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Aim and shoot!

A chat with Olympian Joydeep Karmakar on the upcoming The Calcutta Swimming Club presents Corporate Shooting League 2014 in association with The Telegraph (February 26-March 1).

The idea: I have tried my best to promote shooting, in the sense of me shooting as an active athlete, my achievements… during London Olympics (2012) I was invited for a felicitation ceremony in London Kalibari! One lady told me, ‘you people are successful athletes and do a lot for our country, but at the end of the day, it is for your own good. Why aren’t people like you giving back to the society or the next generation?’ I didn’t have much to say. I said that it was on my mind and that because I was an active athlete, I could not concentrate on other things.

I gave it a good thought later and realised that if I don’t do it now and only start with it after I retire, for me, one whole generation will suffer. I cannot see anybody else coming up and doing these things. Unfortunately, an active athlete is having to do it.

The aim: At the end of the day, I want shooting to be discussed in your kitchens. If I do it with professional shooters, nobody will really be interested. On the one hand there is balloon-shooting which is something that everybody is interested in. Then there is an Abhinav Bindra or a Joydeep Karmakar in robotic gear, shooting at an Olympic. There is nothing in between.

People think it is a damn expensive sport played by the rajas! But I belong to a middle class family and I have seen other Olympians from Bengal from lower middle class families, people from Maharashtra and Haryana villages, a man in a torn ganjee and lungi who runs a shooting range at Prinsep Ghat…. First I have to get the amateurs interested in this game. I will be using an improvised target.

Corporates are the people who will support Indian sports in the long run and make it self-sustained. I think they will be thrilled and challenged. This is not just a one-off event. This is a revolution that people will keep talking about. What is shooting all about? Next, I will go to the schools and colleges to find athletes and groom them. This sport is for everybody. And Bengalis are calm by nature, which is a very important quality for a shooter!

The response: The response has been good. I cannot expect thousands because it is only for amateurs, but 175 enthusiasts is quite an achievement in itself.

The format: There are some corporate terms like ‘target’, ‘achievement’, which we will try to incorporate. You have to predict how many targets you would be able to hit within the five targets given to you. If you say three and hit three, you get 30. You can still aim for the remaining two, but you would just get five points. You played safe. If you hit only two, you get 20, minus five. So, you cannot under-achieve and you cannot over-achieve. This is a strategy game. There will be competition in both individual and team categories. I will be conducting a workshop before the tournament begins. I have imported Olympic-level rifles for this. The target is not too easy, not too tough. I have kept it challenging. Let it be a fierce competition. It is an honest try… let’s see.

Club speak: “We are trying new things and everybody is excited; 35 corporate companies have registered. Even I am going to take aim!” smiled Calcutta Swimming Club president Prashant Binnany.