A sophisticated sport taught in a rural setting

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NEW DELHI: FEB 17,
Forty-seven-year-old T.G. John, a medical transcription professional from Avadi, may not have many things in common with this group of children, which includes M. Harshika, eight years old, her brother M. Sujan, and their younger friend, six-year-old S. Ritesh.
But there is one thing that binds them all together — archery.
Since September last year, they have been training in archery on a piece of temple land in Pakkam village, near Thirunindravur, on the Periyapalayam High Road. John is a trainee who is considerably older than all the other trainees. That’s not the only thing that sets him apart. He is also the chief coach at this archery academy.
“Since my childhood, I have wanted to learn different sports like archery and shooting. But only now have I got that opportunity. So, I don’t practising alongside these fellow trainees, most of who are my children’s age,” says John.
Twice a week — Friday and Sunday — the classes start around 8. 30 a.m. and goes on for an hour. On Sundays, the classes extend up to two hours depending on the weather. All students have to undergo basic training, irrespective of their age and ability.
Once the basic training, which takes around six months, is completed, students are divided into five different age groups, which include starting with Under-10. This classification is reflected in the distance of the target from the Draw Line from where the archer has to release the arrow.
The distance of the target from the Draw Line starts from 5 metres (Under-10).
“A student’s hands should be steady as shaking hands would cause the archer to miss the target.
We ask our students, who are mostly children, to concentrate on the target and give their best shot,” says chief coach R. Durairaj, who is also secretary for the District Archery Association, Tiruvallur.
It is significant that archery, which is a sophisticated sport that calls for specialised equipment including fibre-made bows, is being taught at a village on the city’s outskirts.
Such archery training is available within the city, in areas such as Anna Nagar and Nungambakkam. In fact, when the idea to start such a class in the village was mooted by Durairaj, residents in the neighbourhood welcomed it.
Within days, G. Mahesh, who runs a two-wheeler outlet in the locality, enrolled his children, including M. Kamalika, who is in Class 10.
Soon, the word spread to neighbouring villages, including Thamaraipakkam, Thirunindravur, Mittanamallee, Muthapudhupet, Pagalmedu and Sekkadu amd with this, the number went up from a mere three students in September last year to 15 students now.
Most of the parents belong to various sections of the society. So, you have retired Indian Air Force (IAF) personnel, farmers, government staff and petty traders from the neighbourhood.

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