Image Credits: Prachi Singh
Prachi Singh, an ordinary girl from Bharatpur, who did not even know that Archery is a sport or one can also reach to greater heights in the field of sports; has set out in a journey where she is determined to become one of the world's best archer.
It was a love at first for the 20-year-old archer, when she witnessed archery for the first time and there’s no looking back.
In 2015, Prachi Singh captured Gold in Commonwealth Youth Games in the recurve bow event in Apia, Samo.
Currently, thrusting her trust on the process and shredding her focus on making the most of everyday, the youthful archer opens about her journey from a simple girl with no prior knowledge about sports to turning into a professional archer.
How did archery happen? Did you play any sports growing up? What made you get into archery?
I have never played any sports before taking up archery; there was no sports environment in my family either. I didn't realize that there is something so far in sports. My dad had sent me to study at Gurukul Chotipura in Moradabad. In 2012, when I was in 9th standard, one of my friends informed me about Archery. She said that there is a sport called Archery and if you want to join, you can.
One day she took me to see the place where everybody was practising. It feels great watching that training session. That was a moment where I decided to take up Archery. Sumangala Sharma, who is an Olympian, was a mentor in Gurukul.
I told her; ‘I also want to do this sport’ and in return she said; ‘alright then come to the practice from tomorrow.’
I practised there for a year, after that archery halted in Gurukul, because it is a bit expensive game, and not every person can afford to do it. After that, I told my father that I like doing Archery and also want to pursue it further. For that, I need to go from the hostel because archery has been shut down here in Gurukul.
Later, my father got me admitted to a hostel in Sawai Mansingh Stadium (Jaipur). I remained there for a year and afterwards, I played Junior National in Kokrajhar, and I defeated an international player. A Coach from Tata Archery Academy was also present over there and was watching my game.
After the match he asked me, “Do you want to come to Tata Academy?”
I was unaware of the Tata Academy at that time. My seniors and friends told me that it is no.1 Archery Academy in India and if you are getting an opportunity, then you must go for it.
There are trials conducted before joining Tata Academy. I cleared my trials and got admission in Tata Academy. In May 2014, I came to Tata and a year after that I played my first international competition at the Youth Commonwealth Games in Apia, Samao.
My experience from my International debut was wonderful. I won individual Gold in my first outing. When I was at the podium and the national anthem was being played, that moment gave me goosebumps and everything was so heavenly.
I come from a middle-class family, and it was all new to me. Everything was happening to me for the first time; I wanted it to happen to me until the end of time.
How’s your training looks like?
In Archery, we should be fit both mentally and physically. We have a calendar for the whole week which we follow firmly. There are mentors for our psychological preparing, who help us to keep mentally active and fit.
Do you think Archery is about to shoot a perfect bull's eye for hours or getting perfect results?
It relies upon Archer what he is getting delighted in. If I talk about myself, keeping my shots perfect makes me happy.
How do archers deal with weather condition?
We can't control the weather and the sport of Archery can't stop until we are unable to see the target. Whatever the circumstance, Archer must be mentally solid and centred. Regardless of the climate condition, it is important to keep ourselves prepared for every situation; by practising in different conditions.
What was your first experience of shooting a bow?
When I began Archery in school, it took me 3 months to touch a bow. At first, I was told to clear my basics, and was asked to do some exercises need to be done before taking up a bow. Every day during the training, I use to look towards my mentor that today she will ask me to use the bow, and following 3 months I was rebounded. At first, I played an Indie round (in which there is a bow made of wood). Usually, maximum archers use Bow made of wood during the initial stage of their training. When I took my first shot, I shoot at 6. However, constantly I developed myself into it and made a career out of it.
Who do you look up to in the archery industry like a role model and why?
I want to learn something from everyone. Someone’s attitude, somebody’s playing style, someone's focus, etc. I am my role model.
Competing at such a young age, how did you juggle studies with sport?
It turns into somewhat hard to walk with both studies and sports together. I wanted my game to be perfect, so I didn’t emphasis much on my studies. I used to begin studying a few days before the exams and I used to do practice as well. Amidst this, I scored a score of 60-70% marks.
Read: Shekher Vaidwan: ‘Archery helps me ensure that I concentrate under stress to keep my target in focus’
Who has been the person behind your accomplishments in the sport?
I can't name any one on the grounds; numerous individuals have supported me in my career until now. Firstly, my folks, their constant support has always been with me. Then, there are my mentors who have helped me a great deal. Furthermore, my friends have likewise encouraged me a ton. Coaches can’t generally be with one player since they need to observe all the players similarly. Some of the time your friends reveal to you your missteps and help to redress them. Sometimes, we don't see our flaw and in that circumstance, our friends help us.
In terms of the final stages of preparation, what will the last couple of days look like? And is there anything specific you’ll be doing to calm your mind and the nerves?
When a tournament is about to come, we train ourselves as per the climate state of that place. We use to prepare to remember what number of rounds will be there and what number of arrows will be shot. Also, we shoot more arrows in while training, with the goal that we don't confront any issue during the competition.
What has been the most favourite moment so far in your archery career?
My first International Competition Youth Commonwealth Games, where I won Individual Gold. The Indian banner was flying high, our National Anthem was playing in the background and each one was applauding me. I generally recall this day and those moments will always be special for me.
What’s it like owning archery tools? Any particular challenge or perks?
As my mentors have told and I have experienced that you cannot put archery out of practice over 3 days. This is because our muscles unwind and we experience a ton of difficulty to resume our practice after the break. That is the reason we convey our bows and arrows devices wherever we go to dodge an undesirable break in our training session.
While carrying our apparatuses, we must be cautious, regardless of whether we are going via train or by flight. An extraordinary alert is required when we are travelling by train. Once my friend's archery sack was stolen, since then whenever we travel by train, we use to be quite aware. While going on a flight, the security staffs at the hour of checking at the air terminal feel that we are carrying arms or something to that effect. When we tell this is our archery apparatus then they request a letter and we need to follow through on the additional cost to convey it alongside us.
What comments do you get from people/friends/family when you meet them with your archery kits/tools?
Whenever I go out in my hometown people says that ‘Grapplers are made in Bharatpur, when did these archers begin coming out?’ she chuckles. My friends, they welcome me without a doubt and state that ‘we are glad that you are doing so well in your life.’
What are your current plans and goals for the future?
My main goal is to get my name on the list of the best archers in the Olympics. Right now there is no idea in the schedule of Archery that when the competition is going to happen, and the Olympics have also been postponed for 2021. At this time, I am working on my faults and trying to develop myself into a finest archer.