Former international rifle shooter and coach of the junior India team Deepali Deshpande said there is no dearth of talent. “The country abounds in talent, but if upcoming shooters are not able to deliver it’s due lack of proper nurturing,” she told HT on the sidelines of the International Shooting Sport Federation (ISSF) World Cup here at the Dr Karni Singh Shooting Ranges.
Deshpande says Indian shooters are better than most in the world. “Indian shooters are better in terms of education and IQ (Intelligence quotient).But it is just one aspect. Since we don’t have a proper system to nurture, talent doesn’t sparkle,” she said.
“Outside the national camp many shooters can’t afford to spend big on ammunition. Each .22 cartridge costs R30. If 200 cartridges are used in one training session, it costs R6000, which is not within the reach of most shooters,” she added.
In the season opening World Cup, Asian sporting powerhouse China fielded its development team and dominated the competition winning as many as six gold and as many silver medals to top the tally.
Some of India’s upcoming rifle shooters including Meghna Sajjanar and Vinita Bhardwaj failed to reach the final. Pistol shooter Neeraj Kumar made final cut in 25m rapid fire pistol but was the first to be eliminated.
Since Abhinav Bindra’s Olympic gold in 2008, the government has softened its stance on weapon import for precision shooting. Several academies have also mushroomed across the country.
Asian Games champion in double trap Ronjan Sodhi says, it has definitely given budding shooters a good opportunity to start early. “With better training facilities from an early age there is always a possibility of doing better when the shooter matures. Things were different some 10 or 15 years back. It was not easy to get a weapon,” he said.
Men’s 10m air rifle national champion Ravi Kumar used to train with a borrowed weapon during his formative years. Things changed only after he joined the Navy in 2012. “Being from a middle class family it was difficult to pursue an event like 50m rifle prone,” he said.
The Navy shooter who reached the final of the 10m air rifle in the World Cup, said: “I was competing with the best with a 2007 model rifle. Without modern weapons it’s difficult to compete with world class shooters.”