Shooting in India is a traditional sport which dates back almost to the medieval period. In its initial period, shooting was considered as a royal game in India. Firearms were introduced in the country sometime in the 16th century by the invading Mughal armies and later by the British. Apart from war and military purposes, shooting in India was also used for hunting it developed as an organized sport in India, only in the 19th century. Shooting is the game of those who are blessed with the art of using different types of guns with speed and accuracy. It is essentially a game where the accuracy and control of a player over his pistol and rifles are tested. The shooter needs to aim different shots on a fixed target. The targets are kept at a distance of 10, 25 and 50 meters in men`s, women`s and mixed competitions.
Shooting as a Sport
Shooting in India got recognized as a sport with the establishment of National Rifle Association of India (NRAI) in 1951. It organises various shooting competitions in India under four disciplines: Rifle, pistol, shotgun and running target. The only difference between different rifle events is the distance and position of shooting.
The Indian shooters got international exposure only after they won the first individual silver medal in the Olympic Games. The famous Indian Shooter, Abhinav Bindra has brought a lot of glory to India by winning the first ever individual Olympic Gold medal in the 2008 Beijing Olympics. Some of the other legendary shooters of India include Gagan Narang, Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore
, Anjali Bhagat, Dr Karni Singh, Randhir Singh, Samresh Jung, Jaspal Rana etc.
Apart from the Olympic Games, the Indian Shooters have also got significant success in the other tournaments like Commonwealth Games, SAF Games, Asian Games etc. In the 1990 Commonwealth Games held in Auckland, New Zealand, Ashok Pandit won the first gold medal for India in the free pistol event. In 1998 Commonwealth games at Kuala Lumpur, India gave its best ever performance in shooting by winning seven medals, which was the all time highest by India. These include two gold medals by Jaspal Rana in centre fire pistol pairs with Ashok Pandit, one silver medal in air pistol pairs by Satendra Kumar and a gold medal by Manavjeet Singh Sidhu
and Mansher Singh in trap pairs event. The others were gold by Roopa Unnikrishnan in the sports rifle prone position and Bhanwar Dhaka added one more bronze in free pistol.
Awards for the sport of Shooting
Shooting in India has received lots of awards like Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna Award
, Dronacharya Awards
and Arjuna Award that was first inducted in 1961 by the Government of India. The ace shooter Karni Singh was the first winner of Arjuna Award in Shooting, in 1961. Some of the other Arjuna Awardees in Shooting include Krishna Das, Limba Ram, Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore, Deepali Deshpande, Vijay Kumar, Soma Dutta, Professor Sunny Thomas, Deepali A. Deshpande, Vijay Kumar etc.
With the increasing interest in shooting in India, budding shooters are now taking training under experienced coaches and the sport is fast gaining popularity and prominence.