‘Costs INR 7 lakhs to assemble a shotgun’ | #schoolshooting

Among the 15 Indian shooters who have qualified for the Tokyo Olympics, only two compete in skeet.

Even though shooting has brought in rich medal haul for India at multi-sport events, skeet shooting hasn’t quite taken off in the country.

Among the 15 Indian shooters who have qualified for the Tokyo Olympics, only two compete in skeet.

Angad Bajwa, 25, is one of them and is seen as the future of skeet shooting in India. He started taking the discipline seriously only in 2015, but has made rapid progress in the last five years.

Bajwa took to pistol shooting during his boarding-school days, mainly as a hobby. He later had the choice of turning it into a career, after doing reasonably well in it or pursuing an undergraduate degree in London.

And Bajwa, with the support of his father, chose the former.

Angad Bajwa training at a private range

“I was in a boarding school and did pistol shooting for the sake of it, that’s it,” Bajwa told the Olympic Channel.

“I didn’t like it much initially. It began as a hobby. Then once I qualified, got my gun, got to know that it’s a part of the Olympics, things changed.

“I thought this is my goal and I’m going to give it my best shot. I started shooting good scores made into the junior team. Education was a big thing: I got through a University in London. I did my first year there. Once I broke one of the national records there, I also thought I wanted to do this. This is my goal. It was tough to figure out if you want to do shooting or studies both. It can’t be done. So it was a very difficult decision and my dad supported me at that time.

“So I dropped out of UGC (undergraduate course) and came back to India. Around 2015-16, I started competing seriously, and it has paid off.”

Unlike pistol or air rifle, skeet shooting hasn’t quite attracted a lot of young talent in India. It is still not accessible to many across the country.

Bajwa, through his experience, says one of the reasons could be the expense involved.

It costs around Rs. 7 lakh just to assemble a shotgun. Not only that, a minimum of Rs. 15,000 is required for ammunition, and it becomes difficult for the shooters who are not a part of the core team to procure it.

“The biggest thing is that it’s expensive.” – Angad Bajwa

“Be it any sport, if you want to be the best you have to spend money. I’m very lucky to have the support of OGQ (Olympic Gold Quest) and now TOPS (Target Olympic Podium Scheme). We need corporates coming in and helping more athletes.

“Rifles, pistols are a bit cheaper so people come into it.

“It costs around Rs. 4-5 lakhs. Then of course if you need to get the stock made, it’s like Rs. 1-2 lakhs depending upon the model. It’s a one-time spend. After that you need government support. It helps tremendously if you have that.

“Second is the availability of ammunition, which might go up to a minimum of Rs. 15,000 per year. That becomes the problem. If you’re not a part of the team you don’t get enough ammunition.”

Bajwa qualified for the Tokyo Olympics with a stunning performance at the Asian Championship in Doha 2019. Bajwa defeated compatriot Mairaj Ahmad Khan, who will also represent India at the Tokyo Games, in a shoot-off to clinch gold.

He also shot a perfect 60 out of 60 at the 8th Asian Shotgun Championship that helped him bag a gold medal with a world record score.

Bajwa, India’s first continental skeet gold medallist, is keen to train in Italy or Cyprus ahead of the Tokyo Olympics. But he will not be allowed to avail those facilities as the National Rifle Association of India has put a no-fly policy in place because of the pandemic, which forbids him from training abroad.

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