NRAI to start separate programme for 'transitional shooters'

At times there would be shooters who are no longer junior but are unable to fit into the senior level. This programme will help them and will have separate funding.

With most of the winners being youngsters, the NRAI is cautious of promoting them too soon.   -  GETTY IMAGES

Indian shooters had their best-ever outing at the recent World Cup in Mexico, returning with four gold, one silver and four bronze to top the medals tally for the first time. With most of the winners being youngsters and many of them participating in their first World Cup the National Rifle Association of India (NRAI) is cautious of promoting them too soon.

At a function on Friday, NRAI selection committee member Moraad Ali Khan admitted the federation was working on a plan to ease the transition. “We intend to start a separate programme from this year's national championships for transitional shooters that would see them taken care of for a period of two years to ensure smooth transition.

At times there would be shooters who are no longer junior but are unable to fit into the senior level. This programme will help them and will have separate funding,” he said.

With four shooters per event, there are expected to be 64 included in the category and junior India pistol coach Jaspal Rana welcomed the move. “There are a lot of kids who can’t come to that senior level immediately. For any sportsperson at that level, 1-2 years can destroy their careers,” he said.

At the same time, Rana warned against too much interference. “They don't need to be told how to hold the gun or pull the trigger. The only thing needed is discipline, which I try to maintain but there has to be a balance. As long as they give me the hard work and effort that I demand on the range, they are free to do what they want.

“At times, though, you have to be the bad man when you are faced with over-enthusiastic parents or too many advisers who seek glory too soon. They have to be respected but also told firmly what is best for their kids at this stage,” he smiled.

It was an advice that resonated from NRAI president Raninder Singh. “The only thing I would like to tell these kids is that there would be a lot of people who would want to share your success, coming out of nowhere all of a sudden. But you should keep your head down and concentrate on the sport,” he said.

'Boycott CWG if needed'

Rana was also blunt on what needs to be done in the wake of the 2022 Commonwealth Games organisers deciding to omit shooting from the programme. “The government and the federation has to fight for that. Boycott the competition, prepare for bigger outings. China did not shoot in four Olympics and when they came back they made a clean sweep,” Rana asserted.

Among those present were medallsits Shahzar Rizvi, Anjum Moudgil and Ravi Kumar. While Anish Bhanwala had an exam and could not be resent,
double gold-medalist at Mexico Manu Bhaker came later after her training session. The last two would leave for the Junior World Cup in Sydney later on Friday night along with Rana.