(February 8, 2022) Esha Singh was barely nine when she heard a blaring gunshot for the first time at a firing range in Hyderabad. It excited her. That reverberating sound led her to pick up a shotgun. Though heavy, it overwhelmed her, as she welcomed the adrenaline rush. A quick tour of the armoury, introduced to guns of all shapes and sizes, a rifle caught her eye, but that was too heavy. Esha settled for a lighter air pistol as she felt it suited her best. Eventually, it did.
Now 17, Esha is a sharp shooter who shoots with utmost precision. One of India’s finest and promising shooters, she is now aiming for the bull’s eye at the International Shooting Sport Federation (ISSF) World Cup to be held in Cairo in February-end 2022. She also won the Pradhan Mantri Rashtriya Bal Puraskar 2020.
“My ultimate goal is to win an Olympic medal and to accomplish as many wins as I can to make my country proud,” smiles Esha Singh in an exclusive with Global Indian. Esha was among the select few whose name figured in the Indian squad for the prestigious championships.
Active, sporty, now accurate!
Born and brought up in Hyderabad, Indian ace shooter Esha credits her businessman father Sachin Singh, a rally driver, for the initial push into sport. “Since my father is also a sportsperson, he often highlighted the importance of sporting activities, which give one a sense of discipline and dedication – much needed in life,” says Esha, who enjoyed badminton, tennis, skating and go-karting before shooting took centre stage. Schooled (1st-10th) at Bolton School, Esha is now in grade 11 at Reqelford High School. Her father comes from a line of ancestors in Rajasthan and her mother Srilatha Sachin Singh is an entrepreneur from Andhra Pradesh.
Indian ace shooter Esha Singh says, ‘Muzzle tov!’
“Shooting was a whole new world for me,” quips Esha, who became Telangana’s state champion in the 10m air pistol category (2015). That first time at the firing range changed her life forever. “I was not even aware that a sport like this existed until I heard the gunshot for the first time,” smiles the January 1, 2005 born Indian ace shooter.
As national champion in the 10m air pistol category (2018), she clinched gold medals at the second edition of Khelo India Youth Games in January 2019 (under-17 category) and Asian Airgun championships in Taoyuan, Taiwan in March-April 2019. She also won a silver medal at the ISSF Junior World Cup at Suhl, Germany in July 2019, a bronze in the 10 m Air Pistol mixed team event there, besides winning two gold medals at the Asian Junior Championships (in 10 m air pistol women and 10 m air pistol mixed team) held in Doha, Qatar in November 2019.
Passion aside, Esha’s determination is rock solid. “Once I set my mind on something, I pursue it dedicatedly, and do all it takes to achieve it,” declares the teenager, who also competes in the 25m standard pistol and 25m pistol events. The Indian ace shooter was also selected for the Indian core team for the Tokyo Olympics.
Focussing on her strengths
Having good focus is important, and the Indian ace shooter elaborates, “A shooter needs to go through intense mind-training – train the brain the right way. Shooting is a mind game. There is no such thing as a lucky day, it all depends on the mindset and thoughts on the day.” The ace shooter is the proud owner of a 1.25 metre sports pistol and 2.10 metre air pistol, though her first was the Pardini Kids Air Pistol.
Hand-eye coordination is key. “One must train in these skills to be better at shooting. Physical fitness sharpens these skills. I workout five times a week and also undergo mind-training and meditation,” explains the shooter, who defeated Commonwealth Games and Youth Olympics gold-medalist Manu Bhaker and multi-medalist Heena Sidhu in the 62nd National Shooting Championships at Thiruvananthapuram in Kerala to become the youngest champion in the senior category, when she was just as 13.
Tough and long training days with no distractions are crucial for tournaments and championships. On an ordinary day, Esha trains five to six hours a day at the paper-practice range set up by her father at home. “My typical day starts at 5 am, and main training begins at 9 am. The range keeps me occupied till around 4 pm. I have the rest of the day to do normal things – schoolwork and studies,” informs the Indian ace shooter.
Getting ready for the world championship now, that regimen remains a constant every day.
An Indian ace shooter’s hardwork and perseverance
Unlike other sports, shooting is expensive, and Esha agrees, though adds, “Like any sport, it requires a huge commitment. Our generation is lucky to have private sponsors to help budding athletes,” smiles the shooter.
Esha loves the Gachibowli firing range in Hyderabad. “The government has been extremely helpful. The Khelo India project is a great scheme for young sportspersons,” adds Esha, who has visited several firing ranges abroad.
Away from the shooting range, Esha tries not to think about the sport. That is when her hobbies kick in. A nature buff, she loves greenery, bird-watches, sketches, and is a bookworm too. Busy in The Book Thief by Markus Zusak, her friends motivate her. “They see me as an influence to pursue what they are passionate about. They feel, and also make me feel proud of my accomplishments,” smiles the girl who is a crime-thriller and 90’s sitcom buff.
Will shooting be a full-time profession? “Yes. With the right dedication and support, shooting can indeed be a full-time profession. It does take a lot of time out of your life but eventually it will be worth it,” urges the fan of hip-hop, pop and rap.
Her role model in the sport is “Gagan Narang as I trained in his academy (Gun For Glory in Pune) in the beginning. I spent my days looking at his posters. His work motivated and inspired me,” the Indian ace shooter signs off.
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