National shooting – the last stop before Olympic qualifiers

The National Rifle Association of India (NRAI) has made the National Championship the most important event in the calendar by keeping the scores achieved in the competition as the basis for National selection. Thus, all the prominent Indian shooters would be competing in the championship.

Amidst the numerous selection trials and Olympic trials, Abhinav Bindra has managed to find time to train in Germany for his fifth Olympics in Rio.   -  Sandeep Saxena

At the fag end of a hectic season, the 59th National shooting championship will be held in the Capital to provide the shooters a boost in their quest for Olympic berths.

Originally scheduled to be held in Jharkhand, the championship for rifle and pistol was shifted to the Dr. Karni Singh Range, Tughlakabad, where the electronic targets were refurbished at a cost of about Rs.7.5 crore.

The range had hosted the low-intensity Asian Air Gun Championship with considerable success. It would have been an ideal test had the shotgun events been staged at the Karni Singh Range instead of being held in Jaipur, for it would have served as a final test for the range before the Olympic qualifying event (rifle, pistol and shotgun), to be staged here from January 25 to February 3.

For the shooters who went through the National Games at the beginning of the season, followed by the four World Cups and the Asian Championship in Kuwait – from which the Olympic qualification status was revoked by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) – there is no clear line between the beginning and the end of a season.

Amidst the numerous selection trials and Olympic trials, someone like the World and Olympic champion Abhinav Bindra managed to find time for the Bundesliga in Germany as part of the tuning process for his fifth Olympics in Rio.

So far, eight Olympic quota places have been secured by the Indian shooters, Jitu Rai, Apurvi Chandela, Gagan Narang, Abhinav Bindra, Gurpreet Singh, Chain Singh, Prakash Nanjappa and Mairaj Ahmad Khan. With 35 quota places on offer in the last event for Asia, the hosts would be eyeing many more quota places.

The National Rifle Association of India (NRAI) has made the National Championship the most important event in the calendar by keeping the scores achieved in the competition as the basis for National selection. Thus, all the prominent Indian shooters would be competing in the championship.

The organisers, in fact, were coping with the flow of entries until late in the evening on Tuesday, and were unable to give a clear picture about the number of entries even in the events that begin Wednesday – men’s air pistol, free pistol and women’s sports pistol.

With juniors and youth also in competition, the overall entries were estimated to be about 3500. It will be a challenge for the organisers and the range to cope with such a large number, but it is not a new phenomenon in Indian shooting that has enjoyed considerable success at all levels over the years.