shooters-but-inco.jpg” width=”600″ height=”330″ />Shooting in India goes back to the establishment of the National Rifle Association of India (NRAI) in 1951. Shooting has been categorised into four major segments which include rifle, pistol, shotgun and running target. The difference between these segments of shooting is the distance and the position of shooting for the players. The country has been very fortunate to have produced in the recent past several world class shooters who have made the country proud with their performances at the international level. Indian shooting as a sport got prominence after Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore won the first individual silver medal for India at the Athens Olympics in 2004. Before this, shooting in India was primarily confined to the domestic level as the shooters could not make an impact at the international level.
Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore had also won the gold medal at the Commonwealth Games held at Manchester in 2002. He was awarded the Arjuna Award and the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna Award for his performances. Abhinav Bindra became the first Indian to win an individual old medal at the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games. He too was awarded the Arjuna Award and the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna award for his excellence in the sport. Anjali Mandar Bhagwat became the first Indian women shooter to become a finalist at the 2000 Sydney Olympics. She has 12 gold medals and 4 silver medals to her credit at the Commonwealth Games. She was also awarded the Arjuna Award and the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna Award. Jaspal Rana has also been an outstanding shooter for the country and has won many accolades.
There are a good bunch of promising shooters currently as well. Vijay Kumar won the silver medal at the 2012 London Olympics. Gagan Narang won the bronze medal at the 2012 London Olympics. Both these shooters made the nation proud once again with their brilliant performances. Manavjit Singh Sandhu has also come into prominence with his brilliant performances at the domestic level; however he could make an impact at the Olympics. Mansher Singh, Ronjan Sodhi and Joydeep Karmakar are some other names who have raised expectations amongst Indian fans and are expected to make the country proud with their performances in the future at the international level.
So far, good. But to delve a little deeper, why is it that Indian shooters seem to show bursts of brilliance but then cannot sustain their performances? Abhinav Bindra, for example, after creating history, seems to have faded away. Most shooters have been seen to register a sharp drop in their performances after a period of time. Their span of duration in shooting at the highest levels is quite small which is a major issue for concern. Players like Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore were out of the scene for a long time till he won the gold medal at the recently concluded 56th Shooting National Championship. It is also in the news that he is planning to retire from the game which is not very heartening for his fans. Abhinav Bindra has been out of sorts after his brilliant performance at the Beijing Olympics — he could not even qualify for the finals at theLondon Olympics. Anjali Mandar Bhagwat too has been found to be out of form and it was also disheartening to see that none of the female shooters made it to the finals at the London Olympics. What is the reason behind this? Is it the lack of concentration in the players that takes a toll on them or is it the lack of motivation that does not allow them to sustain their zeal and passion for a longer duration? Or is it lack of the facilities they desire or the kind of coaching they would prefer? There are excellent shooters in the country and high expectations are placed on them to perform consistently at the international level. Thus it is very important for the shooters and the concerned Association to look into the matter with care and deeper concern and ensure that the shooters sustain and enhance their performances instead of slipping into the shadows so fast.