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Young shooter Anish Bhanwala holds promise but top marksmen cautiously optimistic

Anish Bhanwala continued his impressive run at the National Championships currently underway in Thiruvananthapuram, winning gold in 25m rapid-fire pistol, defeating the likes of Olympian Gurpreet Singh, among others, in the final.

other-sports Updated: Dec 21, 2017 20:00 IST
Navneet Singh
Navneet Singh
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Teenage pistol shooter from Haryana Anish Bhanwala (2R) continued his impressive run at the National Championships currently underway in Thiruvananthapuram, winning gold in 25m rapid-fire pistol.
Teenage pistol shooter from Haryana Anish Bhanwala (2R) continued his impressive run at the National Championships currently underway in Thiruvananthapuram, winning gold in 25m rapid-fire pistol. (HT Photo)
         

Teenage pistol shooter from Haryana Anish Bhanwala continued his impressive run at the National Championships currently underway in Thiruvananthapuram, winning gold in 25m rapid-fire pistol. What makes his achievement outstanding is the fact that he defeated the likes of Olympian Gurpreet Singh, among others, in the final. Bhanwala also won the junior title.

The 15-year-old had shot to prominence when he scored 579 in 25m standard pistol to eclipse the world record in the junior World Championship at Suhl, Germany in June. He then excelled in the senior national selection trials and won silver in the Commonwealth Championship in November.

By virtue of being the national champion in the senior category, Bhanwala will get an automatic berth in the squad for the Commonwealth Games in Gold Coast, Australia in 2018.

However, multiple times Commonwealth Games gold medallist in pistol shooting Samresh Jung is cautiously optimistic. “It is important for juniors with good record in the senior category to stay focused. It’s better to move up at this age. It will be challenging initially, but it will pay in the long run,” he said.

Jung felt that sometimes scores are not the parameter to judge a young shooter’s mental ability. “Harmony of mind and body is a must for steady performance at the senior level. A weak mindset restricts performance at the world level, where the competition is very tough,” he said.

For decades, the rapid-fire pistol event has been dominated by the Army and Paramilitary shooters as it is mentally and physically demanding, besides being expensive. But the school-going shooter has made experts take notice partly because he has a family which can support his expensive training.

The cost of each round ranges between Rs 9 to Rs 30 depending on the quality of the ammunition. While budding shooters use cheaper ammo, the top group --- mostly Army marksmen --- prefers high-end ammunition as it is more accurate. On an average, a 60-shot match costs around R1800 with high-end ammo.

India’s junior national pistol coach Jaspal Rana, a child prodigy himself when he came on the national scene in the early 90s, while appreciating Bhanwala’s efforts also sounds a warning. “He is doing well, but it’s important to sustain the effort over a period of time. Rapid fire is taxing. If the shooter loses focus or isn’t disciplined, it becomes difficult to perform at the top level,” he said.

The four-time Asian Games gold medallist feels that young shooters having potential need to be nurtured carefully. “After winning a few events, promising youngsters have a tendency to lose track. It’s important to follow good principles for consistent performance,” he said

According to Jung, winning a world junior title and replicating the feat at the senior level are two different poles. In 2006, Navnath Fartade won the air rifle world junior title at Zagreb, Croatia but struggled at the senior level.

“Promising shooters need to formulate a long-term plan. Otherwise, performance becomes erratic,” said Jung.

First Published: Dec 21, 2017 20:00 IST

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