THIRUVANANTHAPURAM:The country’s best shooters, from Olympic medal winners Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore and Vijay Kumar to its latest shooting sensation Jitu Rai, have a common factor that binds them together. It was at the Indian Army’s Army Marksmanship Unit (AMU) located at Mhow — a cantonment in Madhya Pradesh — that these rough diamonds were polished into shining stars in the sport of shooting.
The AMU has been a steady conveyor belt of shooting talent in the country for a long time now and has contributed to two of the four Olympic medals. “The AMU provides us with a platform to serve as a soldier for the country as well as win medals for the country,” said Vijay Kumar.
“Shooting is traditionally the domain of the Army and it is our pride to nurture top shooters,” said Lalit Sharma, commanding officer and chief instructor of the AMU.
“The Army provides the best facility at AMU as well as paying the shooters to acquire the best weapons, ammunition and accessories required,” said Sharma.
The pistol shooters from the AMU who are representing Services at the 35th National Games include Vijay, Jitu, Gurpreet Singh, Gurpal Singh, Pemba Tamang and Om Prakash while the rifle contingent comprises Sushil Ghale, Chain Singh, Surendra Singh Rathore, Hariom Singh, Ashok Chavanke, Satender Singh and Raj Chaudhary — all having made a name for themselves in shooting. On an average, 20 Armymen from various regiments, who are new to shooting, are recruited to the facility through various tournaments held across the country and the Young Blood Championship.
“These people undergo training everyday except on Sundays. Training doesn’t necessarily include shooting practice, but also yoga, physical exercises and recreational activities,” said Lalit.
“The centre is on par with the US Army Marksmanship Unit. Even for top shooters there is no room for complacency at the AMU,” said Pemba, a Commonwealth Games gold medalist.
At AMU, an evaluation of all shooters is done every three months and the shooters are sent back home if they consistently perform below potential. Jitu Rai includes a long list of shooters who have had to face the music this way. Rai was sent back from the Unit for under-performing twice in his career.
“The facility is the best option available for a shooter in India to hone their skills. I have been lucky enough to be there and all credit goes to the AMU,” said Pemba.
AMU currently has four foreign coaches, including Ukraine’s Anatoly Podubbny and Russia’s Yury Lisichko, and 18 domestic coaches.
“We do not focus on any particular competition. The most important competition for these shooters are the ones they are competing in now. We always demand the best from them, be it in training or in actual events,” said Sharma.
25m centre fire pistol
Vijay Kumar (SER), 1166.0, Gold
Samresh Jung (HP), 1152.0, silver
Pemba Tamang (SER), 1150.0, bronze
50m Rifle Prone Men
Chain Singh Manhas (SER), 205.8, Gold
Samsher Singh (MP), 204.6, Silver
Joydeep Karmakar (WB) 183.1, bronze
Anirudh Singh, (UP), 26.0, gold
Anwer Sultan, (UP), 25.0, silver
Manavjit Sandhu (PUN), 25.0, bronze
50m rifle prone women
Elizabeth Susan Koshy (KER), 618.5, gold
Meena (HAR), 617.8, silver
Raj Chaudhary (SER), 616.6, bronze