By Dr. K. Javeed Nayeem, MD
The recent report in SOM that a sports complex built by the MUDA at great cost at Vijayanagar in our city has been lying idle and unused for the last eight years makes very sad reading by itself. But the part that is sadder still is the information that this now crumbling complex has become a haven for anti-social elements who have been using it regularly as a place where they can indulge in drinking, gambling and other nefarious activities.
There are many such government-launched facilities across many cities and towns in our State which have not been put to their full intended use simply because the authorities do not have the inclination and expertise to manage them efficiently. It is therefore better if all such establishments are handed over either to private agencies or to reputed educational institutions which can maintain them well and make the best use of the facilities they offer. A provision, on payment of a reasonable fee, to allow their use by other agencies which may require them for their events, can be included in the contract.
Looking at the Vijayanagar sports complex I feel that an excellent indoor air-rifle shooting range can be established there since it has large enough covered area with all other facilities. This hitherto much neglected sport is becoming increasingly popular in many North Indian cities which is why we are seeing only youngsters from the Northern States outshooting all the others at national and international shooting events. It is high time that we thought of popularising this excellent sport which can instil skills like patience, perseverance and concentration in all those who choose to pursue it.
Today, most of our youngsters suffer from a lack of these very essential attributes as the present era offers them many useless and even harmful distractions that can excite or placate their mind without requiring any effort. This absence of the need for any effort and training also converts many of them into drop-outs from all their fleeting pursuits as they tend to get very easily discouraged by early setbacks and failures. Incidentally, this tendency can be easily and effectively conquered by some careful honing of their spirit of persistence. Because it is a slowly learnt skill like music, dance and yoga that require discipline, constant effort and practice, competitive sport-shooting too can very effectively increase the coordination between mind and body. If you ponder over what I am saying I’m sure you will realise that all those of our youngsters who excel in something as simple as music or dance are not so much distracted by their mobile phones and the access to the social media that they offer. They develop a completely different and more fruitful point of focus which makes it easy for them to identify, isolate and reach the goals they set for themselves.
Since the sport of air-rifle shooting does not require much spending at the basic levels, it can easily be pursued even by persons of modest means. Only when one qualifies for competing at very advanced events the need for acquiring some state-of-the-art equipment arises but that is thankfully the time when sponsorships become easily available.
But the sheer joy of simply toying with an air rifle is something that has to be experienced to be believed ! The sport itself is so addictive that anyone who indulges in it will simply never feel like giving it up and will therefore continue to remain an adherent braving all odds.
I still remember very well the joy my first Diana air rifle brought into my life when my father gave it to me as an unexpected gift when I went home for my summer holidays as a seven-year-old boy. My father soon realised that the Model 35 he had bought for me was much too big for my size and offered to get it exchanged for a smaller one when he went to Bangalore next. He said that he could do it very easily as Raju, the owner of Guncraft, the shop that he had bought it from was his close friend. But I simply refused to let go for fear of losing something that I had developed a love for at first sight. I reassured him that I would soon grow up and it would suit me fine and thus dissuaded him from going ahead with his good intentions. And, sure enough, I grew up with the gun, shooting it for many years with its butt clumsily tucked under my arm rather than supported smartly on my shoulder! And, I shot it admirably well, impressing all my friends and relatives with my skills.
This gun of my childhood remained my constant companion all through my growing years and it has remained in our family to this day as a much loved family member. It has been a giver of much joy as all my younger siblings and even my own children learnt the art of rifle shooting admirably well with it ! Unlike most other sports which require much strength and a good physique, the sport of competition shooting can be pursued by anyone of an ordinary build. All our school and college students can give it a try at some point of their lives and see if they do well at it.
It is good that now the CBSE has also decided to include air-rifle shooting in its curriculum and is urging all its affiliated institutions to encourage this sport. If a few of the many reputed colleges and schools in our city come forward to include the sport of air-rifle shooting into their sporting activities they can adopt the Vijayanagar sports complex and create an excellent shooting range there with all the requirements of the sport incorporated into it.
They would perhaps do well to rope in the services of a qualified training agency with good credentials like how even defence academies are doing these days as this is a very specialised field. Who knows, very soon they may be able to turn out some outstanding shooters who may bring laurels not only to themselves but to our city too at the Olympics!
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