Of late, the iconic Dr. Karni Singh Shooting Range has been in the news for reasons other than shooting sport. As shooters train their guns on targets, another ‘target practice’ seems to be going on inside the range, which is leaving everyone, including the shooters, their accompanying parents, personal coaches, etc, none the wiser.
A circular issued by the authorities at the shooting range, targeting parents and coaches and restricting their movement – and entry – , has snowballed into a major controversy which does not bode well for any of the stakeholders.
The Sports Authority of India vide its circular dated June 14, has put a ban on parents/guardian and coaches accompanying the shooters from sitting in the spectators gallery and any digression would lead to them being thrown out by the security guards.
In fact, shooters, both national campers and those who train under the ‘Come and Play’ scheme of the government, can only train under Sports Authority of India-empanelled coaches and not with their personal coaches.
For long, this queer rule of only allowing SAI-empanelled coaches to train shooters has been the sore point with personal coaches, who feel that they have groomed their wards to compete at this level and now someone else is virtually “snatching away” their years of hard work.
Someone like Olympian Joydeep Karmakar feels genuinely cheated as he is not able to coach his ward Mehuli Ghosh at the Karni Singh Range because he is a personal coach and is not on the SAI-empanelled list. There are several coaches like Amit Sheoran, who trains Saurabh Chaudhary, and many more who would be feeling cheated, and rightly so.
But what has vitiated the atmosphere further is the stringent rules for parents/guardian, “who will be escorted out by security personnel” if they try to enter the range.
Shooting sport requires utmost care, as one is handling firearms, and for that parents/guardians are required to be with their wards at all times. Rule 36 of the Arms Act 2016 mandates immediate presence, direct supervision and guidance of adult instructor when a shooter is below the age of 21 years.
Additionally, in Delhi, when the arms licence is given by Delhi Police, parents have to give an affidavit (in case the shooter is under 21) that either one or both of them will remain present when the training is given and when the firearm is being used or transported.
The Karni Singh Shooting Range’s order is contrary to the Delhi Police order and has left parents/guardians at their wits’ end. With far too many teenagers flocking the range to train and with a very limited number of SAI-empanelled coaches to train them, chances of a mishap increase manifold as, like in a classroom, one teacher can’t give individual attention to each and every student.
The scenario at the range is similar but with an underlying danger – children are using firearms without the supervision of parents/guardians.
Is the range order putting the well-being of young shooters at risk?