The foundation of India’s success in the next Olympic cycle would be laid in the 56th National shooting championship which begins at the Dr. Karni Singh Range, Tughlakabad, on Thursday.
With a clear selection policy that will only look at consistency and current form, reputation or past success may not fetch a place in the national squad anymore. Thus, everyone from world and Olympic champion Abhinav Bindra, Athens silver medallist Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore, the recent Olympic medal winners in London, Vijay Kumar and Gagan Narang, apart from a few other established shooters like world champion Manavjit Singh Sandhu, Asian Games gold medallist Ronjan Sodhi and the women shooters, spearheaded by the evergreen Anjali Bhagwat, will all be on the starting blocks.
“For me, the game will begin next year with the new rules, as it changes shooting dramatically. I am just testing the new equipment and rifle at the Nationals,” said Bindra on the eve of the championship, which will begin with men’s air rifle and free pistol apart from the trap event for men and women.
As usual, it will be a great opportunity for the youngsters and other potential champions to showcase the growing standard of the sport in the country by shooting better than the established stars.
It may be a bit demanding for someone like Manavjit, who recently wound up the international season by winning the gold in the Asian shotgun championship at Patiala, to prevail in a classy field.
But, the tough lad would be eager to get it right and eventually search for that elusive success in his fourth Olympics in Rio 2016.
Unlike rifle and pistol, which will have a fresh selection policy, shotgun will continue with its earlier format. Of course, it would be important for the likes of double trap marksman Ronjan Sodhi and woman trap shooter Shagun Chowdhary, who finished fourth in the last world championship, to have a good start so that they do not have to lose sleep about their inclusion in the ensuing World Cups. Already the standard has gone up in air rifle, and the competition is expected to be quite strong in the 50m free pistol as well. Both these events will be spread over three days owing to the high number of entries.
The administrator of the range, Manmeet Singh Goindi, said the range had 70 firing points in the 10-metre range, 60 in the 50-metre range and 40 in the 25-metre range.
“For shotgun, the request was for four ranges, but all six are functional,” said Goindi.
Overall, it should be a festival of shooting over the next 11 days here.