Pistol shooter Abhishek Verma is a happy camper!

The Indian shooter believes a three-month-long camp is the best way to prepare for the upcoming season.

By Naveen Peter

With less than a year to go for the Tokyo Olympics, Indian pistol shooter Abhishek Verma believes that national shooting camp in New Delhi is an ideal way to get back into the groove ahead of the upcoming season. 

Though the Indian shooters did their bit to stay on top of their game during the nationwide lockdown, the 31-year-old Verma believes that returning to the camp was the best way to ensure that they stayed on course for the Tokyo Games.

“It’s very different. At home, you are all by yourself, there’s no one to monitor,” Abhishek Verma told the Olympic Channel.

“You don’t have anyone to compete with. You are all alone. There are days when it’s really hard to motivate yourself. While at the camp, you have this environment where everyone is focused on a singular goal. You are surrounded by world-class athletes and trainers. That helps in pushing yourself.”

Coming into the 2020 season, the Indian shooting contingent was riding high on confidence following their dominant performances at various international events. But with the COVID-19 pandemic disturbing their plans, it remains to be seen if they can regain the lost rhythm.

“I think this is where the camp comes in handy. If this camp was only for three-four weeks, we would have come, had some training and then went back home to the restrictions,” Verma said.

“But with a three-month-long camp, now we can pace ourselves and ensure that the work is ongoing. Then we get to start afresh in the new year.” 

The national shooting camp that resumed on October 22 saw the core group for the Olympics assemble for a two-week training stint before heading home for the Diwali break. The shooters are expected to return in a week to resume their preparations for the new season.

“We have been waiting for this moment for a very long time. Yes, everyone was training at their home ranges, but being at the national camp is a different experience,” said the world No. 2 air pistol shooter.

“Every time there’s a camp you know that competition is around the corner so the excitement and the eagerness to improve yourself also kicks in. Add to that, camps are well managed and very systematic, so that helps in our efforts to improve as well.”

Competitive shooting concerns Abhishek Verma

While regaining their lost form doesn’t seem too difficult for the Indian shooters, what’s bothering Abhishek Verma is the lack of competitive shooting before the Games.

And though the international shooting body, ISSF, has scheduled three World Cup events - in India, South Korea and Azerbaijan - ahead of the Olympics, the Indian shooter is wary of the time he will get to tweak his game before the Tokyo Olympics.

“You can train as much as you want, but unless you compete you never know where you stand,” he said.

“And even when the season begins next year, the competitions are expected to come thick and fast. That reduces the time that we get to rectify and improve certain aspects of our game which we realise while shooting in a competition. That’s something we will have to prepare for,” Verma reckoned.