Second edition of online shooting championship on April 25

With no sporting action due to the COVID-19 pandemic, even Formula One and chess championships have switched to alternatives in ESports and online gaming.

The first round saw the experienced Amanpreet Singh (576) take the top spot in 10m air pistol.   -  FILE PHOTO/ SANDEEP SAXENA

 

The success of the first online international shooting championship last Wednesday, amid the nationwide lockdown due to the novel coronavirus outbreak, has encouraged organiser and former India shooter Shimon Sharif to make arrangements for a second edition come April 25. "In fact, we are planning to host it every week now till the lockdown is there," the Delhi-based marksman told Sportstar.

The first round saw the experienced Amanpreet Singh (576) take the top spot in 10m air pistol, followed by Ashish Dabas (575) and Manu Bhaker (572) in the second and third place respectively. The only Indian who finished in the top three of the 10m air rifle category was Meghana Sajjanar with a score of 630.5. "Staging the qualification was a challenge. Now, since it got a thumbs up from the shooting fraternity we will be having the finals on (April) 25th," said Sharif, who runs the website indianshooting.com.

International attention and free registrations

The competition, which was streamed live on Facebook, has fetched more than 10,000 views, thus far. "The next day, the format will be much more viewer-friendly and engaging because we will have the elimination round. It will be exciting to see people moving up and down the ladder, complete with commentary," said Sharif.

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With no entry fee, Sharif was able to attract a total of 50 shooters from seven countries. It included top names which included Hungary's Veronika Major, who competes in both pistol and Running Target competitions, veteran Austrian shooter Martin Strempfl and Frenchman Etienne Germond. "A lot of shooters were sceptical initially and were not sure about how things would go on and how transparent would it all be. After the positive response, I am sure, there will be many new names added to the list of participants," said Sharif, who started shooting professionally in 1995.

Sharif aims to make the online competition as realistic as possible. He said, "This time we will have an online press conference too. There is hardly any difference because shooting is not a contact sport. At the range, you do not get coached after each shot and you do not talk to anyone. At home, it is all the same."

What added to the feel and value of the tournament was the presence of Olympians like Peter Sidi and Joydeep Karmakar in the commentary box. Also, signed in were former India rifle coach Laszlo Szucsak and pistol coach Csaba Gyorik. Heena Sidhu, bronze medalist at the 2018 Asian Games in 10m air pistol, was in attendance, as well.

Future of online championships

With live sporting action at a standstill, many sporting events like Formula One and chess championships have switched to alternatives in ESports and online gaming. Sharif feels an official online shooting championship might not be that distant a dream now. "It can obviously become a reality. The electronic targets are the same. You can even have shotgun events. The only difference might be that you have to go to a range to organise that and you can connect with someone in some other part of the world.

"There is not much (logistical) effort put into it. You just have to call some people and everyone logs in on Zoom. It was all done sitting at our respective houses."

With the Tokyo 2020 Olympics postponed, Sharif believes competitions like these would keep shooters engaged.

"With hardly any competition in 2020 shooters have shifted to training indoors. But they don't train under added pressure. Shooting in your training sessions is very different from shooting in competitions. Our competition provided a good training platform. As they were also shooting with other top performers and knew that people are watching it, it created a match environment."

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