‘I want to make shooting the No 1 sport’
Ace shooter Gagan Narang has launched a one-of-its-kind shooting academy, Gun For Glory, at the Shivaji Chatrapati Sports Complex in Pune, along with sports NGO Lakshya. Set in the Balewadi complex shooting range, the academy will provide 15-day to a year’s residential training in rifle, pistol and shotgun. There are also 100-day distance training and advance training programmes for shooters from across the country, along with specialist coaching and coach education for Indian coaches.
“This is my way of giving something back to the country. The four record-breaking gold medals at the Commonweath Games last year was the trigger,” says Narang, who is currently ranked Asia No. 1, after winning 16 international medals in 2010. “Our performance at the CWG sparked off a lot of interest in shooting. Everywhere I went, parents were asking me where they could send their children for training. That’s how the idea of the academy came up. Though we will be catering only to a select few, the response has been overwhelming.”
Ruing over the fact that our immense talent lacks proper guidance and infrastructure, Narang, our flag bearer at the Asian Games last year, promises all the facilities needed to build a champ, including a sports injury management team, psychologists, physiotherapists, a foreign armorer and yoga guru, dietitians, masseurs, gyms, swimming pools, and even a gun testing facility and equipment control.
“Parents of children will be counselled so they don’t add to the pressure through their over-expectations. We plan to tie up with some educational institutions too so these students can continue with their academics smoothly,” says Narang, whose parents had to sell off a plot of land to fund his training. “I wouldn’t want any other parent to have to do that. I want to give young talent all the support I didn’t get.”
Narang, the first Indian to qualify for the 2012 London Olympics, will himself be training at Balewade as he tweaks his technique and tests new equipment in preparation for the World Championship and the Olympics. He is ready to dissipate his experience
and expertise through off-day lectures and sessions. But he will leave the day-to-day administration to the Indian team’s assistant coach Pawan Singh and international ace shooter and consulting director Ronak Pandit. Three full-time foreign coaches will also be around for pistol and rifle training.
A player can get a year’s training at the academy for the cost of a week’s training abroad. Lakshya will adopt a few top shooters and
provide free stay, travel, equipment and training at the academy. Five players from the state government-run Krida Prabodhini scheme will also get special attention.
The aim of the academy is obviously to help our sportspersons add to the medal tally, after Abhinav Bindra set the ball rolling in Beijing with the first individual gold in the 2008 Olympics.
“Too much importance is given to the Olympics maybe because of the aura around the Games. We have the World Championships happening every year and the CWG and the Asiads every four years too. The effort to win a medal is the same for every tournament,” points out Narang, “The CWG for us was what the Asiads were for the Chinese. I’m glad we peaked at the right time. It’s not easy to stay on the top when two sporting events are so closely spaced. Thank God the CWG came before, it would have been shameful if we had disappointed before a home crowd.”
Mumbai is the next destination for another Gun For Glory. “Eventually, I want an academy in every city across the country and it could happen with corporate support. I want the franchises to reach the grassroots and make shooting the No 1 sport in our country,” he asserts. “The name defines our goal. Ten years from now, I want our shooters to pick up the rifle or pistol and gun for
glory. I want India to be the shooting superpower.”
And two years from now, will he gun for glory in London? Narang smiles, “Every time I go out there, I go out to win. Sometimes it’s your day, sometimes it isn’t. If his academy could help Mahesh Bhupathi win 10 Grand Slams, may be mine can help me recapture the World No 1 slot that I took in 2006. And return with an Olympic gold too.”