Shooting is increasingly becoming popular in India. As a result, the Central Board of School Education (CBSE) is offering Shooting as a subject. Preferences are also given for entry into various government jobs if an applicant holds a medal in a recognized shooting competition.
After bagging silver medal by representing the host college in the first ever shooting championship in Nagaland at the collegiate level organised by the Nagaland University, in collaboration with the Nagaland State Rifle Association in the month of November 2009, at the Sazolie College, Kohima, Hito Swu decided to pursue shooting sport as a career. He is currently pursuing Masters degree in Physical Education at Bharatiya Vidyapeeth Deemed University, Pune, Maharastra. Out of sixty competitors at the Collegiate level competition, Hito is the lone shooter who is pursuing shooting sport as a career.
After the completion of his Bachelor degree course in Arts stream in 2012, Hito enrolled himself at Jaspal Rana Institute of Physical Education, Dehradun, Uttarakhand and pursued his second graduation in Bachelor of Physical Education (B.P.Ed). He also trained under Arjuna awardee, Jaspal Rana, who is a three times world champion and presently the chief coach of Indian Junior Team. The same year, Hito won Gold and Silver medal at the district and State championships of Uttarakhand respectively. He is also the only Naga to be recognized as the ‘Renowned Shot of India’ by National Rifle Association of India after scoring 580/600 in 2012.
Although Hito began his shooting career in 2009, it took him four years to acquire a rifle of his own. For someone who is not financially sound, it is not easy to risk pursuing a career in an alien field as far as Nagaland is concerned. But there was no looking back for Hito. And with firm faith in God, he followed his dream. With the sole objective of refining his skills, Hito landed at Pune and is now training under Anjali Bhagawat, a renowned shooter of international repute.
All the hard work did not go in vain for Hito. This year he has qualified for selection trials which are meant for competitions beyond national level and is now eligible to participate in any open International Shooting Championship although one has to finance by himself. He is now a Certified Trainer in shooting conducted by the National Rifle Association of India, the only person in Nagaland to attain such a status.
Hito Swu has played four Nationals representing Nagaland State, two All India University representing Nagaland University, Bharati Vidyapeet Deemed University, and one National games and many other championships. Apart from shooting, Hito also participates in other adventure sports. He has successfully completed National Himalayan Trekking via Chanderkhani Pass which is 12,800km above sea level.
How do you usually prepare for a Competition? Can you tell us about your exercise routine? What is your Practice Philosophy?
Although I do my regular exercises without interruptions, before any competition, I begin rigorous exercise three months in advance. These include physical workout, mental exercises, and special care on diet and nutrition. Usually I prefer exercising during the evenings between 5-7 pm an hour at the most on the track & field ground. My practice philosophy is work hard and stay focused. I regularly update my performance diary.
When exactly did you decide to take up shooting seriously and on a Competitive level?
It was in the year 2012 when I first got my rifle and I went for training under coach Jaspal Rana. During this period, I won Silver in All India G.V Mavlankar Shooting competition and became the first Naga to qualify for nationals in 10 Meter Air Rifle event on 56th national shooting championship, Delhi where I scored 580/600.
State Government normally sponsors students pursuing for Engineering, Medical, etc. Sports in general have not been promoted by the state Government as a career option. What is your take on this? Can shooting be chosen by young Nagas as a career option? Have you ever approached the State Government to sponsor you in any form?
That’s a very good question. At Balewadi Stadium in Pune, high performance sportspersons identified from different districts are invited, provided free fooding and lodging in facility called Krida Prabodhini, sports kits and equipment and made to train in the best of grounds and shooting ranges. They are even paid stipends. All that the sportspersons are expected to do is to perform their best. These facilities are provided by the state government. Similar facilities are promoted in Gujarat and other states as well. Unfortunately for us, the state government do not have any such programmes. Even if we compete and win at National and International level, even a word of appreciation from the government, let alone other recognition, is hard to come by. In such a scenario, to expect sponsorship from the state government is a far cry.
I personally have never approached the government for any kind of assistance or sponsorship so far. Since I represent the state in most of the competitions, many think that I am being sponsored by the state government as is the case for participants from other states. Honestly, all the training expenses and other competition expenses are borne by me and I have not received a single penny from the government. I just hope that Rifle Association in Nagaland would take care of the shooters. India Armed Forces, Paramilitary forces and other Public Sector Undertakings offer jobs for shooters under reserved quotas, but for me, I would like to work in my state.
Shooting specially in India is becoming very popular. Nagaland is also making a mark, and we can expect more developments in the near future with more and more youngsters taking to shooting. I think there is no dearth of talents in the state. With the strong will, determination and hard work, shooting sport will not only make a career but you may gain love, respect and admiration from all.
What do you think are the essential skills of a successful shooter? What are your biggest challenges, and how have you confronted these challenges?
Skills are developed as we keep training, so the only mantra is hard work and dedication. One very important pre-requisites is to have a personal coach. Unlike other sports, coaching in shooting cannot be given in groups as it requires focused and sustained personal attention. The challenges that I face today is the adaptation to the local environs of the cities where competitions are held. I need to get acclimatized and therefore need to arrive much ahead of the dates of competitions. All these advance preparations and engaging a personal coach proves to be very expensive.
What has been the greatest disappointment in your life?
The greatest disappointment is not having anyone to support, it makes me feel less ambitious which in turn adversely affects my performances. Seeing my performances in the competitions, I have been offered sponsorship by other states which were very tempting. However, whatever I do, I want to do it for my state with pride. I hope that the state government will see sense and not let great potentials of our young people go waste but harness them and enable them to bring great laurels for the state in the national as well as international arena.
What would be your ultimate achievement?
My ultimate goal is winning a gold medal in Olympics, and climbing Mount Everest.
As a youth what is the biggest problem you have encountered and what did you do to overcome it?
Being Positive and trying every now and then to have the right set of mind
Social media is a new phenomenon worldwide and is here to stay. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google plus are all that we can’t ignore anymore. Apart from many good things that you can do through social media, there is negative impact on the lives of an individual, particularly the youth. One such fallout of social media is the evolution of all types and genres of porn resulting in rapidly changing social behavior and redefining morality, especially amongst the younger generation. What do you say about the presence of Pornographic material in such media?
I discourage watching pornography, you get nothing out of it, it spoils the most important tool in you, that’s your mind, when your mind is poisoned with such kind of stuffs you lose focus which is a critical ingredient in the field of shooting. Safeguard your mind and let positive thoughts fill you so that you may emit positive energy.
What will be your role as a socially responsible youth in today’s world of fast evolving technology?
My role as youth would be an ambassador of change from within and change the world.
If you are given a chance to be a leader, what do you think is the best approach/initiative to bring about a difference in the world around you?
I would be imparting my knowledge selflessly and be realistic in my approach, to anything that comes my way. I would rather analyse and find solutions to problems than just sitting and talking.