All about shooting : Physical Fitness

This post is to introduce the beginners to the concept of fitness related to 10M Air Pistol Shooting through my experience. This is NOT a How-to post. As you move towards higher levels, it is advised to get professional sports physiotherapist and psychologist to help you early on.

My Dad and I share an interesting bond. We claim that we understand each other like no other person in this world would (which is true). And that is precisely the reason why we argue like no other father-daughter duo would.

A very frequent bone of contention between us is ‘fitness’.

Consider this :

2002

15-yo Me: “Baba I want to be a cricketer like the Younger Sibling.”
Dad         : “You are not fit enough.”

Trekking. Me, Dad, and younger sibling at Nainital for a rock climbing camp.

2008

21-yo Me: “Baba I want to take up tennis. As a hobby.”
Dad         : “You are not fit enough.”

Trekking. Again at the Nainital rock climbing camp.

2015

28-yo Me: “Baba I am going to join shooting.”
Dad         : “You are not fit enough.”

Trekking. At Lonavala.

I looked at him dumbfounded. I just had to stand there for 2 hours and lift a 1000g pistol. I warmed up before the session and stretched after. What’s the big deal? It is not an out and out physical sport like Tennis or Cricket. What is Dad driving at?

Cut to 2016 : My second State-level match in Nashik.

I shot 11 points less than the required qualification score of 335, with one shot in the first ring – a 1! I attributed the score to the fact that I hadn’t trained enough yet.

My parents were with me in the match. When we walked out of the range, I asked my Dad for an analysis.

He said that he doesn’t know much about the sport, but it is interesting, and I did well, and I will do better when I was fit enough. 

This time I heeded him and asked him to explain in detail.

He said that even though primarily shooting is a mental sport, you need to go out and do some physical activity so that you are not fatigued during your sessions. Even top-level Chess players swim and run. Gone are the days when unfit players were acceptable in Cricket. If anyone manages to get in the Team despite physical shortcomings, they fade away in the longer run with occasional moments where (just) their talent makes them shine.

I bought it.

But when I saw final matches in women’s 10M Air Pistol, I could see players of all shapes and sizes and they did not look to me as if they’d be doing a lot of physical activity outside of shooting. Only one European shooter mentioned doing Yoga in one of the interviews.

Here’s where I was wrong. Never judge anyone based on appearances. 

Then, I didn’t know that. So I went to my Coach with my dilemma.

My father thinks I am not fit enough. I see International Players who I think are not fit enough. So why exactly am I not scoring?

He looked at me with half a smile. I now realise how juvenile my question might have seemed, coming from an apparently mature individual. He told me that I do not require serious gymming, but swimming, running will help, and I could talk to the in-house physio if I wanted.

A year passed by. I never talked to the in-house physio. I did not pursue anything additional than what I was doing on the range. I scraped through the Pre-Nationals and Nationals of 2016.

Then I saw the movie Dangal. As superficial as it sounds, my eyes were opened.

I needed to be more serious about my sport. And I did get serious in everything I did in shooting, except fitness. It gave me results, good ones too, but somewhere I knew something was missing and I always felt lost as to what.

I knew I had to exercise but what, how, when?

2017 : 1 year 2 months after the fateful Nashik match.

I met our consultant physiotherapist, who is currently training International athletes. A lot of my myths were busted, and I got the real no-frills perspective on physical fitness in shooting.

You guys, the real article starts here!

So here’s the long and short of it :

Physical fitness training in shooting is to help develop mental strength.

The crux of it is running. That too, slow running. All other exercises a shooter does (warm up, stretches, cool down) is to aid him/her in building the stamina required for running.

Why slow running?

  1. The completion of even one session of running fills you with confidence.
  2. It gives a sense of achievement.
  3. Completing each running session trains the shooter to finish what he/she started no matter what.
  4. Regular running streaks help make winning a habit.
  5. It helps improve your lung capacity. (This one’s my addition.)

Layman tips

  1. Always run or exercise after your shooting session.
  2. Your exercise regimen should be : Day 1 Run, Day 2 Full body stretching, Day 3 Rest AND Repeat.
  3. Start with 20 mins on 400m track – in which you do basic body exercises, brisk walk for 5 mins, slow run for 20 mins, and finish with an additional round of brisk walk. Gradually, when you feel like it, increase to 30 mins.
  4. Substitute running with 40 mins walk a week before competition.
  5. Do not go by my word for it. This is just to give you an idea of the kind of fitness an average shooter needs.

Meet your physio and talk to him/her about running, its benefits, and what other physical fitness measures you need to take.

 

All about shooting : Overcoming self-doubt

In sport, being grounded is an important quality.

It keeps you realistic when you are soaring high in success and propels you higher when you feel down in the dumps.

However, for beginners, it is a double-edged sword.

Being grounded in just the right amount can work wonders while being excessively grounded to the point of inferiority complex can severely damage their aggression and ambition – which are the key ingredients for success.

There are two types of grounded beginners according to me :

1. Confident

They are excited at the prospect of learning something new.

They start slow and steady, go on improving each day, and are content with the progress they are making with the knowledge they have gathered so far.

They are not bothered by what others are doing. However, they actively seek out information that will help them improve their technique and other supporting abilities.

In competitions, they know exactly where they stand and do their own thing without being intimidated by the presence of stalwarts or other seasoned players.

On the range : They will be found doing their own thing calmly. They allocate separate time (that does not interfere with their practice) for discussions with their Coach and peers. They enter the range cheerfully, and walk out with a smile after completing their practice sessions.

2. Self-doubters

They are intimidated at the prospect of learning something new.

When they start, they have too many questions and are always unhappy with their results. Most of their practice sessions go by in lamenting that they do not know enough. Instead of taking in the offered step-by-step guidance, they keep focusing on what others are doing and what makes the others click.

They spend much time networking, but this consists of one sided cribbing about their present situation and discussing how the stalwarts have got all the amenities to make it big. They do not derive any useful information out of it.

In competitions, all their puffed up confidence disappears and they’re paralysed with mortal fear of taking shots. If the seasoned players are present, they automatically write themselves off the list of serious competitors.

On the range : They will be found chatting up anybody who’s willing to converse – seniors, juniors, or Coaches. They rarely finish their practice sessions. They enter the range with a nervous smile or in a sulky mood and exit in a similar fashion.

What is the root cause of self-doubt? 

Self-doubters are often more intelligent and knowledgeable than the confident ones.

‘Knowledge is Power’ – we have been taught in schools. However, the very knowledge makes them acutely conscious of the fact that there is a lot that they don’t know. They know that there is so much to know that they wouldn’t get to all nuances of 10m Air Pistol shooting in their entire lifetime, let alone the other branches of the sport!

This overwhelms them so much, that they resort to constantly underestimating the basic knowledge that they already possess. The knowledge, if implemented consistently, would be enough to take them to higher levels where they can further improve by self-learning and expert coaching.

The million dollar question – How to overcome self-doubt?

Self-doubt is often a direct result of the tendency to overcomplicate.

If you can dumb yourself down for set durations, say in practice sessions, exercise sessions, visualisation time, and even competitions, self-doubt will not make an appearance.

Img Courtesy : The Awkward Yeti

Dumbing down is an art. It does not mean that you shut down all your logical faculties.

Instead, you shut down your inquisitive side just long enough to allow you to focus on what you are doing at the moment, so that you do what is required of you in the practice sessions or competition, and not think about what more is required of you to accomplish more than what you are achieving at present.

After practice or competition, you switch on your inquisitive side and use it to analyse the ‘takeways’, ‘need to dos’ and ‘questions’ for yourself, and for the discussions with your Coach. This way, you are dissociating your inquisitive nature from self-doubt.

Now, inquisitiveness will be your ally rather than a detractor. 

When you master (Do I see you doubting yourself again at this decisive word that establishes you as an authority on a given subject? Then go over this section again and read this when you are a regular at switching on and off your dumb side.) dumbing down and can switch it on and off at will, you will see that your results have improved significantly. This will also get rid of the ‘impostor syndrome’ that stems from too much knowledge (and very little real work) and is an equal cause of self-doubt.

Footnote

  1. Although this post is mainly for beginners, even seasoned shooters experience self-doubt at various points of time due to similar or other reasons. Recovering is easier for them because they have string of successes to validate their expertise in shooting.
  2. Not all self-doubt is bad. Sometimes, it is an outcome of the shooters ability to stay grounded while experiencing a fine streak of back to back successes. As long as the shooter has mastered dumbing down, it doesn’t hurt to remind oneself of the long way that remains to be travelled. It provides the zeal to achieve more.
  3. The ideal shooter will never fall directly into one of the two beginner types I have highlighted. Because a confident starter may fall into the trap of becoming over confident and complacent, while a self-doubting starter may develop an inferiority complex and become an underachiever.

    The ideal shooter has a healthy mix of confidence and self-doubt, and knows when to use both to his/her advantage.

 

 

 

Book Review : Then the Doorbell Rang by Capri Jalota

Click to buy, or read on Kindle Unlimited.

WHY I READ THE BOOK

I had seen the book on Kindle Unlimited, and dismissed it as – not my type – as I was on a thriller reading spree of late. At this point, I must also admit that I have begun looking at Indian authors with a biased angle. (Judge me for being judgemental all you want!) For this one, I made an exception and read the blurb, and put it on the ‘could be read’ list whenever I felt like reading a non-thriller.

Today, my friend Anita posted a short review about it and the name rang a bell. (Pun very much intended.) As I had just finished the rather long Dead Lawyers Don’t Lie (also a debut, incidentally), I downloaded it immediately.

WHY YOU SHOULD READ THE BOOK

If you are anything like me, you are a cynic when it comes to the quality of writing of the recent crop of debut Indian authors. You do want to read authentic India-based stories but can’t seem to find a lot of read-worthy books.

This one is a welcome addition to the read-worthy section and falls under romance/drama/contemporary fiction genre.

(I should mention that the author Mr. Capri Jalota is a Bahrain based Indian expat, so he can also be termed as a Bahraini author.)

The quality of writing bit sorted, this book is a definite page turner despite not being a suspense novel.

Case in point : I finished it in 4 hours since I downloaded it, today!

If you like the current crop of woman-centric movies in Bollywood (Do I see you cringe at my comparing movies and books? Sorry! Let me give you book examples – All and Nothing by Raksha Bharadia, A Woman of My Age by Nina Bawden), you’ll like this emotional roller-coaster ride that the flawed but gumptious protagonist sets out on.

Top 3 reasons for you to read the book :

1) It is backed by Leadstart Publishing, which has established itself as a publisher of quality books over the last few years.
2) The narration is not pretentious (which is my biggest grudge against many debutants) at any point.
3) The characters and happenings are completely relatable. If you’re tired of reading over-the-top plots which lack believability, then this one is so rooted in ordinary life that you’ll be surprised why you’re wanting to know more about the happenings in such a routine setting.

THE PLOT

The story revolves around the Anglo-Indian lead Jane, who is a highly successful Dubai-based real estate manager plagued by personal issues that threaten to bring a standstill to her ability to handle her job efficiently unless she resolves them. She sets out to find the person who has all the answers that will supposedly help her achieve emotional closure, but ends up in deeper problems due to the decisions she takes during the ‘search’. She tries to bring her life back on track after the unfruitful and disastrous ‘search’ trip and is on the brink of finding love again when things go wrong again.

Utterly dejected and unhopeful, she resolves to put an end to her suffering on the day the whole world celebrates; and then the doorbell rings! It is for you to find out what happens next. Does Jane find solace after all?

 

THE CHARACTERS

Since the characters are the essence of this beautifully written book, I will not go into deeper details of each of their traits. I do want to write about them though, so it would be better if you come back to this section after you read the book.

Jane

You have an Indian Doctor married to a British citizen and Jane is their only offspring. Constantly conflicted about her identity, she decides to identify more with her mother’s side just because she is never introduced formally to her Indian side. She is very decisive, often acting on instinct and regretting in hindsight. She discovers her empathetic side a little later in life when she starts looking at things from others’ perspective.

Uday

You get to know him from Jane’s reminiscing and his own journal entries. I loved how the author gives us the glimpses of a man who cannot give up his past and is trying to come to terms with a life-changing decision he has made under somebody else’s influence while maintaining his basic nature that others define as easy-going and selfless. It is difficult to decide whether you feel sorry for him or hate him outright.

Mahesh (and family)

The quintessentially helpful Marathi manus who has managed to rise to an upper middle-class lifestyle from humble beginnings through sheer hard work. He is a happy family man with a doting wife who singlehandedly brings up their daughters and rightfully nags him sometimes to take out some time for their own selves. The purpose of this whole family is to show what a perfectly happy household looks like (and what life could’ve been for Jane according to her ‘thoughts to self’. I don’t think Jane could have had that life considering the kind of man Uday was.) and how fragile the illusion of the ‘perfectly happy household’ is…

Rahul

He’s apparently a selfless fellow who has dedicated his life to social service. I’d say he’s one of the most selfish people in matters of the heart. He advises his best friend to ‘come out clean’ to his fiancée while he himself doesn’t communicate his reservations for shunning the advances of the girl he loves. The flamboyant techie turned dedicated NGO worker ‘with a heart of gold’ is in fact a manipulator who thinks he knows best when it comes to other people’s romantic choices.

*spoiler alert*

I don’t know why this Rahul reminds me of quite a few leads played by Hrithik Roshan where he romances the heroine for somebody else, falls in love in the process, and then selflessly steps aside because it would be wrong to marry the one who’s claimed by his best friend (or boss). I have no sympathy for such losers. (Sorry for the outburst. The credit for this goes to the author’s incredible character etching.)

*spoiler over*

The supporting characters – Jane’s dad and mom, Mahesh’s wife, their pre-teen and toddler daughters, Jane’s physiotherapist, Jane’s boss, her in-laws, and her dad’s extended family are all expanded just enough to help the reader get to know them and still not get distracted from the main plot.

WRITING STYLE

The language is refined, the flow is smooth, timeframes are defined, and the dialogues are engaging. I found only 1 typo in the book.

Most of the narrative is in flashback, and proceeds from Jane’s point of view. The reader thinks with her, explores with her, contemplates a dilemma with her, and unwittingly and unwillingly flees from conflicting situations with her, and regrets and hopes with her.

Such is the grasp of the author on the subject matter of female emotions that the reader lets go of superficial things like where the story is heading and drifts with the cluelessly or otherwise drifting protagonist.

WHAT I LIKED

  1. There are no black and white characters. Everybody is flawed, and still almost everybody is likeable.
  2. There are no loopholes (good) or loose ends (not that good**). The motives of everyone’s behaviour gets clear towards the end. (There’s a writing rule to let somethings be for the reader to figure out. The author has broken it and the result is actually good. The book offers closure to the reader too along with the lead.)
  3. Thankfully, very thankfully in fact, there are no proofreading mistakes (except one). It makes the book highly readable.
  4. The settings (Dubai, Mumbai, Delhi, Agra, London) and happening are familiar to most readers who’ll pick up this book. It is a real skill to write about fictional people whose life is turned around by real-life mishaps or milestone events.
  5. The conflicts (I get a bit technical here) are well-timed and do not seem forced. It helps that the author seems to have a deep understanding of the psychology of toddlers, pre-teens, middle-aged and old aged people of either gender.

WHAT I DID NOT LIKE

  1. Let’s address the elephant in the room. The book is not lengthy still the narrative goes into too much detail in places.*spoiler alert* Mostly in Uday’s journal and then towards the end of the book. *spoiler over*

    While it is very tempting for the author to put down everything that is unfolding in his mind, it is a harsh fact that readers generally skim over the parts where they think they’ve known everything there is to know on the page at that moment to move forward in their reading; especially in times when the attention span is too low.(Like you – my reader – have probably skipped to point 2 after the bold spoiler alert font. See what I mean? But I am not writing a book, so I can afford ‘skimming readers’ to illustrate a point to the author who will surely read this review. 🙂 )

  2. The book does not wrap up in time.This is slightly different than lengthy detailing. This is where the plot refuses to stop after the end goal of the story is seemingly achieved.(**This happens because the author has broken the writing rule mentioned above.)

    Have you ever watched a movie where you thought it is brilliant in places, dragging in parts, but in the end you’re happy you’ll take back some good memories when suddenly the director inserts a 10-min sequence? Baahubali-2 anyone?

    (I know I am contradicting myself by adding these lines. I seem to be very intent on irritating my readers. Thanks for bearing with me so far. If you’re skimming, all is well.)

IN A NUTSHELL

I enjoyed it because I have lived in Dubai – the place where it all begins and ends. And also because I genuinely liked the narrative voice that is honest. The story shows and doesn’t tell (if you know what I mean). You’ll probably enjoy it for the latter reason.

Pick it up if you’re anybody who reads. Really, this one is not the run of the mill romances, or crusader stories just because it happens to be a woman centric book.

My rating is 4.0 on 5.

(It should be counted as highly biased (in a good way), because I’ve not been reading the real ‘quality’ stuff of late. This is a whiff of fragrance for my mediocrity clogged reading nose. Eww…I know the metaphor stinks! But looks as if I’ve found my writing wit. 😛 So many buts in this post, can you count? )

Catching up

Hi ya folks!

It was my blog’s birthday on 4th September. The day I migrated to self-hosted domain. 5 years ago.

Kalamkaari might think of me as a very negligent owner. To that, I’d say – you’re still better off than thedamsel.in 😛 Two years, and it ain’t much functional.

Anyhoo, belated Happy Birthday! 

My birthday is approaching too. In the first week of October. (I’ll post around that day, yes dear blog. Don’t make that face.)

Right now I am on a ‘training vacation’ at Mom’s. I’ve coined the term. It means training at your regular pace at a place where you’re the most at ease. It gives you time to think, plan, and act on the plans. (Aeeee Kalamkaari, I’m talking about shooting. Not blogging. Don’t look at me as if I am slacking.)

My physical training Coach has told me to run regularly to improve mental toughness. The idea being – 15-20 mins of alternate day slow running builds in you a strength to complete a task you’ve undertaken. I am doing that, and it is working fairly well for me on the shooting front.

I am thinking of an experiment. To implement the same thing on the blogging front. Slow writing, gibberish writing, deliberate writing for 20 mins to build a blogging rhythm. I think that would go a long way in building my mental toughness some more. (And pleasing the rightfully sulking Kalamkaari too.)

My 20 mins are up for today. Good to have caught up. See you soon!

Img Source : Vitacentre.org

August Blogathon : All about shooting!

I don’t know what the Blogathon is called, but I am jumping in headlong…inspired by ze Lady at Shail’s Nest.

The salient features of this month long blogging ‘abhiyaan’ will be:

1. Blogging from Mobile using WordPress App. This will get me writing on the go and without the fear of my inner editor.

2. I will pen down my thoughts about shooting. Those thoughts which are good if written in my shooting diary, but don’t necessarily belong only there.

So here’s the long and short of my plan. (Yes, I have a plan this time around.) 

As you would know if you visit my blog often, I took up shooting 10m Air Pistol in May 2015. I have played quite a few state matches, and have made it to the Nationals by qualifying in the Pre-Nationals. Right now, I am preparing for the 2017 Nationals.

The shooting bug bit me way back in 2004, when then Major Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore won the double trap Silver at Athens Olympics. That was the year I came to Pune for my engineering. 

The Internet was in nascent stage then. I searched for shooting ranges at 40 Rs/hr! The one I found was in Hadapsar, a good 25km away from where I stayed. There was no Ola/Uber to take me to and fro…and I thought to myself… well…all in good time.

The good time came 11 years later when I quit my job and joined the academy I had my eye on since 2011. 

Little did anyone know that my seemingly off-hand decision was a carefully planned attempt at making up for the years I lost because I had other ‘normal’ things to do – study, get a job, marry…in a word – ‘settle down’!

Now that you got to know how I got into shooting… I’ll delve into the stuff I want to write about, in the next posts.

I plan to provide my blog some August company. 😉 See ya around amigos!