Indian pistol shooter Abhishek Verma who will be heading to Tokyo Olympics could have chosen a different career path but he claims that shooting gives him joy like no other.
This will be Verma’s first Olympics outing and the pistol shooter is focusing on mental health to hone up his skills. Psychologists are now a very common aspect among athletes and they are mainly appointed to give the sportsperson a mental edge over their opponents. While Verma is technically very sound and has qualified for the Olympics he still considers shooting as a hobby.
“The most important thing in shooting is mental fitness,” Verma told the Olympic Channel. But I don’t need a sports psychologist. I never felt that because I do shooting as a hobby since I started. It keeps me happy. Also during the lockdown, I focused a lot on mental training.”
Unlike other teenage shooters, Verma started his career quite late. He was first noticed by his coach Manoj and fellow shooters at the Eklavya Shooting Range who first noticed his talent in 2015. But it was only after completing his degree in B.Tech and then law he turned to shooting and took it up as a profession.
“I started shooting in November 2014 as a hobby,” the 30-year-old said.
“Then in 2015, I started pistol (shooting) and was hooked. I was training under Manoj sir at Eklavya Shooting Academy in Hisar. He used to teach us the basics. He told me that I was doing well and believed in me. I didn’t want to compete as I started it as a hobby and it was fun. I used to come to the range, take 20-30 shots and go home. But after six months of doing this my scores were very good and everyone around encouraged me to stay in the sport.”
It was in 2018 he broke into the Indian team and quickly rose through the ranks by winning Bronze medallist at the Asian Games. He clinched gold at the Beijing World Cup and the Rio de Janeiro World Cup in 2019.
“I was around 26 or 27 years when I took a life-changing decision to leave the computer science, law degree aside and pick up shooting,” he said. “Shooting has given me a lot of respect, happiness and pride for myself and my family.”
The gold at the Beijing World Cup propelled him to secure India’s second quota in the men’s air pistol event. The 31-year-old is gearing up for the ISSF World Cup which is due to start from March 18 to 29. After that, he is also set to take part in the 64th National Shooting Championships.