When the Indian contingent reached in Rio de Janeiro for the ISSF World Cup, more than being pleased to get acquainted with the shooting range that would be used for the Olympics in August, most shooters were taken aback. Not just due to the change in lighting arrangements for the targets but even loud music was blurting in the Samba capital all through the competition.
For a sport like shooting where athletes are used to pin-drop silence in the shooting range, this was a big shock. Thanks to the recent amendments by the sport’s governing body to make the sport more spectator-friendly, loud music is being played at all major shooting competitions. The scene will be the same come Olympics.
While it has emerged as a major detraction for most shooters, some of the shooters aren’t entirely happy with the timing of rule changes. “I was aware about the rule changes but I didn’t know they would implement it from the World Cup itself. I thought the rules would change after the Olympics because normally the rule changes come into effect only after the Olympics. They don’t really implement it at such a short notice ahead of a big event,” Prakash Nanjappa, who has qualified for the 50m pistol event, told Sportstar on Monday.
While Nanjappa said he didn’t realise about the music till he “sat in the gallery and watched others play”, air rifle shooter Ayonika Paul has no qualms about the loudspeakers bursting popular numbers. “I have been training with the music on because it’s too much of silence for in the shooting range anyway. Ever since my first day at shooting, because we used to have a gym in the very next room, we were used to loud music every day. And since then, I have been training with the music on anyway. It’s not for the rules but I have been training just like that because I prefer it that way,” Paul said.
Besides music, the shooters are also trying to get used to changes in lighting arrangements for the targets. While Nanjappa felt lighting has got a little bit “dull in the 10m events”, Paul thought it was “much better in the Rio World Cup than the last two years”. Differences aside, the shooters have little time to get adept at new targets, which aren’t easily accessible in India.
“We have been trying our best to help the shooters get acquainted with the recent rule changes. We have been trying to get them the new targets so that they will be prepared for the Olympics when they land in Rio,” said Viren Rasquinha, chief executive officer of Olympic Gold Quest, the organisation that supports most of the top Olympians from India.
Gurpreet Singh, who will feature in the 10m and 25m rapid fire events in Rio, summed it up. “The rules are the same for everyone so it doesn’t really matter. The fortnight that we will spend in Rio ahead of Olympics will be important in getting used to it.”