Behind the hype and security lies very little substance. The Commonwealth Shooting Championship, scheduled to kick off from February 18 at the newly refurbished Dr Karni Singh Ranges, wears a Spartan look, with hardly any international shooter of repute participating in the test event for the Commonwealth Games.
There was feverish activity inside the sprawling complex — which still needs finishing touches to make it soothing to the eyes — but it looked like an exercise in futility given that merely a dozen teams, including minnows like Gibraltar, Kenya and Bangladesh are competing.
An experienced hand, who had witnessed the inaugural edition of the championship at the Ranges in 1995, said he was “disappointed with the fare”. With powerhouses like Australia (scheduled to arrive on Wednesday) and England hardly sending any shooter of repute, it’s likely to be cakewalk for the Indians who will be fielding a relatively full-strength team.
The only international marksman of repute will be 46-year-old Australian double-trap shooter Russell Mark, gold-medallist at the 1996 Atlanta Games. “Barring him, there is no one in shotgun whose name rings a bell. I’m not sure if Russell will be a strong contender given that he has moved to coaching,” said an Indian marksman.
From the organisational point too, there is precious little being done by the organising committee to ensure a good turnout. With entry strictly by invitation and accreditations difficult to come by, the massive spectator arenas at the shotgun ranges and the rows of bucket seats in the 10, 25 and 50m ranges will certainly go unoccupied.
If that is not bad enough, HT has learnt that very few invitations have been sent to present and former marksmen and Arjuna Awardees, including Olympic Games gold-medallist Abhinav Bindra and pistol shooter Jaspal Rana, who fetched the country eight gold in the inaugural edition. With a thousand ‘organisational’ issues occupying the authorities, it’s unlikely the invitations will be sent.
Serious competition commences from February 19.