KOTHAMANGALAM: Sports Authority of India director general Jiji Thomson inaugurated a 10-metre indoor shooting range at Mar Athanasius College here on Wednesday.
Built at a cost of `82 lakh, the facility is said to be the first shooting range within an educational institution and currently has provisions to accommodate 12 shooters in 10 metre air rifle and air pistol. Later, it will be extended to 22 shooters.
Thomson appreciated the college authorities for opening up such a facility on their campus and extended all possible help to develop it further.
Taking this as a cue, former national shooting champion and coach Sunny Thomas, who was present at the function, listed out the areas he thought needed financial assistance.
“The range now has an electrically operated target; it has to be upgraded into an electronic system for more accurate reading and in league with international standards. There are a couple of fans inside the building; they will have to be replaced with air-conditioners to avoid the spread of lead poisoning while shooting,” he said. In a lighter vein, he urged the college authorities and students to get hold of Thomson and make good use of his promise.
Actor-director Major Ravi also lauded the college for coming forward to setting up the facility and assured them of whatever help he can provide them.
Later, Elizabeth Susan Koshy, the youngest member in the Commonwealth Games shooting squad from India, checked out the facility along with Thomson, Thomas and Major Ravi. LNCPE principal G Kishore, MA College Association secretary Winny Varghese and Principal Reena George were present.
The SAI director general said Dr Karni Singh Shooting Range in Tughlakabad, Delhi, was the best shooting range in India and the country needed such world-class facilities across its states to forge more world-class shooters.
He said the country aims to elevate itself to one among the top 10 sporting powers in the world by the Rio Olympics in 2016. “The strategy is simple. We are strong in five disciplines: shooting, archery, wrestling, boxing and weight-lifting. There are altogether 76 medals in all theses events at the Olympics and if India can manage to win 26 medals, with six golds, we can easily find a spot among the top 10 nations,” he said.