On October 23, the NRAI put up a notice on its website that they have proposed to Sports Authority of India (SAI) the dates of October 5 to November 8 (pistol/rifle) to hold a national camp of senior squad at the Dr Karni Singh Shooting Range (DKSSR) in Delhi. The camp for shotgun shooters has been planned from October 20 to 30.
The news has largely been welcomed by shooters, who are now waiting to know further details, as NRAI’s earlier attempts to conduct a camp from August 1 had to be postponed after some shooters expressed reservations over the risk of travelling to Delhi and staying there. The national capital has been among one of the worst-hit by the Covid-19 pandemic.
Close to two months from that day, the situation related to the number of daily positive cases in Delhi hasn’t improved, though the medical fraternity and the public are now a little more aware of what to do to ward off the threat that the coronavirus poses.
However, the shooters, especially those from outside Delhi, have their reservations and await details related to travel and accommodation before making a decision. Ahead of postponing the camp from August 1, the NRAI had made it mandatory for the shooters to be in attendance.
However, some of the senior squad players, like the veteran rifle shooter Sanjeev Rajput and pistol ace Anish Bhanwala, have already been practising at the DKSSR in Delhi since SAI re-opened it back in July.
Competition fuels improvement! Here’s to a day when we can go back to international tournaments! #WeekendMotivation https://t.co/vPjfrMRO6u
— Sanjeev Rajput OLY (@sanjeevrajput1) 1600610843000
Rajput lives in nearby Faridabad, while Bhanwala has moved with his parents from Karnal to rent a house near the range in order to train for his 25m Rapid Fire event.
“I got to know from Facebook and then I saw links to a few news stories,” Rajput told TimesofIndia.com about the NRAI’s proposal for a national camp from October 5. “It’s a good decision, I will say. We have been waiting for this for a long time.”
Rajput, a gold medallist at the 2011 Changwon World Cup and the 2018 Commonwealth Games, bagged an Olympic quota for India in the 50m Rifle 3 Positions event with a silver medal at the World Cup in Rio de Janeiro last year. India so far has 15 quota places for the Tokyo Olympics and will be sending its largest ever shooting contingent to the rescheduled Games in July-August next year.
The veteran shooter also suggested some changes that may need to be made at the range related to the safety of more than 80 shooters who are expected to join the camp once it gets SAI’s approval.
“For separation (between firing points) at the 10m range, they should hang something like a plastic sheet or anything similar. Need to maintain distance, timings should be plus-minus…You cannot share rooms (at the lodging facility) as well, so everybody will need a separate room.” Rajput told TimesofIndia.com.
Last time, before postponing the camp, the NRAI had decided to accommodate the shooters at the nearby Manav Rachna University hostel. For the camp proposed now, those details are not yet known.
Bhanwala, who has a bright chance of bagging a ranking-based Olympic quota in the 25m Rapid Fire event, has been practising at DKSSR for almost five hours daily and expects that duration to be cut short once time slots are assigned during the camp.
It was a pleasure meeting Hon. Sports Minister Kiren Rijiju Sir Today. We had a good interaction about our Shooting… https://t.co/hqygnvJe9i
— Anish Bhanwala (@anish__bhanwala) 1599659861000
“I am going to the range regularly. At present, I train from 9 am to 1:30 pm. Maybe when the camp begins, we will be given time-slots to train in,” he said talking to Timesofindia.com.
Bhanwala, who first made headlines with his gold at the 2018 Commonwealth Games, also talked about the benefits of training at a national camp as opposed to training alone.
“One benefit is that we will get competition (among campers) during training, the coaches will be there. It’s been three months that I have been training alone (in the 25m range). Manu (Bhaker) comes sometimes for 25m, otherwise she trains at the 10m range,” said Anish, who was then quick to add a word of caution.
“The other point is that with so many shooters coming, safety could be an issue…Personally (at present), I have no issues. Thrice we have to sanitize ourselves — at the main gate and before entering the armoury and the 25m range. Before we come to the range, one person (staff) properly sanitizes all the firing points, whether in use or not. When our shift ends, the points are sanitized again before the Khelo India shooters begin their training,” Anish added.
World No. 1 in women’s 10m Air Rifle, Elavanil Valarivan is currently taking her exams with one eye on the camp and awaiting further instructions from NRAI.
Congratulations @realmanubhaker & @SChaudhary2002 on being conferred the #ArjunaAward 😀🤩😍#NationalSportsDay… https://t.co/WFDHZSDxH3
— Elavenil Valarivan (@elavalarivan) 1598681807000
“Right now I am giving my exams in Ahmedabad…we are just waiting for further information (from NRAI),” she told Timesofindia.com.
While the champion shooter waits to get a heads-up from the federation, she sounded a little worried about travelling to Delhi.
“Travel has started, people have been travelling, but I don’t know how for me personally (it will be), such a long flight (from Ahmedabad) and then staying there for a month and then, I think, there will be a quarantine period that we will have to go through once we land in Delhi,” said Elavenil.
“I have no clue about that because (further) information is awaited.”
The latest from the NRAI office is that they are yet to hear from SAI about their proposal.
“It (the approval) may come today (September 28). We are still waiting for that,” NRAI secretary Rajiv Bhatia told Timesofindia.com.