition amidst the practice.
Ace Indian shooter Anjum Moudgil, who bagged an Olympic quota during the 2018 World Championships, concurs that dry firing is critical.
"Dry training is a really, really important part of our training, we do it even when we are training at the range," the 26-year-old 2018 Commonwealth Games silver medallist and Arjuna Award winner told the Times of India. "We do 30 minutes to an hour of dry session before live shooting.
"It has a really good effect on muscle memory," she emphasised.
Pistol shooter Abhishek Verma, who bagged a Tokyo Olympics quota place by clinching gold in the 10m Air Pistol event at the Beijing World Cup last year, is currently at his home in Chandigarh while his training tools are some 300kms away in a guesthouse in Gurugram.
While he could have had the equipment to train better, he has to now resort to only dry firing.
"I like to practice 365 days a year but right now I am able to do only dry practice," the 30-year-old told Firstpost. "When I came home, the plan was to only stay for two-three days, but then the lockdown was announced and I got stuck here."
Home on the range
While some may have resorted to dry firing, a handful have had the privilege of continuing practice at home, like the world no. 5 rifle shooter Apurvi Chandela who is stationed in Jaipur.
"Luckily I have a shooting range at home, so my training has not been hampered," Apurvi Chandela, who secured her Tokyo Olympics quota in 2018, told the Times of India.
"That's the only thing in my control as of now, to just focus on getting better technically and physically."
Gold medalist pistol shooter in the 2018 Commonwealth Games, Manu Bhaker too is taking advantage of her indoor shooting range at her home in Jhajjar, Haryana.
"I'm able to practice with an in-house shooting range. It's manual. So I can't do it for a long time. But for a short period, it's good," the 17-year-old, who trains for four to five hours daily after starting her day with yoga at 6 AM, told the New Indian Express.
"It was actually a gallery, and two years ago, my dad turned it into a range so that I can practice whenever I am at home," she revealed to the Times of India.
Besides dry firing, the Indian shooters continue to keep themselves fit as well, with most of their physical training regimes continuing at their homes.