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Oz shooters recall ‘journey through hell’

A leading Australian fullbore shooter, here for the Commonwealth Games, has termed the competition at the Kadarpur Ranges a “farce”.

other Updated: Oct 21, 2010 00:20 IST
Ajai Masand

A leading Australian fullbore shooter, here for the Commonwealth Games, has termed the competition at the Kadarpur Ranges a “farce”.

As reported by Hindustan Times on October 14, the event was marred by angry protests with many aggrieved shooters holding up competition, forcing the chief jury of appeal and other officials to rush to the range to bring sanity.

James Corbett, 51, arguably the best fullbore marksman in Australia with over three decades of experience, has written to HT saying, “We are devastated by the ineptitude of the promoting body (National Rifle Association of India and Commonwealth Shooting Federation) in providing a clear set of rules. Our reputation and sport was bought to disrepute by a few individuals who had no regard for the integrity of the competition. The host nation must take responsibility and, therefore, I humbly ask the Indian Prime Minister for a written apology to everyone of the 42 shooters (who participated in the fullbore competition).”

Corbett, who was accompanied by fellow shooter Geoff Grenfell, said the hard work put in over the last four years had come to naught. “We came through an extremely tough elimination series to determine the two best shooters to represent Australia. In April, we travelled to Delhi for the CSF Championships (a pre-event for the CWG) at Kardapur.

“However, it was apparent from Day One that the target system was faulty with some of the earlier 300m shooters having to fire over 20 rounds to have 10 counting shots recorded on the monitor. The contractors for the targets, Sius Ascor, were having great difficulty in ensuring reliability of the system. The software engineer revealed the operating system was 30-years-old. We held a meeting with CSF chairman, Graeme Hudson, and told him there were a lot of deficiencies.

“When we arrived at the Games Village on October 1, we were shocked to discover the contractors had failed to rectify the target system during the six-month rest. A managers’ meeting was called. It was agreed that in the event of unusual, missed or unexplained shots, the shooters would be given another round to fire as a provisional shot. After five days of practice, a few targets were deemed to be terminally malfunctioning. We commenced competition with much apprehension. On the fourth day, both Geoff and I were leading the pairs match and were placed first and second in the individual match. The fifth day can only be described as hell. At the longest range, 1000 yards, and competition, targets started to fail and so did tempers and the ability to control order. Geoff’s target malfunctioned so badly that at one stage he was battling to record a hit.”

Both Australian shooters saw their scores plummet and they were not alone. Almost all the teams bore the brunt. “Rules were not being applied evenly for all countries and written protests started to circulate,” he said.

TS Dhillon, sports manager at Kadarpur, said, "Australians are bad losers. They are crying foul because they finished below the Indians." The hosts finished 11th while Australia came 14th in pairs.

He conceded there were protests but claimed there was nothing in writing. "There were 42 shooters, we cannot appease everyone," he said.