Skeet is not popular but is in full flight now: Gurjoat Singh

CHANDIGARH: He started shooting at the tender age of 9, he received approval from his father, Colonel Manvinder Singh, to pursue him as a career at 18, and at 25, Gurjoat Singh Khangura joined his growing number of medals by winning the individual bronze in the clay pigeon shooting 63rd event recently concluded National Shooting Championship for shotgun events at the Dr. Karni Singh shooting range in Delhi.

"Shooting as a sport in India is excelling but clay pigeon shooting shooting is not that popular. Things are changing now, however. With Angad Vir Singh Bajwa and Mairaj Ahmad Khan cementing their Olympic quotas, this discipline is steadily getting better," said Khangura, who had also teamed up with Angad Vir Singh Bajwa and Karam Singh to win gold for Punjab.

I scored 123/125 in the qualifying round, my best personal brand. Shooting with players like Angad and Mairaj has helped me. I think I've also learned to deal with the pressure, said Khangura, who credits the national coach. Ennio Falco , gold medalist at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics, for the change.

The National Rifle Association of India and the Sports Authority of India have provided us with the best foreign coach. People like him have embarked on the journey we are on. Ennio is very, very passionate and we have really improved after he joined. If nowhere we arrive at the Olympic Games in clay pigeon shooting (Mairaj at Rio 2016) and we now have seven to eight professional players in the category," Khangura said.

Falco took me under his wings in 2017, and since then I have really resumed my game. Previously, he was a lonely traveler, he only participated in tournaments without any plan and execution, he said.

Apart from lacking popularity, clay pigeon shooting shooting is an expensive affair as well. While Khangura comes from a family able to help him, he has had to make do with mediocre equipment to quite an extent.

Shotgun shooting is an expensive sport. I am lucky that my father has supported me in my career, Khangura said. Shotgun prices start from around Rs 6 lakh. Therefore, it requires investment and we barely get sponsors.

The lack of infrastructure for sports training and shotgun tournaments is the other problem that Khangura faced within the Tricity. Many talented Tricity shooters have won several medals in national and international championships. Currently, all shooters have been practicing at the Patiala shooting range, privately owned by Raninder Singh , president, National Rifle Association of India (NRAI).

The need of the hour is to have a professional shotgun shooting range within Chandigarh to provide a driving range for shotgun sports and other shooting sports categories, Khangura said.

Khangura aims to win more medals internationally to be ready for the 2024 Paris Olympics.

I need to win medals internationally at a constant level. All athletes dream of becoming Olympians and, hopefully, in 2024 I can live it, he finished.

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