Mairaj and other top shooters get into groove with range practice

Olympian Mairaj Ahmad Khan and other top shooters of the country are happy to train at the range once it was thrown open for the elite shooters earlier this month.

File photo of Mairaj Ahmad Khan, who finished ninth in skeet shooting at Rio Games.   -  Kamesh Srinivasan

Olympian Mairaj Ahmad Khan is on a mission as he wants to add an Olympic medal to his collection after having finished ninth in Rio 2016.

He missed the final in the shoot off, after scoring 121 out of 125 in skeet, Mairaj is determined to prepare better.

"I rented a home near the Karni Singh Shooting Range in February, so that I can prepare good for the Games," said Mairaj, who hails from Khurja, near Aligarh. But currently where he is put up it is a seven-minute drive to the range.

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With the COVID-19 pandemic forcing a lockdown, Mairaj was compelled "to do body weight training and dry training".

Understandably, Mairaj was happy to train at the range once it was thrown open for the elite shooters earlier this month.

"I train for about four days a week, and shoot 250 cartridges a day. The Sports Authority of India (SAI) has installed target throwing machines that would be used in Tokyo, at range No.6, for skeet. I train alone and use that range," said Mairaj, who has now been joined by other skeet shooters Sheeraz Sheikh and Gurjoat Singh.

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"I am very impressed with the arrangements. Security, sanitisation and social distancing norms are followed strictly at the range," said Mairaj.

Pistol shooter Manu Bhaker also stayed with her parents, close by in Faridabad for about 10 days, to capitalise on the training time at the Tughlakabad range.

"She wanted to do 25-metre training," said Manu’s dad Ram Kishan Bhaker, who has installed an electronic target system for the 10-metre air pistol, at home.

Deepak Kumar, Divyansh Singh Panwar, Sanjeev Rajput, Anish Bhanwala and Parul Kumar were some of the other shooters who opted to train at the Dr. Karni Singh Range.