The Sports Authority of India (SAI) has warned shooters training at the National Centre of Excellence (NCOE) and those under the come-and-play scheme at the Karni Singh range here to not use air cylinders more than 10 years old, failing which strict action could be taken against them.
A national-level shooter partially lost his left thumb when the 10m air pistol cylinder he was filling with compressed air exploded at a private range in Greenfield, Faridabad on December 2.
Pushpender Kumar, a corporal with the Indian Air Force, was training at the shooting range for the National Championships when he suffered severe damage to his left thumb, which required immediate hospitalisation.
A national coach had told PTI on condition of anonymity on December 4 that while Pushpender was filling compressed air into the pistol cylinder from the main cylinder, the incident happened.
Air pistols and air rifles have a sleek detachable gas cylinder attached just below the barrel. When the shooter presses the trigger, the compressed gas in the cylinder is released, which hits a hammer inside the air gun, ejecting the lead pellet.
The air pistol’s cylinder develops low pressure after a certain number of shots and has to be refilled with the help of a portable cylinder, which looks like a scuba-diving cylinder.
Due to wear and tear, air pistol cylinders have to be replaced after a certain period of time and the gun manufacturers usually do it for free after 10 years, or if there are any manufacturing issues the entire batch could also be recalled.
An advisory issued by the SAI administrator at Karni Singh ranges said, “In reference to the incident occurred on November 2 (December 2) at a private range in Delhi-NCR, the advisory is issued to all athletes (NCOE, national campers and come-and-play) that anyone who owns faulty... air pistol should get their air pressure cylinder replaced, until then athletes would not be entertained at Karni Singh range.
“Apart from that any athlete carrying air cylinder more than 10 years old will not be allowed to train at Karni range.” Athletes found training with defective cylinders, or those that are more than 10 years old, risk a “review of their stay at the National Centre of Excellence” while come-and-play shooters could lose their membership cards.
A top former shooter said on condition of anonymity that air pistol and air rifle shooters carry refilling cylinders in their vehicles to the Karni Singh range and top up their pistols and rifle cylinders, posing a big threat to everyone.
“They are not just risking their own lives by carrying big refilling cylinders in cars but also the lives of others. What if the cylinder explodes inside the vehicle. You can’t imagine what compressed air can do when the outside temperature touches 45 degrees centigrade. The cylinder can explode like a bomb,” he said.
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