Olympic-bound shooters can stay on target at home

The Indian sports ministry is working on ensuring that shooters, who are part of the Olympic core group, can resume training at the earliest.

By Naveen Peter

Given the prevalent COVID-19 situation, the sports ministry has decided to provide Indian shooters with ammunition and targets to help them resume training at their home ranges.

A handful of shooters from the Olympic core group, who live in and around New Delhi and the National Capital Region (NCR), resumed training late in July once the Dr Karni Singh Shooting Range was reopened following a nationwide lockdown.

But with inter-state travel still a concern, most of the shooters from other parts of the country have not been able to return to the national capital, thus forcing them to delay their training further. 

The Union sports minister Kiren Rejiju, who visited the Karni SIngh range, seems to have found a way to address the problems of the concerned shooters. 

“It is important that athletes, especially the Olympic probables, get a chance to continue their training wherever they are in the country,” Rijiju said. 

“They may not be able to visit the Karni Singh Shooting Range or other academies owing to the COVID-19 situation. However, many of them practice in their home range as well as in facilities near their homes. 

“We want to ensure that their training is in no way compromised because of lack of availability of ammunition or other facilities.”

Sports minister Kiren Rejiju interacting with a shooter at the Dr Karni Singh Shooting Range. Photo: SAI

Though the National Rifle Association of India (NRAI) had initially planned to restart the camp for shooters part of the Olympic core group, the national body was forced to shelve the plan given the rise in COVID-19 cases in the country.

A few of the premier shooters like Manu Bhaker (pistol), Sanjeev Rajput (rifle), Anish Bhanwala (pistol), Sheeraz Sheikh (shotgun) and Mairaj Ahmad Khan (shotgun), however, are training in New Delhi over the past few weeks.

But with restrictions still in place, the likes of Anjum Moudgil (rifle), Apurvi Chandela (rifle), Saurabh Chaudhary (pistol), Abhishek Verma (pistol) and Elavenil Valarivan (rifle) have found it hard to return to the range.

The latest development should, however, help them train at their home ranges at the earliest. 

“If we can get the ammunition and practice at a range which is closer to our homes it will not just ensure our safety during COVID-19 times but also allow us to devote more time to training,” Anish Bhanwala said.

“I am sure elite shooters who do not live in Delhi will benefit hugely from this decision. This will ensure that we can continue our Olympic training.”

With no international competitions lined-up for 2020, the focus will be on the 2021 season which includes the ISSF World Cup in New Delhi in March.