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Hitting the bullseye: One arrow at a time, Pune’s champion family of archers take a bow

A strict and disciplined practice schedule, starting with morning exercise leading up to 12 hours of practice a week, is what has led the trio to win several accolades both nationally and internationally.

pune Updated: Nov 07, 2017 15:08 IST
Ananya Barua
Ananya Barua
Hindustan Times, Pune
archery,asia cup,pune
Divya Dhayal hones her archery skills. (Ravindra Joshi/HT PHOTO)

Archery is the way of life for this Pune family, who were recently felicitated at the Armed Forces Medical College (AFMC) by Army chief General Bipin Rawat for their contribution to the sport in the country.

“Archery is a lot like life, which is to stay in the present,” says 14-year-old Khushbu Dhayal, who won a bronze medal at Rosario 2017 World Archery Youth Championships, Argentina in October.

Khushbu’s understanding of the game, which she said has been inspired by her father and practical experience is, “Archery is a mind game, where you always have to stay positive even if your arrows are not hitting the spot. You can’t be worrying about the previous one, but concentrate on the present one. My father has always taught me this guiding principle.”

But, she is not alone. Her two younger siblings, Divya and Digvijay Dhayal, both 13-year-old twins are aligned with her philosophy and passion for the sport.

(From left) Digvijay, Divya and Khushbu of the Dhayal clan are aligned with the philosophy of staying in the present, just like archery, and share a common passion for the sport. ( Ravindra Joshi/HT PHOTO )

While Divya, like her sister, also won a bronze medal in the same championship in October, Digvijay’s recent international win was a gold medal at the 2016 Asia Cup-world ranking tournament.

The three, have been immersed in archery for the past three years having been inspired by Lieutenant Colonel Vikram Dhayal, who himself is a national archer and coach.

A strict and disciplined practice schedule, starting with morning exercise leading up to 12 hours of practice a week, is what has led the trio to win several accolades both nationally and internationally.

The credit they say goes to their parents, their father who coaches them, and their mother who supports and inspires them. “We do not idolise any archer as such except for our father. We were attracted to the game because of our father who inspired us, and we follow him,” said Digvijay Dhayal.

Lt Col Dhayal, who has been leading his offspring to hit the bullseye, says, “It is great to see my children take to this sport with so much passion. They have always been in different sports, but Khushbu, my eldest child, was the first one to come up to me and proclaim her interest in archery, the other two followed and now we are a family of archers.”

He says that they are hoping for compound archery, the trio’s specialisation, to be included in the 2024 Olympics for them to represent India.

According to Divya, the combination of a father and coach is what drives them to perfection. “You don’t have any formalities with him. We get the best of both worlds, where he understands how we are managing our studies like a father, and, he pushes us beyond our comfort zone to do our best,” she says. All three of them study at the Army Public School in Ghorpadi.

Their mother, Ishwari Dhayal, despite being the only non-archer in the family says, “Although I don’t shoot, but at home we are mostly speaking on issues around archery and it has become an integral part of our lives. And, that change is welcome as I have seen my children mature as individuals because of the sport. Studies is important, but archery has provided them with a holistic development which is essential.”

Being the only compound archers in their school, and the rare few in the country they wish to usher in more young people into the sport. “It is a great sport which involves both individual and team effort, and like any sport helps evolve you as a person. Currently, the scope of archery is slim, but it is gaining momentum and we hope it continues,” says Digvijay. Currently, Denmark is leading in the world archery rankings with Stephan Hansen (men) and Sarah Sonnichsen (women) as the top compound bow archers in the world.

What is Compound Bow Archery?

Compound bows are known for their widespread use in the field and 3D archery, and bowhunting. The bow is identified by the multiple strings and the system of pulleys at it’s either end, used as a levering system, to bend the limbs. A compound bow, as opposed to a recurve or longbow, stays strung at all times and is not unstrung when not in use, like the others.

First Published: Nov 07, 2017 14:51 IST