Darshna Rathore shot brilliantly in the final to clinch the National championship gold, ahead of World Cup medallist Ganemat Sekhon.

However, the stringent selection policy of the National Rifle Association of India (NRAI) has grounded the second-year college student from Rajasthan. The 20-year-old Darshna, already employed by Rajasthan Police, missed the Minimum Travel Score (MTS) of 116 by one point. The national federation had hiked the MTS from 113, possibly to make the shooters earn their international exposure the hard way.

However, with the pandemic causing havoc in sports schedules, it was hard for the shooters, especially in the shotgun section, who were struggling to acquire ammunition and find ranges to train.

Only two women skeet shooters, Maheshwari Chauhan and Areeba Khan, have been selected by NRAI for one of the two World Cups, leaving four vacancies. Darshna was placed third in the averages, in the tabulation made from the scores of National championship and two trials.

Shotgun teams for World Cups announced  

‘’It is disheartening. But, I will try to prepare well for the next trials scheduled in May. Now, the goal is to make the team for the Asian Games and World Championships’’, said Darshna, who did not have enough time to prepare for the trials spread over four days.

Already the selection policy states that no shooter will get to shoot more than two World Cups in a season. Together with the higher MTS, the cream of Indian shooting could be starved of international competition. This despite the national federation opening the scope for international participation to the top six shooters instead of three.

Ironically, only one woman shooter, Olympian Shagun Chaudhary in trap, has got the nod for the second shotgun World Cup in Lima, Peru.

With the Sports Ministry supporting the sport big time, Indian shooting has dominated the world last two years. However, with the 15-member shooting contingent drawing a blank at the Tokyo Olympics, the NRAI opted to try new ways for success in Olympics. It has perhaps shaken the very foundation for international excellence.

Without regular competition at the international level, Indian shooters may not be the force they once were, and it may eventually have an impact on the number of Olympic quotas won for the Paris 2024 Games.