Non-functional firing points at the prestigious Karni Singh Shooting Ranges could force shooters participating in the National championships next month to drastically alter their schedule, and could also lead to a host of other logistical problems.
Due to poor maintenance of the ranges, renovated at a cost in excess of Rs. 250 crore for the 2010 Commonwealth Games, quite a few firing points in the 10, 25 and 50m ranges are non-functional, which is giving sleepless night to the National Rifle Association of India (NRAI).
With record participation expected during the December 19-30 event, the NRAI is fearing a huge backlog, and that the event might have to be extended into the New Year.
The issues with the ranges apart, the federation might also have a tough time accommodating so many shooters in hotels for more than the scheduled dates.
NRAI advisor, Baljeet Singh Sethi, has already raised the alarm.
"For the conduct of the National events, it's is imperative that maximum number of firing points are functional."
The federation had sent a proposal to the Sports Authority of India (SAI) for 70 functional firing points each in the 10m and 50m ranges and 40 firing points in the 25m range.
But SAI has expressed its inability to meet that demand, saying they are not in a position to provide the number of firing points as demanded by the NRAI.
There are at least 80 firing points in the 10m range, but SAI's top official, PC Kashyap, says only 60 are functional. Kashyap feels this should be sufficient to hold the Nationals.
But the federation and the shooters say this is inadequate. During December, says a top shooter, the weather conditions in Delhi may limit the scope of competition, especially in the 25 and 50m ranges.
"Beyond a certain time, no outdoor competition can take place because of bad light," said the shooter.
The organising secretary of the championship, Deep Bhatia, however, feels the issue can be resolved "if SAI fixes some of the damaged points". He, however, is not in favour of shifting the event elsewhere.
"At this moment, it isn't practical to shift the competition as participants have already made travel plans," said Bhatia.
Kashyap says 'novices' are the reason for so many damaged firing points.
"Several beginners who utilise the ranges under the 'come-and-play' scheme lack basic target-shooting sense. Hence, costly equipment has been damaged. In future, only."