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Making a mark

Better performances by our shooters place the State in an enviable position on the nation's shooting map


THE SPORTS Authority of Andhra Pradesh (SAAP) shooting range, nestled in the picturesque University of Hyderabad campus, is fast becoming a happy hunting ground for marksmen from the twin cities and Andhra Pradesh. The ongoing Sardar Sajjan Singh Sethi Memorial Masters shooting championships at the very same venue should be an ideal platform for them to showcase their growing proficiency in the sport.

Just as Rome wasn't built in a day, the run-up to the State's enviable position on the nation's shooting map came steadily and not necessarily slowly. The pioneer in the field was Mansher Singh, Arjuna Awardee and Olympian. In the public domain, however, the first notable explosion of talent was registered during the Afro-Asian Games, where Hyderabad's own Gagan Narang struck gold.

While many in the twin cities look up to Narang, an Indian Airlines assistant manager, as the harbinger of Hyderabad's growing shooting prowess, the emergence of talent in his wake is akin to saplings sprouting in the shade of a strapping tree. Most prominent of these are junior national champion Pooja Reddy, skeet specialist Amit Sanghi and 11-year-old Asher Noria in double trap. Kaynan Chenai (trap) and the Dehradun-based Jahangir Chinoy come to mind too as promising prospects.

A quick look at the events held in the last six months would be worthwhile to assess the progress. The State championships at the SAAP range in June attracted 160 participants that included 111 men, 12 women, 28 junior (under 18 years) boys and nine girls. In the 64 matches held, 58 shooters surpassed previous records, while as many as 25 new milestones were set.

The big bore championships in the .308, 30.06, 8 mm and .302 rifle categories at the Lakeview military range in Bolarum had 20 policemen and 22 civilians in the fray, with Gusti Noria's prone peep sight record easily being the highlight. Largely due to the initiative taken by the Rifle Association of Andhra Pradesh (RAAP), Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Kerala and host A.P. took part in the first South zone championships in October, where Amit Sanghi's gold medal winning effort in skeet and Mansher Singh's 140/150 in the individual trap events stood out. Another crack shot who caught the eye was Darius Chenai, who emerged fifth in the country in trap.

Sanghi, as secretary general of the RAAP, shared the services and expertise of his personal coach Wong Giha of Peru, a Barcelona Olympics silver medallist in skeet, with compatriots Gusti Noria, Rajgopal Reddy, Darius Chenai and Asher Noria among others during a two-month camp conducted in October/November. He was all praise for the far-sighted and unflinching support for the sport shown by SAAP vice-chairperson and managing director Sumita Dawra and A.S.V. Prasad, technical advisor to the A.P. Government.

With the sheer frequency of competitions and better performances by marksmen from the State, Sanghi envisages Hyderabad as the shooting hub of the nation in the not-too-distant future.

A. JOSEPH ANTONY

Photo: R.V. Moorthy

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