Shooting sport has been an integral part of the Olympic Programme since their inception at Athens in 1896. In the early Games, only competitions for Army Rifles & Service Pistols along with some disgusting events like Running Deer and Live Pigeons Shooting were conducted. With the time, many changes in rules and shooting weapons came into being and many events came into fore. Till 1992 Olympic Games, Shooting was a mixed-gender event, in which both men and women could compete. In 1976, a woman shooter from America, won a silver medal in rifle event for the first time in the Olympic Games’ history. After 1992 Games, separate events for women found the favour of the organisers.
Dr Harihar Banerjee was the first Indian representative in the Olympic Shooting events. He took part in the 1952 Helsinki Olympics and fared badly in Free Rifle-3 Position and Small Bore Rifle-Prone events. He again made it to the Indian contingent for the 1956 Melbourne Games and did no better. The other competitor in the Games was HC Shaw who also performed far below par. Four years later two men team was sent to Rome in 1960 which had some noticeable success. Dr Karni Singh secured 8th place in the Clay Pigeon Trap event. This remained India’s best performance in the Olympic arena for more than four decades till Anjali Vedpathak did one notch better in the millennium year at Sydney.
Rajyawardhan Singh Rathore wrote new chapter in the Indian Olympic history by winning a silver medal in the 2004 Athens Olympic Games. By achieving this classic landmark he became the first sportsman of independent India to win an individual silver in any sports. This epic feat opened up new vistas for the Indian shooters in the world of sports.
Four years later, the champion shooter Abhinav Bindra made every countrymen proud by clinching India’s first individual gold. He achieved this phenomenal success in 10m Air Rifle Shooting event on the fourth day of the Games. The bespectacled shooter made spectacular start shooting a perfect 100 of his first 10 shots in the qualifying round and had a total of three perfect scores in six round series. In the final he not only kept his nerves in control but also shot with great consistency and clinical accuracy. He scored a brilliant 104.5 points to win the gold with a final tally of 700.5 points.
In 2012 London Olympic Games Indian shooters again brought home glorious success winning a silver and a bronze medal. Pistol shooter Vijay Kumar, a relatively unkown face among Indian sports lover, sprang a pleasant surprise by walking away with a silver medal in the 25m Rapd Fire Pistol event. Known for his discipline, sincerity and extreme physical fitness, Vijay Kumar rose to the occasion and calmly and calculatively shot to bag a silver medal for the country. Ace marksman Gagan Narang won the bronze medal in the 10m Air Rifle event.
1952 Helsinki: Dr Harihar Banerjee
1956 Melbourne: Dr Harihar Banerjee & HC Shaw
1960 Rome: Dr Karni Singh, Keshav Sen and US Hemchand Manager – Daya Singh Sandhu. Udayan Chinubhai was also selected in the Indian team but he could not make the trip because of paucity of foreign exchange.
1964 Tokyo: Dr Karni Singh & Thakur Devi Singh. Manager – Daya Singh Sandhu & Armourer – Kalu Singh. Karni Singh didn’t perform well this time. He finished 26th out of 52 competitors in the Trap event. Among the other entrants – Thakur Devi Singh was placed 49th. Randhir Singh also took part but he too performed miserably.
1968 Mexico City: Dr Karni Singh & Randhir Singh. The veteran shooter Karni Singh began the competition on a sensational note finishing second after the first round but slipped badly in the second round thus subsequently missing an opportunity of bagging a medal. He scored 98 in first round and 96 in the second. Finally he finished seventh in the tie and eighth overall in the standing. Randhir Singh, who had a good second round score of 98, obtained 14th position.
1972 Munich: Dr Karni Singh, Randhir Singh, SK Roy Chaudhary & PK Chatterjee. Manager – Maj Apji Kalyan Singh. Dr Karni Singh finished 37th and Randhir Singh 41st in the Trap shooting. In Small Bore Rifle- Prone Position event, Parimal Chatterjee and SK Roy Chaudhary managed only 95th and 99th place among the 101 contestants.
1976 Montreal: Randhir Singh, Gurbir Singh, Maharao Bhim Singh. Coach – Daya Singh Sandhu Manager – Maj Apji Kalyan Singh. Randhir Singh once again failed to deliver his best and finished 21st in the Trap event. He shot a poor 175 out of 200. Gurbir Singh and Maharaja Bhim Singh of Kota took part in the Skeet event and they too returned a poor performance.
1980 Moscow: Dr Karni Singh, Randhir Singh, SK Roy Chaudhary & Gian Singh. All the four shooters had very insignificant outing. Karni Singh ended 16th with a score of 188 while Randhir Singh shot 186 for 21st position in the Trap competition.
1984 Los Angeles: Baljit Singh, Bhagirath Samai, RK Vij, Mohinder Lal, Randhir Singh, Mansher Singh, HS Sandhu and Soma Dutta. Coach – Daya Singh Sandhu Manager – AK Balashanmugham. For the first time India entered a woman shooter along with seven male shooters. Randhir Singh and Mansher Singh had an identical score of 176 and were jointly placed 35th in the Trap event. Baljit Singh finished 31st in Free Pistol and Rajender Kumar Vij 32nd in the Rapid Fire Pistol. In Free Rifle Prone Position, Bhagirath Samai continued the India’s dismal show by taking 39th place. Baljit Singh, Mohinder Lal and Harsimran Singh Sandhu also did nothing noteworthy in their events. Soma Dutta – the lone woman competitor, in some way performed a bit better than her male counterparts. She took part in two events and finished 17th in Standard Rifle and 22nd in Air Rifle.
1988 Seoul: Soma Dutta. Only Soma Dutta found a place in the 47-member Indian contingent. Like previous Games, she participated in two events and finished 23rd and 30th in Standard Rifle and Air Rifle respectively.
1992 Barcelona: Soma Dutta & Abha Dhillon. Coach / Manager – Sunny Thomas. The performance of both the female shooters was far below their best.
1996 Atlanta: Jaspal Rana & Mansher Singh. Coaches – Sunny Thomas & Assanov Alexander. Jaspal Rana shot 574, four short of his career best score of 578 in the Air Pistol and finished a joint 29th with 6 other shooters. Mansher also failed to deliver his best.
2000 Sydney: Abhinav Bindra, Anwer Sultan & Anjali Vedpathak. Of the three shooters, only Anjali put up a spirited performance and became the first Indian woman shooter to reach an Olympic final. She scored an encouraging 493.1 and ended up a creditable eighth in women’s Air Rifle event. Anwer Sultan finished 29th in the Double Trap competition.
2004 Athens: Abhinav Bindra, Gagan Narang, Mansher Singh, Manavjit Singh Sandhu, Rajyawardhan Singh Rathore, Suma Shiru, Anjali Vedpathak and Deepali Deshpande. Coaches – Sunny Thomas, Stanislav Lapidus, Mark Russell Manager – Baljit Singh Sethi. (Performance details)
2008 Beijing: Abhinav Bindra, Gagan Narang, Sanjeev Rajput, Mansher Singh, Manavjit Singh Sandhu, Rajyawardhan Singh Rathore, Samresh Jung, Anjali Vedpathak and Avneet Kaur Sidhu. Coaches – Sunny Thomas, Laszlo Szucsak, Csaba Gyorik, PS Sodhi, Shyam Singh Yadav and TS Dhillon. Dy Chef-de-Mission – Baljit Singh Sethi. (Performance details)
2012 London: Abhinav Bindra (10m Air Rifle), Gagan Narang (10m Air Rifle & 50m rifle-3 position), Joydeep Karmakar (50m Rifle-prone), Sanjeev Rajput (50m Tifle-3 position), Manavjit Singh Sandhu (Trap), Ronjan Sodhi (Double Trap) and Vijay Kumar (50m Rapid fire Pistol). Women: Annuraj Singh (10m Air pistol), Heena Sidhu, Rahi Sarnobat (both 50m pistol) and Shagun Chowdhary (Trap). (Performance details – Page 1 I Page 2 )
2016 Rio de Janeiro: Abhinav Bindra (10m air rifle), Kynan Chenai (Trap), Mairaj Ahmad Khan (Skeet), Prakash Nanjappa (50m pistol), Gagan Narang (10m air rifle, 50m rifle prone, 50m rifle 3 positions), Jitu Rai (10m air pistol, 50m pistol), Chaini Singh (50m rifle prone, 50m rifle 3 positions), Gurpreet Singh (10m air pistol, 25m rapid fire pistol), Manavjit Singh Sandhu (Trap). Women: Apurvi Chandela (10m air rifle), Ayonika Paul (10m air rifle), Heena Sidhu (10m air pistol, 25m pistol). (Performance details)
|… by Arun Arnaw Khare|