Pandit denounces awarding of wild cards at Nationals

Ashok Pandit, Director of Competition for the National Shooting Championship, denounced the awarding of wild cards to around 600 shooters who have not met with Minimum Qualifying Score and by paying a deposit of Rs. 5,000.

Ashok Pandit said the practice "made a mockery of our own competitions".   -  G. Viswanath

While the shooting sport fraternity is excited at the record number of entries (over 4500) received for the 60th National Shooting Championship here, the Director of the Competition, Ashok Pandit, pointed out the flip side of the sudden development and even went to the extent of calling it an “absolute nuisance”.

The 1985 Arjuna Award winner, Pandit referred to National Rifle Association of India (NRAI) awarding wild cards to around 600 shooters who have not met with Minimum Qualifying Score (MQS) and by paying a deposit of Rs. 5,000.

Generally, it’s assumed that shooters advance to the nationals after achieving the MQS either at the four zonal qualifying or the G. V. Mavlankar shooting championship.

Quite peeved at the way the schedule has gone haywire here, Pandit said: “We are making a mockery of our own competitions. The person who goes to the zonal qualifying and the Mavlankar event will feel stupid. They will now say, why should they go to the zonal qualifying or the Mavlankar competition and spend Rs. 20,000 or Rs. 30,000 when you just pay a deposit of Rs. 5000 and take a wild card.

“This is the first time we have taken a deposit of Rs. 5,000 (refundable should they achieve the MQS) from the wild card entrants. My personal opinion is that there should be absolutely no wild card. It’s a ridiculous thing. But some in the governing body feel some people need to be obliged.”

‘Unmanageable’

The NRAI and Pandit are trying to find a way out of this despicable practice of gaining wild card entries.

“The governing body will have to accept it; it has become unmanageable. Look, I am sitting in Mumbai, and Delhi is full of VIPs, politicians and bureaucrats. The President (of NRAI) is under immense pressure, he has to oblige. If he doesn’t oblige then you face a lot of problems and hurdles in your goal to promote the sport.

“We have to make some kind of rigid norms and stick to it. We are planning to start an elimination trial, so that the top shooters, say the top 25, 30 or 50, need not wait so long at the nationals. The idea is to start the trial for shooters who do not have the MQS to show. Suppose there are 200 shooters in a particular event, we won’t call the top 50; instead run the trial for 150 shooters. And the top 50 from the trial would compete with the top 50 identified from the 200 shooters. So this way, the national championship can be shortened. The top 50 can be easily identified. I am going to propose this at the next governing body meeting. Of course, it has to be first passed by the Technical Committee.”

Pandit further said: “A team is always of three shooters. But we allow more than three shooters from each State, provided they have achieved the MQS. So unless a shooter achieves the MQS, he or she cannot take part in the Nationals. But there are many shooters who miss the MQS target score by a few points. And so we relax.

“Now it’s becoming very difficult to control such a large number of entries. There is another way out, by increasing the MQS by 5 or 10 points and get the number of entries that we can easily manage at the Nationals. But by positioning an elimination trial we are giving an additional chance to the shooters to prove themselves.”

‘Cannot oblige everybody’

The zonal qualifying and the Mavlankar competition was meant to filter the quality shooters from the rest.

“I have fought with my colleagues in the governing body on this. In the Centre Fire Pistol event (CFP), there are 150 with MQS and 65 wild cards. They believe by fluke they can achieve the MQS. It’s not possible. They bring so much pressure from all sides, obtain the wild card and they come here and become a nuisance... a big nuisance. There are some governing body members who like to favour (people) high in politics and in the bureaucracy; they actually help the sport. So we need to oblige them. But the numbers should be few, not many. You cannot oblige everybody.”