‘Lockdown has helped Indian shooters improve fitness’ - Rifle coach Deepali Deshpande

Shooting will be one of the strongest suits for the Indian contingent at the Tokyo Olympics as an unprecedented 15 shooters are set to participate at the Games.

By Samrat Chakraborty ·

Stock-still firing posture is a key area of focus for rifle shooters and Tokyo-bound Indian shooters have been working on their fitness to maintain it during the Olympics next year.

Shooting will be one of the strongest suits for the Indian contingent at the Tokyo Olympics as an unprecedented 15 shooters are set to participate at the Games. Almost seven months before the Tokyo Olympics, which gets underway from July 2021, Indian shooters have begun their practice in New Delhi and are leaving no stones unturned.

Incidentally, the Indian shooters used the hiatus due to the novel coronavirus pandemic to their benefit as they worked on their fitness, to return much-fitter for the ongoing rifle shooting camp.

India's high-performance rifle coach Deepali Deshpande was mighty pleased to see every shooter looking fitter after the break in training due to the pandemic. Their fitness also forced them to make necessary changes in their equipment as premier Indian shooter Apurvi Chandela needed new trousers while Divyansh Panwar had to be provided with a new jacket. He specifically worked on his core muscles and lost two kilograms during his home-bound training.

Divyansh Singh Panwar in Deepak Dubey's flat in Faridabad

“During the lockdown, every shooter focused on their physique and they returned much fitter than what they were before. Therefore, a lot of changes were required on their equipment,” rifle coach Deepali Deshpande told Hindustan Times.

“Apurvi (Chandela, world No.7 in 10m Air Rifle) lost a few kgs and needed new trousers. Divyansh (Panwar, world No.1, 10m Air Rifle) also lost some weight and a new jacket had to be ordered.”

For the uninitiated, shooters wear gears that are tailor-made according to their physique. These equipment are designed in a way that it provides support to their muscles and joints so that the shooters can maintain their stock-still firing posture.

In the first-half of the rifle shooting camp in the national capital, all the 32 athletes in attendance are working on getting used to their attire.

“Every time you lose weight, the gear has to be adjusted accordingly so that it takes the shape of the body. So, even to take advantage of (improved) fitness, first a shooter needs to get used to his or her jacket and trousers,” said Panwar’s coach Deepak Dubey.

Deshpande went on to add that improved fitness will only help the shooters and stated that the lockdown has actually been a boon for her wards.

“It will help in their accuracy, precision,” she said. “The first half of the camp was only focused on making these adjustments needed in equipment. Because of this long break it has worked like a detox. When you constantly shoot in competitions, a shooter is not able to focus much on fitness. But they got time during the lockdown to focus on it.”