Time to innovate: Online competition steps up training for shooters

Ved Prakash Sharma, a qualified coach and an ISSF-approved official, conducted two competitions which attracted about 60 Indian shooters.

A shooter competing online, connected through her laptop computer. - SPECIAL ARRANGEMENT

In the worst of the global health crisis, Indian shooting stays robust and looks to move forward. An online competition for rifle and pistol shooters across the country successfully conducted over the weekend has opened new avenues for efficient training in pursuit of excellence.

Ved Prakash Sharma, a qualified coach and an ISSF-approved official, conducted the two competitions from his base in Anand Vihar, Delhi, which attracted about 60 shooters from different parts of the country, including Lucknow, Meerut, Muzaffarnagar and Nagpur. They were all connected by the internet.

The shooters were shooting on the electronic targets at their home, and the computers connected through two applications that provided live video and scores to the central module. “I have been in shooting sport for about 30 years, first as a shooter, then as a coach and official. I had learnt from the shooting guru Tibor Gonczol when he came to India for the first time in 1993. I used to travel 140 kilometres every day to shoot with Jaspal Rana’s pistol at the Siri Fort Shooting Range in those days,” recalled Ved Prakash, who got the online idea from the Chinese.

When the coronavirus outbreak caused the lockdown first in China, they held a two-day contest between the national team and four provincial teams from Shanxi, Jiangsu, Zhejiang and Shanghai, online, to check the readiness of the shooters after months of training in winter. The teams joined from their training base through live broadcast, for the first online shooting competition in China.

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Some of the accomplished shooters like Wang Mengyi and Yang Haoran had won the competition then.

No entry fee

“I got this idea, reading about criticism on the training camp for the national team at the Dr. Karni Singh Range in Tughlakabad. And once I came across the report about China conducting an online competition in shooting, I decided that we should also try it. There was good response to our effort, and we didn’t charge any entry fee,” said Ved Prakash, who invited Asian Games gold medallist and World Championship silver medallist Jitu Rai to inaugurate the online competition from his army base in Mhow, Indore.

Ved Prakash Sharma, the shooter, coach and official who conducted the first online shooting competition in the country. - SPECIAL ARRANGEMENT

 

“We will do it much bigger in future. State competitions can be done this way, so that shooters don’t have to travel. Most of the shooters have invested in electronic targets. That is the basic requirement for online competition. I am also trying to develop a software with the help of my cousin Vipin Bhardwaj, so that we have a good system,” said Ved Prakash.

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The SIUS-Ascor scoring system which connects all the electronic targets, gives complete details, and there is also live video to check the shooters physically, making the whole exercise transparent and lively. “Shooters know me for many years. I announced the competition through Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Even Jitu has said that he would join the competition in future,” observed Ved Prakash.

It is on the passionate and scientific work of such committed people that Indian shooting has built a strong foundation to challenge the world.