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Aim, shoot, miss by a mile

Total sharpshooters: 12
Full Marks: 50
Pass Marks: 25
Failed: 1
Barely managed to pass: Six
Above 40 (moderate): None

Forget about men on a moving motorcycle, if this report card from the Police Training School is anything to go by, the crack shots of our force would need a lot of luck to hit a stationary truck.

Four years after cops came a cropper during the January 22, 2002, shootout at American Center, Calcutta Police still seems to be struggling to find marksmen who can shoot straight.

A group of 12 from a specialised force of the special branch ' comprising personnel of the Rapid Action Force, Special Action Force and commandos ' was sent to the Police Training School, in Alipore, on June 5 for a five-day shooting exercise with 9mm Browning pistols.

Those who lined up to take a shot ' sub-inspectors, assistant sub-inspectors, head constables and constables ' are deployed on key security duty, like covering VVIP visits or guarding vital installations.

On D-Day, June 9, each was asked to fire 10 rounds from a distance of 75 feet, the closest one can shoot from at the training school.

The average marks ranged from 25 to 27. The highest was 39, scored by a sub-inspector, followed by a constable who scored 33.

Assistant commissioners at the Police Training School confirmed that a cop with a score of 40 is considered a 'moderate' shot, while those below the 30 mark are labelled 'less than average' marksmen.

'Since I don't have the results with me right now, it would be improper to comment,' Sudhir Mishra, joint commissioner of police (organisation), told Metro.

'But one should not jump to conclusions. Our commandos are regularly sent to Maneswar, where they receive the highest level of training, along with boys from the National Security Guard that protects VVIPs like the Prime Minister. Even at the Police Training School, firing tests are held almost regularly. Our men clear them,' added Mishra.

Senior officers at the Lalbazar police headquarters, however, fought shy of confirming whether 'clearing' the test was enough for cops on high-security duty or whether urgent measures were needed to improve the shooting skills of lawmen in the line of fire.

And at the thana level, officers were reluctant to entertain any talk of firearm drills.

'What shooting practice' At any police station, you have to perform law-and-order duty, go on night rounds, visit courts, finish pending paperwork, deliver summons and even do some community policing. Forget the shooting range, most policemen don't have time to visit a gym,' grumbled a sub-inspector at Maniktala police station.

That sure shows ' the waistline reflecting the no-gym regimen and the shooting range report card mirroring the off-the-mark moves.

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