Indian shooters back to training range for Tokyo Olympics 

Strict safety protocols are in place at the Dr Karni Singh range in Delhi as it was opened for a select group of Indian shooters to prepare for Tokyo.

By Utathya Nag

Indian shooters wanting to qualify for the Tokyo Olympics started training on Wednesday after the Dr Karni Singh Range in Delhi opened for the first time since March.

Four members of NRAI’s core Olympic group – rifle shooters Divyansh Panwar, Deepak Kumar and skeet shooters Mairaj Ahmad Khan, Sheeraz Sheikh – availed the facility on the first day. More are expected to join.

“It just felt great. I was shooting after five months. It felt like a new start for me. Started slowly, just getting the feel back, felt like a new feeling actually altogether,” Sheeraj Sheikh said to The Week.

Mairaj Ahmed Khan shared similar sentiments and pointed out that he was working on his basics after the long gap.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic-enforced lockdown, most Indian shooters have been restricted to practising at their homes or private ranges for the past few months.

Strict safety protocols in place

The Dr Karni Singh shooting range is only available to the 32-member core group selected by the NRAI for the Olympics. Strict protocols and social distancing norms are being maintained.

Shooters need to book online training slots to avoid crowding at the range and can use a single point of entry, where their thermals are checked. 

Face masks are mandatory, the facility is only restricted to shooters and coaches and they are expected to leave the premises immediately after their session ends. Their cars are also sanitized.

“We are happy that all safety protocols are being followed. It is a good initiative to start the training. It will help shooters be disciplined with their practice which doesn’t happen at home,” Deepak Kumar told Hindustan Times.

“We are at a distance of more than five lanes from the adjacent shooter which gives us a space of more than 10ft. Each shooter can keep the equipment in the barricaded area marked for them and there will be complete isolation from others,” he added.

The skeet shooters, too, trained in alternate stations and maintained different time slots.

“We both came at different times and shot 200 cartridges each. Our temperatures were checked and we did not shoot together at all,” Sheikh explained.

National camp possible in August

SAI’s decision to open the Dr Karni Singh range has also come as a big boost for NRAI’s plans to hold national camps with all the core members.

Reportedly a mid-August date is being eyed for the resumption of preparatory camps for the Games, but a final decision is expected to be taken post an NRAI meeting on July 15.