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Shooting costs threaten to keep aspirants off the mark

In upcoming state level competitions, the entry fee for 10m air weapon will be between Rs 1000 to Rs 2000. Two years ago, it was around Rs 500. In shotgun events, the entry fee is Rs 3000.

other sports Updated: Jun 28, 2017 17:35 IST
Navneet Singh
Officials of state units blame escalating costs to a lack of modern shooting infrastructure in their region.
Officials of state units blame escalating costs to a lack of modern shooting infrastructure in their region.(Twitter)

After Abhinav Bindra became India’s first individual Olympics champion in men’s 10m air rifle event in 2008, his outstanding feat was inspiring for youngsters. Post the Beijing Games, there was a surge in participation, particularly in the air weapon, at the state and subsequently at the national level.

However, competing has become increasingly expensive, and this might discourage greenhorns taking up the Olympic discipline in the near future. In upcoming state level competitions, the entry fee for 10m air weapon will be between Rs 1000 to Rs 2000. Two years ago, it was around Rs 500. In shotgun events, the entry fee is Rs 3000.

Costs skyrocket

Officials of state units blame escalating costs to a lack of modern infrastructure in their region. States like Delhi, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh all organise state meets at the Dr Karni Singh Shooting Ranges in the outskirts of the Capital, which was renovated for the 2010 Commonwealth Games.

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On an average, the daily rent of the 10m air weapon range comes to between Rs 25,000 and Rs 30,000. The ranges have facilities for shotgun as well as rifle and pistol.

According to Ramendra Kumar Sharma, general secretary of the Uttar Pradesh Rifle Association, the overall expenditure for a five-day meet last year was close to Rs 2.5 lakh. “This year, there is a 200 per cent increase in the cost,” he said. Sharma estimates the expenses for this year’s event to be around Rs 7.5 lakh.

Seeking new venues

With the organising costs spiralling, Sharma is searching for an alternative venue. “Since shooters have to travel all the way to Delhi, it’s very expensive. We have plans to build ranges in Meerut. It will be more economical for the shooters,” he said.

In Haryana, there are few takers for a discipline that got India four Olympic medals since the 2004 Athens Games.

Ashok Mittal, secretary of the Haryana State Rifle Association, said: “Since we don’t have the means to raise funds, we have increased the entry fee.”

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However, international shotgun (double trap) shooter Ronjan Sodhi believes robust advertisement of the sport to attract sponsors is the way to tackle the situation. “The facilities, though they have improved as many private ranges have come up, are (still) on expected lines. At least one range should be operational in the main pockets,” he said.

Shooters, however, are helpless. “If we protest, we will be blacklisted and our career will come to an end,” said a shooter on condition of anonymity.