Shotgun Nationals: Mairaj shares lead on opening day

There was crowded company for Mairaj, as Baba Bedi, Amrinder Singh Cheema, Arjun Singh Mann, Mohd. Hamza Sheikh and Ayush Rudraraju also shot 48. The last three shooters also led the junior field.

Mairaj Ahmed Khan won a bronze in the Asian Shotgun championship recently.   -  Special Arrangement

Olympian and World Cup silver medallist Mairaj Ahmad Khan shot identical rounds of 24 to lead on 48 after two rounds of men’s skeet in the 60th National shotgun championship at the JDA Range here on Monday.

There was crowded company for Mairaj, as Baba Bedi, Amrinder Singh Cheema, Arjun Singh Mann, Mohd. Hamza Sheikh and Ayush Rudraraju also shot 48. The last three shooters also led the junior field.

Ayush Rudraraju started the best among the six leaders, with a perfect round of 25, but had 23 in the second round. Sheeraz Sheikh, who has shot 121 in the recent Asian Shotgun championship in Abu Dhabi, was one point behind the leading pack with 47, following rounds of 23 and 24.

Former Asian champion Man Singh also had the same scoring pattern as Sheeraz. Incidentally, both were in the same squad, in an overall field of 130 shooters.

Defending champion, the young Anantjeet Singh Naruka did not have a great start and had rounds of 23 and 22, the same as Angad Vir Singh Bajwa and the former national champion Parampal Singh Guron.

The competition will continue for two more days, with three more rounds of qualification, followed by the knock-out phase featuring the top six.

‘’After so much this season, it is tough to shoot the national championship which has so many shooters’’, said Mairaj.

The country’s best skeet shooter, who had won a bronze in the Asian Shotgun championship after qualifying with a score of 120 recently,

Mairaj had helped in tuning the speed of the birds to stipulated norms, after the shooters found the birds flying too quick from one house at the second range, on the day of official practice.

‘’The problem is not just for me. It is for everyone. We were able to set it right yesterday, and it was all perfect today’’, said Mairaj.