Ask Gagan Narang's close associate and shooting coach, Pawan Kumar, what he feels about his shooting. And the prompt reply is, "He shoots with feeling".
At first, it's difficult to comprehend what feeling Pawan is talking about. He elaborates: "I am not talking about emotional
feeling. It's about the feeling he gets when he touches the trigger. If he gets the right feel, only then will he shoot," says Pawan, the director at Gagan's initiative 'Gun For Glory' academy.
"After the 2010 Commonwealth Games, Gagan went in for a new rifle and new jacket. In a short span, he became comfortable with the rifle, but not with the jacket. His body wasn't giving him the same feeling as with the old jacket. He kept trying new jackets and after changing at least half-a-dozen of them over 18 months, he went back to his eight-year-old jacket and it showed in his performance at the Munich World Cup. Despite the patchwork on the jacket, he will continue with it for a long time only because of the feel."
Aura of invincibility
Whenever Gagan participates in a major competition, there is an aura of invincibility, and more often than not, he is on the podium. That's precisely why his cupboard is overflowing with medals, awards and trophies - like the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna, Arjuna Award and Padma Shree and half-a-dozen World Cup medals, most of them of the golden hue. The only thing missing is an Olympic medal.
At the Beijing Games, had it not been for the new 'count-back rule', who knows, Gagan could have been on the podium along with Bindra. Five shooters were tied on 595 for four slots in the final. Unfortunately, the rule didn't favour Gagan and he lost out on a 10m air rifle finals slot.
But for the Hyderabad marksman, who came into the limelight during the 2003 Afro-Asian Games, Beijing is history and London is the new assignment.
After narrowly missing the medal in Beijing, he went on to prove his worth on many occasions, winning medals in World Cups and World championships and equalling the world record twice. Till date, he has seven World Cup and World championship medals, five of them coming after the Beijing debacle.
"For sure, he has bad memories of Beijing. But he never discussed it or made excuses. Rather, he was more determined after that and only because of that determination he went on to equal the world record twice," said Pawan.
"Even when he missed out on the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna, he became more determined. To prove his point, he went on to book the country's first London Games quota," he added.