How growing shooter Panwar tackled the vertical challenge

Published on Mar 29, 2021 08:48 AM IST

The 18-year-old world No. 2 air-rifle shooter has gained a couple of inches in the last six months and will need a new attire to support his 6ft frame before he heads to the Tokyo Olympics.

Divyansh Panwar in action at the ISSF World Cup. (NRAI/Twitter)
Divyansh Panwar in action at the ISSF World Cup. (NRAI/Twitter)
ByAvishek Roy, New Delhi

Divyansh Singh Panwar stood at the Capapie store - the Indian shooting equipment brand - at the Karni Singh range here giving measurements for his new jacket and trousers. The 18-year-old world No. 2 air-rifle shooter has gained a couple of inches in the last six months and will need a new attire to support his 6ft frame before he heads to the Tokyo Olympics.

Once he gets his new gear, he will have to get accustomed to it in training to maintain balance and his stock-still firing posture. At the World Cup here, Panwar won bronze in the individual competition and mixed team gold with Elavenil Valarivan.

It is common for teenage shooters to adjust their gear and equipment as they keep growing. For Panwar though, it happened at a time last year when there was no national camp due to the lockdown. He was training at a makeshift range at home. When the Karni Singh range opened for elite shooters in July, Panwar was unable to line up the target.

“First we thought there could be some issue with the measurement of the target he had put at home. We measured it and it was fine. We made small adjustments but after some shots his rifle was again going down. That’s when we realised there was some other issue,” Panwar’s coach Deepak Dubey says.

Panwar has an unusual stance for a rifle shooter with his back bent more than usual; the curve was now more pronounced, putting more pressure on his lower back.

“When you bend your back more, it will get painful with passage of time. It is very difficult to change the stance once a base is formed. He gets his stability from that posture; so, instead of changing the basics, we put him through exercises to strengthen the supporting muscles.”

After every hour of practice, Panwar holds his gun facing the opposite direction for half an hour - to balance the load on his back. “If you are of average height there is no issue. But if you are tall or shorter then you have to make some modifications in technique,” Panwar says.

“In my case I have to keep working with the physios because my posture is such that the back bends more. I haven’t faced any problem so far. There are shooters who have had back issues. If you keep doing your workouts and gym sessions, it will be fine.”

To meet the latest challenge, the height of the sophisticated rifle butt and the weapon’s palm rest were adjusted.

Dubey says: “A shooter knows his position, when to lock his body and come to the zone to fire. We didn’t want him to lean more. We adjusted the height of the butt and made changes in the palm rest to bring the weapon level with the target without compromising on his stance. The new shooting gear will help him get better support for his frame. He gained height in the six-seven months when there was no national camp, so we were not able to understand the issue at first.”

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