CHENNAI: Sports Authority of India (SAI) has opened Dr Karni Singh Shooting Range in New Delhi from Wednesday for elite shooters to start their preparations for the 2021 Olympics. However, not all from the 34-member core group announced by the National Rifle Association of India (NRAI) last month, could travel to the national capital and resume training. A few of them are training at shooting ranges closer to their homes and are being forced to undergo holding practice for months now in absence of ammunition.
Swapnil Kusale and Tejaswini Sawant, both 50m rifle 3P shooters, along with 25m pistol shooters Rahi Sarnobat and Abhidnya Patil are training in Kolhapur. Madhya Pradesh shooters including Aishwarya Pratap Singh and Sunidhi Chauhan (both 50m rifle 3P) along with Chinki Yadav (25m pistol) are practising at the State Shooting Academy in Bhopal. Apart from them, 50m rifle 3P shooter Gaayathri N is training in Coimbatore.
While the shooters from Madhya Pradesh are being taken care of by the state academy, those who are training on their own have run out of ammunition to start target practice. “Ever since I fetched my rifle from Pune in May, I have been doing holding practice as I don’t have ammunition to start target shooting,” Kusale told this daily.
The 25-year-old Maharashtra shooter travels to Kolhapur range every alternate day from his village Kambalwadi, which is around 50km from the city. “We cannot import ammunition at the moment. I have spoken to coach Deepali Deshpande in this regard and she has assured me that she will speak to the NRAI and SAI to get the issue resolved.” Kusale, however, informed that Sarnobat has started target practice as she isn’t facing the shortage.
Interestingly, the SAI, in its mail sent directly to the shooters intimating them the opening of the Dr Karni Singh Shooting Range, said that it will also provide necessary ammunition for the training. It also contacted the coaches informing them about the plan.“I have been in regular touch with the shooters,” said Deshpande. “A few of them told me about the shortage and I have communicated the same to SAI and Target Olympic Podium Scheme (TOPS) officials, who in turn were considerate. Transporting ammunition will not be an issue as it can be done without any hassle even during the lockdown. I am hopeful the shooters will soon receive the ammunition to start target practice.”
Deshpande felt that the national camp can begin by the middle of September after considering the situation. “The SAI and (TOPS) officials contacted us seeking our views on the resumption of training. Given the situation, it’s not possible for all the shooters to travel to Delhi and resume training. A few are already training at shooting ranges near to their homes. It will be better if they can continue training there, maybe, till the next month. A camp can be started in mid-September after assessing the situation,” added the coach.