Gurnihal Singh Garcha aims for smooth transition from junior to senior category

Nitin Sharma
Gurnihal Singh Garcha with his Asian Shooting Championships medals at Chandigarh. (Source: Gurmeet Singh)

Last week, in the qualification round of the junior men’s skeet event in the Asian Shooting Championships at Doha, Qatar, Ludhiana shooter 20-year-old Gurnihal Singh Garcha not only had to worry about his shooting but also the conditions.

With a dust storm disrupting the qualification round of the event, Garcha shot in windy conditions and finished third in qualification before claiming the silver medal in the final. The youngster shot a score of 54 in the final to claim the silver medal behind gold medallist Eduard Yechshenko. It was Garcha’s first medal in Asian Championship.

“It was perhaps my last Asian Championships as a junior and I am happy to win the silver medal. The conditions at the range were challenging as there was a sand storm during the qualification round apart from the winds. But my focus was to shoot according to my plan. I took some time to adjust but once I got my rhythm and technique going, it was easy for me to shoot in such conditions. There was some pressure in the final as my junior world ranking is three in the world and I wanted to win a medal in Doha. I had the confidence to shoot the same score again and this silver medal will boost my confidence a lot,” shared Garcha.

The youngster, whose father, 49-year-old Gurinder Singh Garcha owns a 25-acre farm at village Talwara near Ludhiana, started shooting in 2013 after his father took up the sport in 2010.

He would finish ninth in qualification in junior category in the National Shooting Championships in 2016 before he won the silver medal in the junior skeet event in the 2017 edition of the championships at Delhi. Last year, Garcha became the first Indian junior skeet shooter to win a medal in the ISSF World Championships when he won the bronze medal in the junior men’s skeet event in the ISSF World Championship at Changwon in Korea.

Then, he became the national junior skeet champion in national shooting championship at Jaipur and will now compete in the 63rd National Shooting Championships (Shot gun) to be held at Karni Singh Range, Delhi starting next week. In Doha, fellow Punjab shooter Angad Veer Singh Bajwa became the senior skeet champion apart from earning the 2020 Olympic quota for India and Garcha sees Bajwa as an inspiration.

“Angad has been an inspiration and to see him earn the Olympic quota for India at Doha motivates youngsters like us. Post the bronze medal in the world championships last year, I had been working on my equipment and made some changes under my coach Jitender Beniwal. With no range at Ludhiana, we train at Patiala or Delhi sometimes. Next week’s national championship is an important one for me as I will also aim for a good finish in the senior category. Since this is my last year in the junior category, I will also be competing in next year’s Khelo India Youth Games and would aim to end my junior career on a high. Making a smooth transition from junior to senior category will be the main aim for me ahead,” added Garcha.

Coach Jitinder Beniwal too rates Garcha high and believes that he can excel at the senior level too.

“I was expecting a gold medal from him but the silver meal is also good. Post the bronze medal in world championships, we made some changes. There were stock adjustments in his gun and that was the main reason for his low scores in the last one year. This medal will give him a lot of confidence and one of the main targets for him is to shoot well in senior category and earn a spot in the Indian senior team,” shared the coach.