My rifle is like my baby

I was lucky to be sitting behind when Rajyavardhan Rathore won the double trap silver in Athens 2004 and Abhinav Bindra won the air rifle gold in Beijing 2008.

Anjali Bhagwat... World Cup gold medallist.   -  Getty Images

Shooting is everything for me, it is like my life. I stepped into it with no idea or background. It happened because I was part of the National Cadet Corps (NCC).

When I realised the different requirements and challenges, weapons fascinated me and also the weird gear I saw the seniors wearing. When I started winning, I became aware of the talent within. It was a gradual process and I did not realise when it became my profession.

Later, when I used to take a day or two-day break from shooting, I became restless because I did not get to touch my weapon. It had become part of my life by then. My rifle is like my baby. I respect my weapon and equipments like God for giving me everything I have in my life. From an ordinary, bubbly and unfocussed child in school and college, sport changed me. The performer grew inside me, I learnt how the habit of winning makes you confident. I never dreamt that I can survive in any corner of the world.

Shooting got me many friends, accolades and popularity, the respect in society. Only sport gives you the opportunity to stand on the podium and see the tirangaa rising. I am lucky to get the opportunity several times, when people stood up when our national anthem was played in countries like England and USA. In my next life also, I would love to be a sportsperson.

The sport has progressed in India, from the mess when I started taking part, to running an academy now where students come for training, with latest equipment as required for competitive sport. People track the dominant performances of Indian shooters at CWG, Asian Games and World Championships. The public discuss event by event now and know individual scores. Only shooting has won gold, silver, bronze medals for India at the Olympic Games.

I was lucky to be sitting behind when Rajyavardhan Rathore won the double trap silver in Athens 2004 and Abhinav Bindra won the air rifle gold in Beijing 2008. We jumped for joy and later when the national anthem was played, tears of joy flowed from all those present in the hall. We can also hope for medals in future Olympics. Shooting sport is popular and shooters are now pro sportspersons.

In my competitive days, Sportstar was the only magazine I knew which was dedicated to sport. Writers here and few other publications were the only people following shooting and aware about the sport.

I appreciate the unbiased coverage by Sportstar for each and every discipline, shooting specifically, during the Commonwealth Games, Asian Games and other major events where our achievements were highlighted. Shooting got an equal share in the magazine’s coverage of all sports followed in India.

(As told to Nandakumar Marar)