The National Rifle Association of India (NRAI) is proposing a brand new big bore shooting range at Kajalpur near Manesar for the 2010 Commonwealth Games at the cost of crores of rupees to the exchequer. But the chances of India winning a medal in the event are quite slim.
The federation has been finding it hard to even organise the national championship in the event for the last one-and-a-half years and no one knows when they last organised a national camp. Even the NRAI secretary-general Baljeet Singh Sethi concedes that there are difficulties. “For the last one-and-a-half years, we are trying to hold the nationals for big bore but no state unit is coming forward to hold the event. Moreover, earlier the Army used to conduct the event, but now they are not interested. And without the nationals, we can’t get potential shooters for the Games,” says Sethi.
The last big bore nationals for 2006-07 were held at the Army Marksmanship Unit at the Infantry School in Mhow in January 2007. The NRAI failed to hold the 2007-08 nationals. Still the powers-that-be are proposing a range at the CRPF centre in Kajalpur, which would again be out of bounds for the civilians once the Games are done with. All this despite the fact that a big bore range can be constructed right inside the Karni Singh Ranges (KSSR) in Tughlakabad, the showpiece range in the country. Sources say there was a provision for big bore range in the master plan for the KSSR and that the land given back to the Delhi Development Authority (DDA) is still lying unused. They say that with proper planning and use of bafflers at right angles, it can easily host the event.
They aver that, at least the Sports Authority of India would have its first big bore range that could be easily accessed by the civilians after the Games. Huge sums were spent on the Nicholson Range in Delhi for the Commonwealth Championships in 1995, and it has hardly been used ever since. Interestingly, that was also the last time an Indian big bore team participated in an international competition.
During the 2006 Commonwealth Games in Melbourne, India won a record 27 medals, including 16 gold, but none in big bore. Former international big bore marksman Col J.S. Dhillon says, “Our standards in big bore is not as good as other Commonwealth countries and the way we are treating the event, it will impossible for us to even come up with a decent showing at the 2010 Games.”
It’s strange that despite the pitfalls of building a range inside an Army area — there are more than 50 Army big bore ranges across the country and yet the federation has not been able to organise the nationals for the last 18 months — the NRAI is proposing a range at the CRPF centre.
Sethi agrees that medal chances are slim. “We stand very little chance of winning a medal in the event. And that’s why we are requesting the govt to prepare a range for us so that our wards can practice there.”
Interestingly, the person the NRAI is proposing to supervise the Kajalpur range is CRPF IG, T.S. Dhillon. Recently HT carried a report about a 50m shooting range in Badal village (Punjab), supervised by T.S. Dhillon, which had to be dismantled because of grave technical faults.