India may have returned empty-handed from the shooting ranges of the Rio Olympics, but it is one sport where the country has bagged many medals at international level.
Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore’s silver medal in double trap at the 2004 Athens Games was followed by Abhinav Bindra’s gold in the 10m air rifle at Beijing in 2008, which marked Indian shooters’ coming of age at the highest level.
Vijay Kumar and Gagan Narang both climbed the podium in London 2012, making shooting one of the most visible Olympic sports in the country.
While that has seen an increase in youngsters taking up shooting in many parts of the country, that has also led to state associations increasing entry fee, making it difficult for newcomers to compete, or take part in more than one event.
The recent Delhi state meet at the Dr Karni Singh ranges was a case in point with beginners and non-members hit hard by the Delhi State Rifle Association’s (DSRA) high entry fees.
Usually, the number of participants goes up after a major event. But that was not the case this time, although India not managing a medal in Rio dampened enthusiasm.
A national level shooter claimed the high entry fee was an issue. “Due to high entry fee, many competed only in one event.”
An official of the Delhi state shooting association said that serious shooters were not affected, and only those who entered for a participation certificate were complaining.
As per a Delhi rifle unit circular, entry fee for non-members was Rs 2000 per event for all rifle and pistol events, double the amount members paid. That meant competing in more than one event, as is usually the case, would have been very expensive.
In shotgun events (trap, double trap and skeet) too it was the same --- Rs 1500 for members and Rs 3000 for non-members.
Delhi shooting body secretary, Rajeev Sharma, denied his office had charged exorbitant amounts as entry fee. “We are charging the same amount the national federation charges during the nationals,” he said.
A Sports Authority of India official said it charges nominal amounts for the use of its ranges for state meets.
Rs 2,000 --- Tariff per range for state-level competitions held by the shooting association.
Rs 2,500 --- Amount charged at the 10m air weapons range as it was air-conditioned. Electricity and furnishing charges are extra.
Rs 160 --- Extra amount charged at 25m non-A/C range.
Rs144 --- Extra amount charged at 50m non-A/C range.
Rs10,000 --- Delhi shooting unit membership fee.
Rs 25,000 --- Delhi shooting unit life membership.
Members are supplied ammunition at nominal rate.
An official of the National Rifle Association of India (NRAI) said its affiliated units had their own entry fee policy. “We don’t interfere, it’s the prerogative of the state units to decide what amount to take,” the official said.
Unlike Delhi, the entry fee charged by the neighbouring Uttar Pradesh State Rifle Association is lesser.
For its upcoming state meet, starting at the Karni Singh shooting ranges from Friday, the state unit has fixed entry fee in this order:
Rs 700 --- For all air-weapon events.
Rs 800 --- For .22 small-bore weapon events.
Rs 1,200 --- For all shotgun events.