Shooting is the fastest-growing and most successful sport in the country. The national championships are witnessing more than 10,000 shooters in competition, despite restrictions in terms of eligibility scores. When Jaspal Rana and I won individual Commonwealth Games gold medals in 1994, it was viewed as a path-breaking exercise. Today, Indian shooting has won many medals across all levels, including the Olympics and the World Championships.
It was a golden period for Indian shooting when Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore won the silver in the Athens Olympics in 2004, then the gold in 2008 by Abhinav Bindra in Beijing, and two Olympic medals by Vijay Kumar and Gagan Narang in 2012 in London.
There has been a lull in Rio in 2016 and in Tokyo in 2021. Indian shooters have, perhaps, overtrained and suffered mental fatigue, especially before the last Olympics. Efforts have been made by the national federation to address this in a scientific way, and there is no reason why Indian shooting cannot strike it big in Paris in 2024. Our shooters are absolutely world-class, and they have proven it time and again. Excellent infrastructure is available, especially for air pistol and air rifle across the country. Efficient training has fast-tracked the shooters to great success at a very young age.
Shooting is both technical and mental. It is not physically demanding like the other games. That is why we do so well in chess too.
The government’s support has helped in tremendous growth at the grassroots level, strengthening the base of the pyramid for Indian shooting.
We will continue to excel at all levels in the current flow of things. What needs to be addressed as a priority is the training of Indian coaches to top standards, equipped with knowledge in all aspects. We cannot rely on foreign coaches if we want to capitalise on the enormous growth in the sport and take it to greater heights.
We need to have a strong coaching base to cater to the overwhelming emergence of quality shooters in the country. Together with more and better infrastructure, it will be hard for the rest of the world to match or catch Indian shooting.
As told to Kamesh Srinivasan
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