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 :


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.


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.


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.


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 😛 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!

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