Insights from the TN State Shooting Championship – shotgun

By J. P. Janakan

Though a cool morning gives way to a hot blistering afternoon, it does not dampen the spirits of supercharged tireless men and women of all ages with guns slung across their shoulders getting ready to pull their triggers at the Tamilnadu state shooting championship-shotgun at the HH The Maharaja of Pudukottai shooting range.

I get ready at my station and call for the orange clay target that is hurled at 90 mph towards the sky with only a couple of seconds or less to shoot it down. The excitement builds up and a bulls eye breaks the target into smithereens, leaving the smell of gunpowder hanging in the air only to get me to the next station for another round of adrenaline rush.

This time around, the annual state event was hosted by the HH the Maharaja of Pudukottai Rajagopal Thondaiman, a keen shooter himself, at his range in Pudukottai from 1st August to 5th August 2018. There were a record total of 143 shooters and the total entries were 271. Me being a participant from Sastri Nagar, did not want to miss the opportunity to have a conversation with the Maharaja, Mr. DV Seetharama Rao, Secy. General of the National Rifle Association of India (NRAI) and G.Susheel, Secy General, Karnataka State Rifle Association and a governing body member of NRAI at the venue to check out some of their thoughts on this amazing sport. Here are the excerpts of the exchange of conversation through the day…….

Share some insights about your passion for shotguns and your achievements in the sport Maharaja.

My father’s armoury, at one time housed around 400 guns and he started me off with shotguns from a young age of 7. The early introduction to shotguns and shooting developed into a deep passion for the sport.

In 1981, I started off competing in the skeet discipline with Mr. Gopinath of Premier Tyres and later Dr. Sivanthi Adityan , ex -President IOA as my mentors. I won silver in the state in the same year and later on represented the Indian team in the Asian clay shooting championships and have won numerous medals at the national level.

Purpose of setting up this range ?

The state-of-the-art Trap and Skeet range was commissioned in 2015, essentially to train my son Prithviraj Thondaiman. The range is located near Keeranur between Trichy and Pudukottai in 14 acres of land and houses equipment and machines that conform to world class standards. My son is currently ranked 5th in India and is in the Indian team. My daughter too is a promising shooter, training in the range.

(Incidentally, the Maharani, Charubala Thondaiman, the ex-mayor of Trichy was a resident of Sastri Nagar.)
What led you to the concept of a shooting club?

Realising that there was a great demand for good ranges, I formed the Royal Pudukottai Sports Club in 2015 and opened it for memberships.

The member strength is growing and I welcome more people to join the club. We have been training many young shooters in the State; our trainee N. Nivetha has made it to the Indian team in Trap. We are imparting free training to deserving local girl students and some of them have the potential to make it big in the years to come. We can organise coaching camps provided there are at least 4 shooters in a camp.

While a club house is being built, a state-of-the-art air rifle range is going to be developed in Trichy by the club.

Could you tell us the stages of progress in a shooters life and our chances in the Asian games, I quizzed Mr.Rao.
Coaching camps are held by SAI through NRAI to train shooters to bring laurels to our country. Any aspiring shooter must join a club and progress through the State, South zone, Nationals and then pitch for the Indian team. There are minimum qualifications to reach each stage, and it also carries benefits along with it such as importing your own arms and ammunition and so on.

While we have a good contingent and did exceedingly well in the Commonwealth Games, the Asian Games will have far more intense competition from countries such as China, Korea, Japan, Kuwait, Qatar, UAE etc.

What are the Mantras for success in this sport? (I shot this question at the trio)

Maharaja : Discipline, commitment and concentration are important. The key is to listen and train with your coach. The attributes demanded by the sport builds your character.

DV Seetharama Rao added that one must develop a good technique. Work on good reflex and hand and eye coordination.
G. Susheel stated that amongst other things, practicing dry firing with snap caps or spent cartridges will go a long way to hit targets in a live situation.

I see the last flash of the orange disk as it comes into focus as my shots ring out and the Target breaks up as the bits and dust began to settle into the backdrop of the cool evening sky.

All good things must come to an end and I leave the range with fond memories of shooting and the camaraderie that I witnessed during the championship. The South Indian cuisine too at the venue will be missed, organised by the hosts, that could be the envy of any food fest that we go to. BRAVO! To the organisers in the State as I live to shoot another day at the next season.

The competition was inaugurated by Mr.Varadaraju IG, Central Zone and the chief guest for the prize distribution was Mr.S.Selvaraj I.P.S., Superintendant of Police, Pudukottai. The secretaries of the 3 main clubs in Tamilnadu: Mr. S. Vel Shankar – Madurai, Mr.D.V.S.Rao – Chennai and Mr.Marudachalam – Coimbatore and President of TNSA Mr.R.Ravikrishnan were present during the championship.

Dr. Parthiban Manoharan, my coach and a shooter at national level, felt that it was not easy to coach me since I am basically into rifle shooting and my mind is cluttered with those techniques. Coaching a beginner is easy as the mind will be an empty page he added. But, nevertheless, he instructed me to develop the right technique and shoot quickly and instinctively and have a good follow through.