In what is the third instance of breaching safety norms this year in Indian shooting, a teenage shooter recently accidentally fired at a physiotherapist during a tournament in Chennai, that left the latter with a broken jaw. The shooter, who hails from Bengal, shot the physiotherapist in her hotel room in Chennai earlier this year, and the physiotherapist eventually required an emergency surgery to remove the pellet, which was done at a private hospital.

Also earlier this year, a shooter in Faridabad had lost his thumb while filling the cylinder of the pistol and a rifle shooter had pointed her gun towards the fans’ gallery during the Nationals in New Delhi.

“It was accidental. The shooter was cleaning her gun and the physio suddenly appeared there. Definitely, it is the fault of the shooter, I would say. She should have been more careful. But it was totally an accidental case and happened at night,” Bengal coach Koeli Mitter, who was with the team, told PTI.

“I guess she (physio) is doing fine and we had taken her to the hospital at that moment only and a surgery was performed on the jaw. She was in day care for 24 hours,” she added.

The shooter, it is learnt, did not remove the pellet from her rifle while cleaning it and accidentally pressed the trigger just when the physio was entering her hotel room. It amounts to a violation of the safety norms for weapon handling.

The coach said that all the expenses for physio’s hospitalisation and the subsequent surgery were paid by the parents of the shooter.

Mitter said shooters are routinely counselled on handling the gun and this incident was an aberration.

“We teach shooters how to handle the guns and safety is paramount for the particular sport because, obviously they are handling guns. They need to know safety first.

“Even we are not aware (why she did not remove the pellet) from the rifle before cleaning. I was not there in the scenario, so I won’t exactly be able to say where the pellet came from but definitely the pellet was there (in the barrel),” she added.

Mitter insisted that both the state and national bodies were duly appraised about the incident.

“The NRAI (National Rifle Association of India) people were also informed about it. We immediately informed the West Bengal Rifle Association…the association then informed the NRAI. I am not aware of when they informed the NRAI,” said the West Bengal coach, who also continues to be an active rifle shooter.

NRAI secretary-general Sultan Singh, however, claimed that he was not aware of the incident but did stress on the need for only experienced former shooters as coaches.

“Today everyone is becoming a coach. Sensitising is done (by NRAI)…once you are in a competitive sport, then parents are there to watch these kids. They should be sensitised to the effects of mishandling the weapons,” said Singh.

The NRAI had recently reprimanded its range officials and issued an advisory after a serious safety violation involving a rifle shooter during the National championships at the Karni Singh Ranges.

The shooter had pointed her rifle towards the spectators gallery, which as per the International Shooting Sport Federation (ISSF) rules, is a serious safety violation.

In another incident, a national-level Indian Air Force shooter Pushpender lost his thumb while filling compressed gas in his pistol at a private shooting academy in Faridabad.

When asked if shooters were failing in complying with safety norms, Khel Ratna awardee and Asian Games gold medallist in double trap Ronjan Sodhi told PTI, “The coaches have to be certified and rather than theoretical training which Sports Authority of India (SAI) does, they have to train them more practically and proper certificates have to be given and recorded.

“Not anybody can do a course. The coaches should be renowned shots in national championships. Also, a lot of people are renowned shot in double trap but coaching trap, some have played trap but are coaching in skeet.

Renowned shot means a person who has participated in the National championship in an open men’s or women’s event and attained the Minimum Qualifying Score (MQS) specified by the NRAI.

“A renowned shot in 10m (pistol and rifle) could be coaching in 25m pistol. Safety regulations vary from event to event. The minimum requirement (for becoming coach) should be a renowned shot in that particular event,” added Sodhi.

With PTI inputs


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