The International Shooting Sports Federation (ISSF) has stipulated that male and female competitors will fire 60 shots each, starting January 1, 2018, to usher in gender equality in the sport.
It is a change from the 60 (male) and 40 (female) shots rule in force to determine positions in events. Mixed events, involving male and female shooters as a pair, were also introduced worldwide to make the sport more eye-catching.
Twenty top Indian shooters will get a first-hand experience of the rule change at an invitation competition organized by Lakshya Shooting Club (LSC), founded by Olympic shooter Suma Shirur.
“The Lakshya Cup 2017 will be held under the ISSF 60-shot rule for men and women. The nation’s leading shooters, invited for the event on Saturday, will gain experience before the rule comes into force.
"Two selection trials are scheduled next year by the federation, so I feel this opportunity will help them perform better when India selection is at stake,” said the 10m air rifle finalist for India on Olympic debut at the 2004 Athens Games.
“Indians are on par with the best. Our talented shooters need to be in competition mode as much as possible for results.”
Women at par with men
A holder of the 10m AR world mark once, Suma said: “I am happy the world body is moving towards creating gender equality. Women can certainly compete on par with the men, given a level playing field. Wonder why the realization took so long to happen. I would joke that the ISSF was worried about women outperforming men if allowed to shoot equal attempts.”
The Lakshya Cup 2017, which will use electronic targers, will be held at the world-class Karnala Sports Academy range where the LSC is based. “Ten years ago, Lakshya trainees had an internal year-end competition, when all shooters, male or females fired equal shots. We also staged mixed events (male and female pairs) to attract people interest towards shooting sport.”
The Lakshya Cup 2017, powered by RR Group, will also have mixed events. “The best male and female shooters will compete against each other. For the women participants especially, doing a 60-shot event here is like a trial before the two selection trials later in 2018,” pointed out Suma, who coached Ayonika Paul - India’s debutant in women’s 10m air rifle - at the 2016 Rio Olympics.
“India is so good at this sport, success is all about finding more and more youngsters and providing them with an opportunity to participate.”
Shooting league need of the hour
The Olympian from Navi Mumbai focussed on the need for money in the sport. “It is the only sport where you are always spending more than you get. Even for those winning medals at the Asian Games, Commonwealth Games, the cash incentives is only reimbursement for money spent from own pocket for years.
"This situation needs to change and a shooting league will help bring in more sponsorship money into the sport for the competitors to benefit. Otherwise, how long can a family support a shooter.”
The LSC-organised event will have prize money in various categories and is dedicated to coach Sanjay Chakraverty, a Dronacharya awardee, and teacher to world-class shooters Suma, Anjali Bhagwat, Gagan Narang, Deepali Deshpande, to name a few Olympians groomed by him.
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