THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Termite-infested wooden mounts, damaged outdoor targets, wiring for electronic targets in disarray, a deteriorated shooting range. Tikait Umrao Shooting Range in Hotwar Stadium at Ranchi signals a warning to the organisers of the 35th National Games. The shooting range, a world-class facility put together during the 34th National Games, has been lying unused and therefore, getting deteriorated.
The newly-constructed shooting range at Vattiyoorkavu is at par with several international ranges, according to experts. However, if left abandoned, it won’t be long before the plight of the Ranchi range gets repeated.
Sius, the producer of the electronic scoring system at the shooting range, offers a year’s warranty against workmanship defects. This would not cover the damage of the electronic targets due to erratic aiming. The reason why, a training programme for amateur shooters will not ensure that the shooting range remains in use. The Central Polytechnic Campus which houses the shooting range does not have the technical expertise to run a shooting range of such standards. Sunny Thomas, National Games Director of Competition (Shooting), said that for the proper upkeep of the facility, the government will have to conduct tournaments and championships for professionals.
“To begin with, I have taken the initiative to conduct the 15th Kumar Surendra Singh Memorial Shooting Championship at the facility from February 10 to 17 under the auspices of the National Rifle Association of India. From February 18 to 25, two national selection trials would be conducted. From then on, the government will have to chart out a plan to conduct professional tournaments here,” Sunny Thomas said.
In addition, the government needs to ensure that someone is trained to operate the ranking and scoring system. At present, it is done by two professionals from Sius, the manufacturer, who has come all the way from Switzerland. “The government is devising a legacy plan for the shooting range which ensures optimum use of the shooting range and its equipment. Some of the targets will be earmarked so that amateur shooters can practice. We are estimating the maintenance cost to run up to a few lakhs per month,” S Gopinath, Additional Director General, Operations, National Games, said.