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Rifle glory for coal belt

The state government has failed to sit up and take notice of them. But that has not act as a deterrent for these talented sportspersons as they have overcome all odds to tread the path of glory.

Meet the Dhanbad shooters, who completed a hat-trick at Jharkhand State Shooting Championship by securing the top position for the third successive year in the meet held in the capital this time from March 21 to 23.

Dhanbad Rifle Association president Sanjay Tiwari told The Telegraph on Wednesday that the 37-member strong contingent of Dhanbad shooters — that included 22 men and 15 women — bagged 17 medals in all.

“Dharmendra Kumar and Vipul Kumar won golds in the senior and junior categories respectively. Male shooters bagged four silvers and their female counterparts two. Of the nine bronze, men wrested five and the rest were clinched by the women,” Tiwari said.

Manager of Dhanbad team Babulal Vishwakarma, an ace shooter himself and a BCCL employee, hailed the achievement of his wards but at the same time, took the opportunity to rue lack of government support and resources.

“Majority of our players practice with air guns available with the district association. But the matches are played with peep sights guns,” Vishwakarma said.

He added that though a handful of players from well-to-do families do use peep sight guns, which cost around Rs 25,000 each, but that was not enough. “Had the government provided all the players with the opportunity to practice with peep sight guns, the shooters would excel further,” he added.

The team manager made another ‘shocking’ revelation — Dhanbad Rifle Association does not have a practice range of their own.

“We hold practice sessions at the compound of our president Sanjay Tiwari’s house,” Vishwakarma said.

He further complained of lack of institutional recognition for the achievements.

“Our offices don’t give us special leave to participate in the meets,” he added.