Shooting Nationals: Technical glitches overshadow performances

The electronic targets at the range have been refurbished at a considerable cost of about Rs 7.5 crore rupees, but have drawn criticism by some of the shooters who had to grapple with the issues of good shots registering bad scores.

The Dr Karni Singh Shooting Range in New Delhi will host the Asian leg of the Olympic qualifying event next month.   -  Sandeep_Saxena

With two of the ranges occupied with pre-event training in 10-metre air rifle and 50-metre rifle, the focus was on the picturesque range itself in the 59th National shooting championship at the Dr. Karni Singh Range, Tughlakabad, on Wednesday.

With the Asian Olympic qualifying event, offering 35 quota places for the Rio Games, scheduled to be held here from January 25, there is a certain pessimism as much as urgency to ensure top class functionality.

The electronic targets that have been refurbished at a considerable cost of about Rs 7.5 crore rupees, have been criticised by some of the shooters who had to grapple with the issues of good shots registering bad scores.

The administrator of the range, Shiv Dutt Bakshi, assured that experts would calibrate the machines. With the North Zone championship and a Sportzcraft event, featuring thousands of shooters, held at the range after the Asian Air Gun Championship in September, the targets have literally taken a toll and allowed little time for tuning.

However, in a remarkable initiative, the electronic targets of Sius Ascor, which have an aluminium front, have got a protective cover in polycarbonate and bullet-proof steel to ensure their longevity and avoid damage even if there were poor shots from beginners.

On a more positive note, the Armoury has been cleaned off years of junk, in terms of millions of empty cartridges and brass cases, even though a lot more still need to be cleared. The teams for the international event will have enough space to keep their equipment. At present, the Indian shooters do not have much space to store their equipment at the range.

The electrical equipments, bulbs, uninterrupted power supply etc. were being inspected in batches. The toilets were also being cleaned and made functional.

The administrator, who had taken charge in April this year, stressed that it was important to have an “annual maintenance contract” for the electronic targets, which surprisingly has not been practised since the Commonwealth Games in 2010.

With the hosts set to provide free hospitality and entry for the forthcoming international event, it should be a memorable experience for the aspirants aiming to book their berth for Rio. Whether the Indian shooters would get the home advantage has to be seen, considering the mammoth tuning required ensuring world standards in terms of accuracy of the targets.

Meanwhile, in the 25-metre range which alone had competition in standard pistol, a non-Olympic event, Olympic quota winner Gurpreet Sigh led with a score of 573. He was followed by Harpreet Singh (571), Mahaveer Singh (571), Yogesh Singh (571), Neeraj Kumar (567), Samaresh Jung (565), Ronak Pandit (563), Amit Kumar Pilaniya (563), Omkar singh (563) and Olympic silver medallist Vijay Kumar (559) who won silver in air pistol, but failed to make the rapid fire pistol event.

Among the juniors Achal Pratap Grewal led with 562 ahead of Shivam Shukla (560) and Arjun Das (558). The competition will continue on Thursday for the rest of the shooters and there will be no final, like in the case of centre fire pistol.