For air rifle shooter Divyansh Singh Panwar, 21-day coronavirus lockdown means tales from Mahabharata, dry firing, and some cooking

Tales from Bhagavad Gita and Mahabharata, dry firing in the living room, and cooking lessons... inside the lockdown bootcamp-cum-reading club of Divyansh Singh Panwar.

Amit Kamath March 30, 2020 17:31:57 IST
For air rifle shooter Divyansh Singh Panwar, 21-day coronavirus lockdown means tales from Mahabharata, dry firing, and some cooking

In the past week or so, as the world barricaded itself indoors and athletes around the globe struggled to continue their gruelling training routines, India's Tokyo Olympics-bound 10m air rifle shooter Divyansh Singh Panwar has been honing his skills with a mixture of dry firing, and mythological tales like Mahabharata.

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Divyansh Singh Panwar competes at the 2019 ISSF World Cup Finals, Image courtesy: ISSF

The teenager has chosen to spend the unprecedented 21-day national lockdown to prevent the community spread of coronavirus in the Faridabad-based apartment of his childhood coach Deepak Kumar Dubey along with three other young trainees (Shreyas Singh, Suryadeep Tomar and Vivek Singh) from Dubey's academy, Tapasya Shooting Sports Academy.

Panwar and the other three shooters' day begins at 5 am, and with the nation-wide lockdown making it impossible for them to haul themselves to a range, the quartet start their mornings by suiting up in shooting jackets and having three dry firing sessions of 40 minutes each.

In between each shooting session, the group sits on stools in their shooting positions whilst still wearing those heavy air rifle jackets and unwind by discussing mythological tales like the Mahabharata and Bhagavad Gita. In essence, it is a hybrid of a book club and a shooting boot camp.

“When you’re in a shooting range, your attention is always getting pulled towards the scores. 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,” Panwar told Firstpost. The youngster ended the 2019 season with the coveted Golden Target Award, which is bestowed upon the best shooters of the season.

Dubey, who is also a coach with India’s junior rifle team, says the idea behind the dry firing sessions is to work on aspects like posture, balancing your body, alignment of sight and concentrating on your breathing.

“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,” Dubey said.

As for the book reading sessions, the group has four books ― Bhagavad Gita, Mahabharata, Shiva Sutras and Manage your Mind. Dubey says they usually end up dissecting tales from Bhagavad Gita and Mahabharata and motives of their protagonists like the Pandavas and Shri Krishna.

He added that to keep the shooters mentally sharp they do yoga sessions each morning, while evenings are spent on exercises like skipping and sometimes badminton in the building’s car parking to work on their physical fitness.

For Panwar the biggest takeaway from this lockdown bootcamp is teamwork.

“The one biggest takeaway for me from the lockdown is teamwork. Earlier, we would just train and sleep. But now since there’s no one else to do the household chores, we’re all doing them ourselves by dividing them,” said Panwar, who’s also honing his culinary skills during the lockdown and made methi parathas for everyone recently.

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