SHOOTING AS a sport in India has come a long way and even women are matching up to their counterparts in other countries if not the men shooters.
Until not long ago, shooting was considered a male bastion. But now women have broken this myth by winning medals regularly in various international events.
The women shooters of the Army Marksmanship Unit (AMU) arrived at the CR-1 shooting range of Infantry School, Mhow, on Wednesday to take part in the 16th All-India G V Mavlankar Shooting Championship beginning from Thursday and the 50th National Shooting Championship (Rifle) beginning from January 22.
The Hindustan Times caught up with some of them to find out how they are preparing for these events. Major Beermati of Military Nursing Services (MNS), who started her career about ten years ago after becoming an officer in the Indian Army, has won 31 medals in the national events. She has bagged three gold and seven silver medals.
The lady officer, who won her first medal in 1992, was inspired by the condition laid down by the unit that if she does not bring a medal she will have to return to her unit.
Her husband O P Sihag, the cricket coach of the Haryana cricket team, has always motivated her. Beermati says that her ten-year-old son Gautam gave her a sweet and nice lesson in simple words when she did not receive any medal in the last National Shooting Championship. He just told her that she lost just because she had not practiced well. She is hopeful of doing well at the Mhow competitions.
Captain Neha Bhatia of Engineers Regiment is excited about the competition —the first competition of her life. She had joined AMU three months ago. Neha had to give sweets to all fellow shooters as a penalty when she left the range without opening the bolt of her rifle, as it is rule of the range to open the bolt when leaving the range, which is a safety measure to avoid any mishap.
Captain Rajshree of Ordnance Corps, a single trap shooter, has won bronze medals in 2004 and 2005 nationals. Major Reema is in the AMU for the last three years and has won gold in pre-national, silver in single trap shooting and bronze in double trap shooting. She calls the gun her boyfriend and says that I love staying with it as it has helped me overcome anger.
Major Suchitra Devi joined AMU in 1995 and has won 13 gold and 1 silver in various national events. It is also the first competition for Lt Sophia who joined AMU three months back. Sophia said that when she was once firing a rocket launcher, she was so terrified that she could not stop her tears for a long time.