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Nationals is the yearly Olympics for domestic shooters: Yoginder Pal Singh
25-year-old Yoginder Pal Singh picked up the gun at the age of 17, when he started shooting at his home in Delhi. Unlike his compatriots like Abhinav Bhindra, Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore and Ronjan Sodhi, Pal is not well known, but he is gradually making better his ranks through performance and hard work.

PAL'S ALL-time best ranking is three on the national level and his best achievements are: Silver medal at Masters Meet Competition 2011, Team Bronze and Gold at 1st Asian Shotgun Championships and Malaysian Open 2011 respectively, Team Member Asian Shooting Championships Doha, Qatar, 2012. He spoke to citizen journalist Ashim Sunam.

Tell us about your preparations and expectations from the upcoming National Shooting Championship.

Preparations for the championship have been good so far, but I am a month behind other shooters, as I recently moved to a different gun. So I need more time to get used to recoil of this gun. Personally I don't expect much, as putting unnecessary pressure will not help my case. The least, I expect from myself is fight for a place for the finals of the championship and get a good score for the team trials, which follows the nationals.

Who are the biggest challengers as far as your event double trap is concerned?

All of us (participants) are challengers for the tittle. It is just a matter of nerves and luck. Whoever holds his nerves better and has luck on his side will bag the tittle. But, obviously there are shooters with decades of experience at World stage shooting in the championhsip, who for sure have a mental head start.

How do you expect to fare against favourites such as Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore and Ronjan Sodhi?

I would love to be close to their score on 24th December (date for the finals of the event) and give them some trouble by matching their scores. But, both of them are my idols and there is no shame in finishing second or third. You can just learn by watching them shoot and feel honored to be standing next to them or shoot alongside them.

How can the sport be made popular. Will increasing the number of shooting ranges help?

Yes, we need to have more shooting ranges in the country to promote shooting and increase the standard of Indian shooting as well. We already have produced Olympic champions in recent past with whatever we have today, but this is just a drop in the ocean. Countries like Italy, Slovenia and Germany etc have more ranges in a radius of 100 kms than we have in our entire country. We need to have more world class ranges for the present champions and the talented pool of shooters in the future.

Shooting is an expensive sport in India. Is the money element a major hindrance in development of this sport?

Yes, money plays a very important role in a shooter's progress. Without money, a shooter can't train. Unlike cricket, shooting requires you to put in money to be successful, whereas in cricket you get money to play and the higher you go more you earn. The higher a shooter goes more money he needs to spend on his training. It's an individual sport so the money has to come from the shooters' pocket.

Are our national champions competitive enough vis-a-vis other countries?

India, at present has a very strong shooting team. We can compete with any country on any given day. Our national championships are harder than some international competitions. Because of lack of shooting ranges and lack of competitions for domestic shooters, nationals is the yearly Olympics for them.

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