Even as the Sports Authority of India (SAI) finds it hard to strike a pact with the Maharashtra government on the use of the state-of-the- art Shiv Chhatrapati Complex shooting range in Pune due to monetary constraints, a 34-member shooting contingent has been cleared for a tour of Hungary and Germany at almost double — some say triple — the cost of organising a camp in Pune.
What defies logic is that the shooters have gone without a national camp since October last and are in desperate need of training rather than competition and here they are being sent for a one-and-a-half-hour long competition.
Interestingly, the Hungarian Open doesn’t even figure on the International Shooting Sport Federation (ISSF) calendar.
The Hungarian air weapon competition from January 23-25 has an entry fee of euro 30 per shooter, while decent accommodation for two is in the range of euro 50. Add to it the airfare and one gets a mind-boggling bill for a weeklong trip to Europe.
“It’s a waste of time and money,” said a SAI official. “As it is, the 52nd National Shooting Championships in Thodupuzha (Kerala) was lacklustre with hardly any heartening performances barring a few. When the need of the hour is to prepare shooters by holding camps, we are sending them for competition without preparation,” he said.
“In this cost we can host a camp for 150 shooters for over two months in the country. Probably, we are the only country which is sending such a huge contingent to this tournament,” said the official.
National Rifle Association of India (NRAI) secretary-general, Baljeet Sethi, while confirming the team’s departure on Wednesday night, said the tournaments would give the shooters exposure.
“With no camp here, it’s good they’ll get exposure abroad. Once they return, a camp will be organised. I think SAI has struck a deal with the Maharashtra government for use of the Chhatrapati Complex,” he said.
The question that arises is do top shooters like Annuraj Singh and Shweta Choudhry need exposure in such small competitions though they have travelled the world many times over?