The Versatilist

A rhythmic space for Hindi Poetry, Book Reviews and Travel Stories

Book Review: A Shot At History, Abhinav Bindra

Author: Abhinav Bindra with Rohit Brijnath
Published: 2011
Publisher: Harper Sport
Pages: 215
My Rating & Recommendation: 5/5, Must Read

India’s tryst with the Olympics has been a one with sporadic highs. Successes have been far and few in an otherwise long haul of despairs and failed dreams. If sending a satellite into space could qualify for Olympics, we could hit the podium more often I believe.

A country of more than a billion has laid hands on only one individual Olympic Gold medal since forever till now. And the man to give our country that honor is Abhinav Bindra. He was the Gold Medalist in 10m Air Rifle Shooting at Beijing Olympics in 2008.

A shot at history is a story of this man. A dive into the carefully crafted journey towards perfection which finally shot dead the demons of the past failures, for our sportsmen and a billion otherwise. In this book, Abhinav takes you through the details of his life as a string of smoothly connected chapters. A transformation from a young boy practicing alone under a mango tree in India to a competitor polishing his art in the biggest shooting ranges across Germany and USA has been neatly and intriguingly captured into word streams.

The best part of the book is Abhinav’s candor in admission of his frailties, moments of weakness, competitive pressure and emotional breakdowns during his journey. He boldly shares his feelings about being a sportsman in India (It is very different) and recounts several tales about how he slowly learnt to craft his way through the maze of media criticisms, bureaucratic apathy and general lack of traction and facilities for shooting as a sport in India.

Abhinav’s passion, quest for perfection and knowledge about his sport rubbed off on me. I came out much more informed about shooting, it’s rules, facilities around the world, the make and makers of guns and pellets, the technique, posture of the shooter and the various prestigious competitions that happen around the world. Fascinating!

Overall, this book is a straightforward account of Abhinav’s journey, much like him and his sport, Load. Aim. Shoot. Reload. Aim. Shoot… He has titled one of the chapters as ‘Mr Indian Official: Thanks for Nothing’, Straight as a bullet!

Additionally, the book is like a passive mentor for any young aspiring sportsperson, playing any sport. It doesn’t really prescribe but informs and guides. That’s why, I have labeled it as a must read. I liked it for its content, style, sheer originality and for the inspiring impact that it left on me. Happy Reading!

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