Whenever shooter Anjum Moudgil packs her bulky bag to competitions abroad, stuffed with clumpy shooting gear, she devotedly improvises space to squeeze in a set of paintbrushes and coffee decoction. “I can’t keep off painting even when I’m away for a tournament.” Of course, she can’t pack in the pastel, palette and pod to tournaments, but finds space for bare-minimum tools to keep her passion burning. Coffee because oil takes too long to dry.
The 24-year-old from Chandigarh has just returned with a World Cup silver medal from Mexico. But more than her exploits on the range, she gets more excited and articulate when the subject veers into her passion than preoccupation. She says she can’t choose between the two—both require her utmost sincerity.
Despite a congested training and competition calendar, Moudgil tries her best to allocate time to brush up her world of colours and canvases. Flicking through her Instagram account, which has a modest 300-odd followers, she shows a neat Buddha portrait in thick neptune-blue background and points to the 3X3 inch screen to convey its size. “It’s this big.” Buddha is a theme that reappear in most of her works.
But she asserts she doesn’t have any particular theme or pattern. From popular cartoon character Pikachu to dark warships, Moudgil has replicated on canvas anything that has inspired, or sometimes fancied, her. “I can paint anything,” said the shooter who regularly sells her artwork through Instagram. Though, she admits, she doesn’t rake in much money. “I end up quoting a much lesser price (than market value), or in some case give them for free, as most people who approach me are my acquaintances and friends,” she says, giggling. Her works, understandably, are in great demand among fellow shooters and friends’ circle. Some of them are displayed in a prominent shooters’ club in Chandigarh as well.
Like most past-times, painting too began as a stress buster, a much-needed break from the gruellingly competitive circuit. “It definitely helps me relax. When I am painting I don’t think about anything else. I don’t feel hungry or thirsty. I get completely lost,” says Moudgil, sounding every bit like a certified artist.
As she became more prominent in the shooting circuit, word gathered around about her skills. “Other shooters got to know and started asking her to paint for them too. I got my mobile cover painted by her,” said Shriyanka Sadangi, a close friend and fellow camper. Some others have borrowed her skills to beautify the rifles of several national campers and don the the club walls with her artwork. The Buddha-obsession, may be, is quite symbolic. For the sport she has chosen requires zen-like levels of concentration, especially the 50m 3 position, which according to her is a “very demanding discipline both physically and mentally.” The recent tweaks in rules, that have led to increase in the number of shots women shooters have to take, has made the event even more challenging.
But Moudgil is not someone who shies away from a contest. “Even if the they make the event tougher I am ready. I like doing things that are tough and it excites me. That is why I took up the event in the first place. You need to be really fit mentally and physically,” she says with carefree smile on her face.
Between juggling with the brush and the gun, she found enough time to complete her master’s degree in sports psychology. But the background, she says, is little beneficial to her chosen sport. “Maybe if I had attended the classes regularly I would have learnt more,” she jokes. “I had to miss chapters on sports injury and stress due to my competition,” added the athlete, who suffered a back injury in 2014.
Moudgil’s next major competition is the Commonwealth Games, where she has earned spots for the 50m rifle 3 position and 50m rifle prone along with Tejaswini Sawant.
Given her prolific rise and motivation, she seems destined for a glorious career. But in case she falters midway, she has other viable alternatives too. But she says she’d rather focus on her art career than sports psychology after she hangs up her rifle. “I would like to get back to painting after I am done with shooting.”
But before that she would love to draw a self-portrait of herself on the background of the scenic Gold Coast beach, hopefully with a medal clinging on her neck. There’s a title too for the taking: “Portrait of a painter as a shooter.”