Asian Games gold medallist in double trap, Ronjan Sodhi, may have decided to walk away from competitive shooting some time back, but the marksman who comes only second to 2004 Athens Olympic Games silver medallist RVS Rathore in terms of achievements, has been a guiding force for youngsters willing to learn the art of which he was the undisputed master.
While double trap may have been given the short shrift by the Olympic Movement — it was taken off the Games programme prior to the now-postponed 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo, though it continues to remain in the ISSF World Championships, the Asian Games and the Commonwealth Games — Sodhi, 40, is still keen to pass on the knowledge to whoever is willing to learn.
The champion shooter, winner of two World Cup gold and two silver medals at the Commonwealth Games, has a piece of advice for young shooter —find innovative ways to train and make the most of the enforced lockdown to improve your skills.
“I feel, necessity gives rise to innovation and shooters should not just be sitting idle, waiting for the lockdown to end; they’ll find the world has gone way ahead by the time they return to competitive shooting again. “When the coronavirus thing started, it necessitated that we wear a mask 24X7. I felt very uneasy at first but I got used to it and now wear it 24 x 7. Now it’s become a part of my routine, a necessity.”
With masks, gloves and frequent hand sanitization becoming the new norm, Sodhi feels it’ll only help shooters if they acquire the habit now rather than when they are back in competition. “Just the same way they do visualisation, or may be dry training, they can incorporate this habit as well, so there is no discomfort when they are back in competition,” says Sodhi.
“During my competitive days, I innovated a lot. Now that I’m retired I can share the knowledge but when I was competing, no one came to know about my training regimen. Everyone would have seen the laser keychain which emits a pointed green or red beam. In the confines of my room, I used to tell somebody to point the laser beam on the wall and move it at the same speed at which the clay pigeon exited the machine on the shooting range.
“I was basically simulating the flight of the clay pigeon on the wall of my training room. Somebody would be sitting on the table and pointing the beams at angles of 35 and 45 degrees and a height of three metres. I would ask a person to move the laser at a certain speed which was actually the speed of the target in competition. The person would loop the laser and then I would follow the laser and mutter fire,” says Sodhi, adding that it was the secret of my success. “A lot of people don’t do this; may be they don’t know about it.”
In fact, the Delhi-based marksman says, shooters should stick to their routine as if they were at the shooting range so that they are not caught by surprise once they are back in competition. “They should earmark a spot at their homes…kind of an imaginary firing station, walk up to the station and stand at the same spot every day. They should close their eyes, visualise that you are walking on to the station. Even the time is of essence… you have to time yourself (imagine) in such a way that there are six shooters at the range, and you have a total time of 135 seconds to complete a cycle. Every shooter gets 25 seconds to fire, so you calculate when you have to pick up the gun and keep counting… fifth shooter shooting… fourth shooter shooting… now it’s your turn. In my case, somebody would be ready with the laser (in fact two, as I am a double trap shooter).”
Sodhi, who learnt many of his skill form the legendary Russell Mark, the 1996 Atlanta Olympics gold medallist, says the Australian once told him, “It’s not about the quantity of ammunition you burn at the ranges but the quality of training.”
“He said, if you go once a week to the range and shoot 100 cartridges that’s more than enough rather than going every day and firing 500 cartridges.”
“The lockdown will show who scores more on return.”