SHOOTING: Mansher in joint lead in men’s trap; Shreyasi pulls ahead in women’s section

World and Olympic champion Abhinav Bindra, shooting with a new rifle and equipment, could muster only a score of 591 in air rifle on the opening day of the Sahara 56th National shooting championship at the Dr. Karni Singh Range, Tughlakabad, here on Thursday.

“We can’t expect miracles. It takes time to get used to the new rifle and shooting clothes. But, this is the only time when I can change. It was decent, and if we look at it with the new rules applicable from next year, it was close to 624!,” said Bindra, quite keen on getting used to the new rules which will count decimal scores in qualification, from January.

Bindra had a series of 99, 100, 97, 100, 98 and 97. He said he was experimenting a bit to get used to the new rules and added that he would adopt the same approach in the first few events next year as well.

The London Games bronze medallist Gagan Narang, who opted to skip the championship owing to a knee injury, said he was planning to get into competitive mode soon. He assured that he would be shooting in international competitions under the new rules come January, and said he would be ready to fight for his place in the National squad for the World Cups.

With former Asian champion P.T. Raghunath on top along with Bindra on 591, Narang felt that the scores may not be high. With 192 shooters in the fray in the men’s event, the air rifle final would be held only on Saturday.

Aribam ahead

Among the juniors, Aribam Dicky Sharma of Army led with 589, and could have matched Bindra, but for a last card of 96.

In men’s trap, former Asian champion Mansher Singh led with a score of 48, along with Birendeep Sodhi and Anirudh Singh, after two rounds.

The president of the National Rifle Association of India (NRAI), Raninder Singh, who shot a perfect round of 25, followed the leaders one point behind along with Vishavdev Singh Sidhu.

Former World champion and reigning Asian champion Manavjit Singh Sandhu shot 46, following rounds of 23, to be on par with Zoravar Singh Sandhu and Kynan Chenai. Prithviraj Tondaiman, who had a poor start, could score only 44.

With two more rounds on Friday, followed by the last round and final on Saturday, the trap competition has a long way to go before reaching its climax. Among the women, former National champion Shreyasi Singh jumped into the lead, four points ahead of Varsha Varman, with a total of 44, following rounds of 21 and 23. Shagun Chowdhary, who won the silver in the recent Asian shotgun championship at Patiala, struggled with the stiff winds and returned rounds of 15 and 19 to be in the eighth spot.

The women’s final will take place after the third round of qualification on Friday.

Of course, Shagun can bounce back along with World Cup medallist Seema Tomar (35) as the third best score was just 35, shared by four shooters.

However, a good third round would be mandatory to keep the medal aspirations alive, as well as stay in contention for selection in the National squad.

Om Prakash in lead

In the 50-metre free pistol, Om Prakash of the Army led with 556 points, and was followed three points behind by P.N. Prakash of Karnataka, after 54 of the 119 shooters had finished their qualification round. Navy’s Omkar Singh shot 550, while Amanpreet Singh of ONGC had 548.

Samaresh Jung, Amit Kumar Pilaniya and Zakir Khan were some of the other prominent shooters yet to shoot their round.

In the 25-metre junior sports pistol, Akshay Jain of Punjab was on top with 285 points after the precision series, one point ahead of Shivraj Sase.

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