Nepali Times
A trigger happy sport


Considering how much Nepalis are shooting each other lately, you'd expect shooting as a sport to be much more popular than it is.

Shooting and swimming are two compulsory sports in the Olympics but shooting never received much recognition here. Still, Kishore Karki, president of the Nepal Shooting Association says, "Shooting has come a long way and now we are trying to get new equipment to promote it further within the country."

It was recognised as an official sport only after 1980 but it has come to the fore in the past two years after Nepali sharpshooters got experience at international tournaments.

There is evidence of increased interest. The participation of both male and female players in this sport is high and the Nepali team also managed to bag the bronze medal in the 8th SAF games. National player and runner-up in the recent Birthday Cup Tournament, Sangeeta Karki says, "We want to see shooting made more professional with better equipment."

Training and the fact that the only professional shooting range in Nepal is in Kathmandu has limited accessibility. Then there is the additional problem of costly equipment.

Most of our national level shooters, so far, come from either police or army backgrounds. The top two female shooters, Saraswati Baniya and Sangita Karki, winner and runner-up in the air pistol category of the Birthday Cup, are both from the police. But Asim Yadav, who won the Best Air Rifle in the Birthday Cup Open Shooting Competition is a civilian gun enthusiast.

"I come from the tarai and the men in my family have always been interested in shooting, they used to go hunting but I've liked it as a sport," says Yadav. Saraswati Baniya got interested after she joined the police force. "Shooting is a part of my job, I enjoy it but can understand how it would be difficult for a civilian to take it up," she told us. And even though she is from the police she says she doesn't get enough time to practice. "Regular intensive practice only happens right before a tournament, which is not enough," she adds.

Says Karki, "It does need more exposure but we have to be careful about the people we select to train or accept membership from because of the country's volatile situation." The sport is already being promoted in schools and colleges with an inter-college tournament in the pipeline.

The Nepal Shooting Association is on the look out for new players and is increasing the participation of schools and colleges. "We are not only looking for younger and newer players to send to tournaments but also encouraging the sport by making it more accessible to those interested," says Karki.

Shooting is not as easy as it looks. It needs a lot of focus and concentration, says Yadav, adding: "It helps me stay fit because it requires both physical and mental fitness. Without clarity of the mind, taking a shot can be very difficult."

Now, with the establishment of the shooting range at Birendra International Convention Centre, new equipment on the way, new tournaments in the pipeline and a new committee in place, Nepal should be earning shooting medals soon.

(11 JAN 2013 - 17 JAN 2013)