National Games: ‘Fun routine’ becomes rewarding pursuit for the diligent Sri Karthik

“I don’t need motivation to shoot,” says Sri Karthik Sabari Raj, who shot a 632.2 to top the qualification round of the men’s 10m air rifle event during the National Games, missing the seven-year-old junior qualification world record by half a point.

Since 2020, Sri Karthik Sabari Raj has been training at Gagan Narang’s shooting academy ‘Guns for Glory.’

Since 2020, Sri Karthik Sabari Raj has been training at Gagan Narang’s shooting academy ‘Guns for Glory.’ | Photo Credit: Twitter/ @SrikarthikSaba1

“I don’t need motivation to shoot,” says Sri Karthik Sabari Raj, who shot a 632.2 to top the qualification round of the men’s 10m air rifle event during the National Games, missing the seven-year-old junior qualification world record by half a point.

Sri Karthik Sabari Raj doesn’t have many friends in the shooting community, but he doesn’t mind.

He has just shot 632.2 to top the qualification round of the men’s 10m air rifle event during the National Games at the Ahmedabad Military and Rifle Training Association Range in Khanpur, missing the seven-year-old junior qualification world record by half a point.

Although it wouldn’t have counted as a junior world record had he breached the mark, as the National Games are not an ISSF-accreditated event, it would have been no mean feat. The record is currently held by Tokyo Olympic gold medallist Yang Haoran of China.

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Aishwarya Pratap Singh Tomar (631.5), Rudrankksh B. Patil (630.7), Kiran A. Jadhav (630.3), Divyansh Singh Panwar (629.6), Arshdeep Singh (628.4), Hriday Hazarika (627.4), and Arjun Babuta (627.3) are the others who made the final, which is scheduled to be held on Friday.

Not star struck

Karthik has competed against popular Tamil actor Ajith Kumar at the shooting ranges in Chennai, but isn’t yet star struck. “Yes, I have shot with him (Ajith). It was a good experience. But honestly, in a range you don’t really see who’s beside you,” he says.

His mother, a lawyer, was the one who got him to fall in love with shooting. It was a welcome break from chess, a sport he didn’t like. “I used to go for my chess classes at the Jawaharlal Nehru stadium in Chennai. At that time, my mom used to walk around. That’s how she came across the shooting range. Later, she asked me whether I wanted to do it. I said, ‘why not?’ and now we are here.”

Taking up shooting professionally, however, was never on Karthik’s mind. “It just started as a fun routine in 2016. Nothing serious. I saw a few people shooting at the JLN Stadium, Chennai. I followed them and it is still going on.”

Since 2020, Karthik has been training at Olympic medallist Gagan Narang’s academy ‘Gun for Glory’, where Neha Chavan is his personal coach. “Gagan sir is very helpful. I think I am improving every day. He is putting in a lot of effort.”

When asked if a good score here ensures he is much more confident ahead of the junior leg of October’s World Championship in Cairo, he says, “I don’t think so. Because I have always been preparing for it... I never have a tough phase. It is a game I love and it is meant to stay with me for a lifetime. I don’t need motivation to shoot.”

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