Blueprint nowhere near target
Navneet Singhindia Updated: Aug 29, 2012 22:57 IST
An evaluation of our shooters' performance at the Olympics - Athens (2004) to London (2012), throws up a stark fact. The medals were a result of individual brilliance rather than the efforts of the National Rifle Association of India (NRAI).
When Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore climbed the podium in Athens, courtesy the silver in double trap, his performance instilled confidence in the Indian shooters that they too could emulate the feat.
But amid the euphoria, there was also the undeniable point that the Army marksman was good enough for gold.
It was the absence of a concrete developmental programme that had hampered him. This was also the case in Beijing, where India could have had two shotgun shooters in the double trap final.
Abhinav Bindra went a step ahead by striking gold in Beijing, and Vijay Kumar and Gagan Narang may have returned with silver and bronze from London, but the crying need for sustained planning remains.
The NRAI is eyeing five medals in Rio, and with this in mind the federation has allocated 50 per cent of its annual budget to youth programmes. "For the next four years, our Long Term Development Plan will focus on the grassroots," says president, Raninder Singh.
Planning is not enough
But planning alone won't take Indian shooting to greater heights in Rio.
A sound coaching system; quality equipment and infrastructure across the country, in both air weapon and small bore, should be a part of the build-up to 2016.
Infrastructure is an aspect India is woefully behind. There are several states which have little or no facilities for shooting, and even in major centres, the ranges build for the National Games have not been put to proper use.
Tales abound of budding shooters struggling for quality equipment, but things could change with the federation planning to set up 200 air-weapon ranges across the country in the next four years.
A completely new venture for the NRAI, the road ahead is filled with pitfalls and it remains to be seen how far this leads to improving infrastructure.
The absence of quality coaches at the grassroots level is another cause of worry.
"In India, the norm is to buy a weapon and immediately aim for bullseye. This is harmful for budding shooters. At least six-eight months should be spent on learning the basics," says Ukrainian coach, Anatoli Poddubnyi. If India are to have more marksmen on the podium, the NRAI will need to adopt a far-sighted approach rather than pat itself after each Olympics.