New Delhi, Mar 22 (PTI) With the emergence of young talent, shotgun shooting in India is set for a turnaround having endured a barren run in the past few years, feels national coach Mansher Singh.
Often credited with bringing shooting into focus in the country with double trap marksman Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore's first individual Olympics silver for India at the 2004 Games, shotgun seemed to have lost its way even as the rifle and pistol shooters have risen up the ranks.
However, Mansher feels a bright future awaits the discipline. A reflection of it is in Angad Vir Singh Bajwa and Mairaj Ahmad Khan, the two Tokyo Olympics quota-holders in men's skeet.
'I think the road ahead for shotgun is very good, especially with the influx of juniors,' Mansher said after one of his wards won India's first-ever ISSF World Cup medal here on Sunday.
Less than two years ago, four-time Olympian Mansher was the first to acknowledge that the discipline was going through a crisis of sorts, primarily due to a lack of depth compared to pistol and rifle.
Despite it being a spectator-friendly discipline, shotgun struggled in India due to poor infrastructure, non-availability of equipment and high cost involved in training.
But, going by the performance of the skeet shooters in the ongoing World Cup in the national capital, things might change for good.
Giving him hope is young Ganemat Sekhon's bronze and little-known Karttiki Singh Shaktawat's impressive fourth-place finish in the women's skeet event here on Sunday evening.
'Before the final we had a long talk, was just basically easing her (Sekhon) tension, keeping her relaxed knowing that the build-up to the final can lead you to get a little tense in the situation.
'We don't shoot many finals with people at the back watching. So shooting tends to be a very lonely sport when you are training and even when competing sometimes.
'The main thing was to get them ready to deal with the exposure of people watching them, clapping during the final which could upset the rhythm,' Mansher, an Asian Games and Commonwealth Games medallist said.
He adopts different, sometimes interesting, ways to boost his young shooters' morale.
'My message to her (Sekhon) was be like a performing artist in a drama, on a beautiful prop and perform to the best of your ability.
'And people will like you for what your performance is, you generate positivity among the crowd which will then reflect and translate into you and then your shooting will also benefit. So the process is in the mind,' Mansher said.
Mansher was also full of praise for the 19-year-old Shaktawat.
'She has done a great job because she came into the senior team for the first time, she shot in Cairo (World Cup last month) under very tough conditions and came to Delhi at her home range and shot very well.
'She started very well the first two series, there were lot of plus points for her, she is a youngster and yet to mature into a shooter who has won gold, silver and bronze today.
'She has got a very strong will to fight and you saw that in the final, at one stage she was leading, so very close for her.' PTI AH PM PM