While most Amdavadis must have cheered for Gagan Narang and Vijay Kumar on the Olympic stage, hardly anyone must know the ground realities of its own ‘shooting’ stars.
The Rifle Club is the only place in the city where budding shooters can train. It is a well-equipped place, but it has one vital ingredient missing—a coach. In fact, it’s never had one in the 74 years of its existence.
General secretary of Ahmedabad Military Rifle and Training Association (AMRTA), Narendra Oza, says they cannot afford one. “A coach asks for Rs500 for three hours of training, while we get only Rs 20,000 grant from the state government per year.
Also, coaches lack dedication and commitment,” says Oza. He says six to seven former national champions come to the club on a regular basis and guide students free of cost.
Rina Green, a student, who trains regularly at the Rifle Club, says she opted for special training where a coach trained a team of four for 15 days. However, she says there is no permanent instructor to teach students on a daily basis.
Another shooting buff, Harshal Patel, says he took up the sport seven years ago. Despite the lack of instructors at the Rifle Club, Harshal has managed to keep up his enthusiasm because his father, a national-level champion, trains him.
“Players make it big on their own steam. Dirty politics at the state-level is leading to more and more shooters giving up at the initial stage,” says Manu Naik, adding his own physically challenged son was a former national champion, but he had to face a lot of ridicule.
Regulatory hurdles in importing equipment and arms as well as the fact that it is an expensive sport to pursue at the competitive level are other deterrents for youngsters. “There is lack of individual training. One rifle is used by four students at the club,” says Naik.