2020 gave the biggest game-changer to shooting

2020 gave the biggest game-changer to shooting

  
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Screengrab of the 1st IOSC - Photo: indianshooting.com

As the year winds down and we look back, what comes to mind in these times of the pandemic is the saying, ‘necessity is the mother of invention’. From this was born the innovative idea of online shooting by former India shooter Shimon Sharif after the lockdown due to COVID-19.

Nine months since the first International Online Shooting Championship (IOSC) was held, the staging of online competitions is here to stay even when the effect of the virus wanes. The runaway success of six IOSCs and the Online Shooting League (OSL) between April and December is proof that this medium will continue to have takers even when competitions organised by ISSF commence.

With life at a standstill, organisation was a challenge, but the organisers braved the odds and went ahead. The first edition of IOSC only had qualifications and no finals, even then it was appreciated by the shooting fraternity across the world. The finals were introduced in the next edition after just 10 days of the first IOSC. Staging finals online was again a challenge as it involved the elimination format, but things went off smoothly. Word on the success of IOSC spread and the ensuing editions got bigger and better with sponsors like Steyr, Meyton and Capapie throwing their weight behind the initiative.

A screengrab of the 2nd IOSC – Photo: indianshooting.com

The year culminated with the sixth edition of IOSC which broke the charts in terms of representation of 20 countries. Such was the response that Sharif had to close registrations almost a week before the event after the cap was reached.

From an Indian perspective, the IOSC was able to re-engage the country’s four Olympic quota winners as they got to compete with quota winners from other parts of the world. As they gear up for the Tokyo Olympics next year, it was a great opportunity for Manu Bhaker, Yashaswini Singh Deswal, Sanjeev Rajput and Divyansh Singh Panwar to “awaken the competitive spirit” and experience the pressure that normally accompanies major tournaments like the ISSF World Cups.

Another feather in the cap was staging of OSL, the world’s first online league for an Olympic sport. The experience gained from IOSCs went a long way in making OSL a grand success in July. For four weeks, teams from six countries participated by logging on to the Zoom platform from their respective locations, and the specially designed ‘Race To 10’ format which was used for all the 10 matches was high on energy and viewer friendly.

A thread binding the IOSCs and OSL was the turnout of quality shooters right through. Apart from India’s four Olympic quota winners, there were six other quota winners, namely Martin Strempfl and Sylvia Steiner of Austria, Veronika Major of Hungary, Italy’s Lorenzo Bacci and Marco Suppini, and Vidya Rafika as the first Indonesian shooter to win a quota for her country.

Screengrab of the 3rd IOSC – Photo: indianshooting.com

Apart from this, Anish Bhanwala, the youngest Indian to win gold at the Commonwealth Games, two time European champion Bernhard Pickl of Austria, World No.27 Etienne Germond of France, former World No.1 Shahzar Rizvi of India and scores of Olympians and world-ranked shooters from 30 countries were a part of these novel initiatives.

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