Pune archers left handicapped by poor training facilities
For the past five years, Maharashtra archers have put up impressive performances at national tournaments. They have overcome several top archers from the country and have gone on to win medals at the international level.
Pune is one of the major contributors to Maharashtra’s success story. Ranjeet Chamle, a Level 2 international coach, started the Archers’ Academy in Pune in 2004. He started training talented youngsters at the Shahu College ground in Sahakarnagar.
Under his guidance, the academy has produced several top archers. More than 100 archers from the academy have played at the national level in the past 14 years. They have won over 600 state-level medals, 800 national-level medals and more than 20 international medals.
Despite the impressive performance, the academy is struggling to find the perfect practice ground for archers. The college ground is suitable for basic training, but to reach international standards, the archers need a proper training centre.
According to Chamale, a good archery range must have outdoor as well as indoor facilities. It should be a residential project with an open ground, multi-equipped gym along with a professional medical team to guide the players.
“The college ground is ideal for shooting in dead wind conditions. Several academies spend money to build such grounds. This, unfortunately, is not enough. Along with the ground, our archers must also be able to train in windy conditions. Otherwise, they will find it difficult to perform during the tournaments,” said Chamale.
“During monsoon, the ground becomes muddy and it is difficult to train in those circumstances,” he added.
In the past 14 years, Chamale has not only produced excellent players, but have inspired many to take archery coaching as a career. Several of them have cleared the courses and exams and are now working independently at various parts of the city.
“Right now there are more than 10 archery training centres in Pune and most of the coaches are from our academy. The archers shift to Shahu college for advanced training. These are the future medal prospects of the country and they must have the best training facilities to bring home gold, but instead they are forced to train on a make-shift ground,” said Chamale.
The city, despite producing so many international medallists, does not have a single international quality archery range. The archery range at Army Sports Institute, Ghorpadi, which recently hosted the Senior National Archery Championship is an ideal ground for training, but the ground is reserved for army archers only, according to Chamale.
“If we could get approval from the sports ministry, we can develop an archery range at the Shiv Chhatrapati Sports Complex in Balewadi. They have ample space, hostel facilities for the players, and other training and fitness areas nearby. If this becomes a reality, I am sure Pune will be the archery hub of India,” said Chamale.
The academy at a glance
The archers academy at Shahu College is situated on plain land, and archers train for the 50m and 70m distances. Everyday around 50 archers train at the venue, from beginners to international medallists.
The archers start their day with physical training. After running a moderate distance of three to five kilometres, they have a core workout.
Following the warm-up, the archers train with the bow. this training includes, conditioning, weight training and a stability workout.
In the afternoon session, which starts around 4pm, the archers focus on skill training, shooting and eventually wind up the day with stretching, yoga and meditation. The archers are closely supervised and even their daily water intake is measured. They burn around 600 to 800 calories in a day and need to be properly hydrated to maintain their performance.
“There is misconception that archery doesn’t require fitness. To pull a 45 pound bow, one needs strength. Not just the upper body, but even lower body muscles need to be powerful. Archers spend eight to ten hours on the ground. It looks easy, but archery is a very demanding sport,” said Chamale.
Private sponsorships are crucial for Pune players’ growth says Chamle
Ranjeet Chamle, senior archery coach and Chhatrapati awardee, is a well known name in the Indian archery circuit. He was archery coach at the National Defence Academy in 2004. He has also been the Maharashtra team coach since 2005. He is currently selected as member of the coaches committee for the ‘Mission 2020 Olympics’ scheme of the Maharashtra government. The archery veteran spoke to Ashish Phadnis about archery in Pune and the way forward for the sport.
How do Pune archers fare in tournaments?
Pune archers have been putting up strong performances at the state and national level. In the last five years, 24 archers from Pune have represented the country at the international level. Several of them have been picked up by Services, Railways and the Petroleum board.
We still have a long way to go. Although everyone wants to represent India in the Olympics, we are currently aiming at putting up a good performance at the upcoming Asian Games. It’s a gradual process and will see progress within the next five years.
How do you plan to improve Pune’s performance at the national level?
We need to work on bench strength. Top archers always get all the attention and sponsorship, but we need to bridge the gap. Counties like Korea send their junior teams to senior world cups, and they still win medals. That’s the bench strength they have. We should work towards emulating that model. More and more tournaments should also be held in the city. Right from inter-school to inter-state and national tournaments, the more tournaments there are, the more exposure the archers will get.
Archery is considered a costly sport. How can an archer overcome this barrier?
Once the archer wins a medal at the national level, the Indian government sends them to various tournaments including the Asia Cup, Asian grand prix, world cups, world championships, Commonwealth Youth Games and Commonwealth Games. Most of their expenses are sponsored by government.
Our aim is to help archers reach that level. This is where private sponsorships are crucial. Private organisations should come forward and support these future medal winners. Luckily Non-governmental organisations (NGO) like Lakshya and corporate organisations like Dorf Kettle, Mumbai and many others are offering a helping hand to players who need it the most.
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