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Far from a shot in the arm

Sheds, worth lakhs, that do not protect marksmen from the elements, a range, worth Rs 60 lakh, that cannot be operated, “42 shortcomings” that still need to be rectified. This is the state of India’s best shooting complex --- the Karni Singh Ranges --- also touted the best in the world, reports Ajai Masand.

india Updated: Aug 03, 2010 00:16 IST
Ajai Masand

Sheds, worth lakhs, that do not protect marksmen from the elements, a range, worth Rs 60 lakh, that cannot be operated, “42 shortcomings” that still need to be rectified. This is the state of India’s best shooting complex --- the Karni Singh Ranges --- also touted the best in the world.

Little wonder the National Rifle Association of India (NRAI) has not given its seal of approval to the range, which will host a record number of medal events during the Commonwealth Games. “We have not certified either the Karni Singh Ranges or the Kadarpur full-range as the job is not to our satisfaction,” said NRAI acting president, Avtar Singh Sethi.

“When we tried giving our suggestions, there were no takers. So why should we give an all-clear certificate. A senior International Shooting Sport Federation official, David Parish, will visit the venues 15 days before the Games. If he certifies the ranges, we have no problem,” said Sethi.

The two flaws at the Karni Range that need immediate rectification --- though it is a tough ask given that only 60 days are left to mega event --- are the iron sheds constructed to protect the shooters from the elements and the first of the six combined shotgun ranges, which cannot pass muster because of a major flaw.

“The all-weather sheds --- built for ‘uninterrupted shooting’ even during incessant rain or scorching heat --- will serve no purpose as they are at least two metres short. The marksmen will still stand in the sun and brave the rain despite the sheds. It’s like someone holding an umbrella a couple of feet from the body and getting drenched,” said an OC official.

The other major flaw is a hillock, which is very close to the firing range and the clay pigeons released at a particular angle crash into it without completing the trajectory.

“We have listed 42 deficiencies in the Karni Singh Ranges. How can we also take charge of the Kadarpur Range that developed a 20 feet deep crater in the middle because of rain? The range was completely washed away.

“I do not know how the Commonwealth Shooting Federation chief, Graeme Hudson, gave it certification. Koi hisab-kitab hoga, kuch len-den hoga (There could be some hanky-panky business),” alleged Sethi.

Sources said Sethi was avoiding certifying the Kadarpur Range because of its faulty design and that is why the Organising Committee got the signatures of Hudson and another expert, Tony Loughnan. “Loughnan has left in a huff after failing to agree on some financial terms,” said Sethi.

The Kadarpur Range, designed by former CRPF director-general, TS Dhillon, is built from North to South. ISSF rules say it should be from South to North!

The source also said that Sethi had raised the issue of “under-the-table deal” in a high-powered committee meeting of the OC. However, Sethi neither confirmed nor denied the allegations but said, “No one gives a certificate by taking such huge risks without some incentives.”

Attempts to contact Hudson were futile as his mobile was switched off.

NRAI to write to ministry

The NRAI is planning to write to the Sports Ministry to consider rifle marksman Gagan Narang for the prestigious Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna Award. A senior NRAI official said, “We would request the government to consider Narang’s application.

Narang is ranked number two in the world and has won three gold and an equal number of bronze medals in the various World Cup.