The Telegraph
Wednesday , May 7 , 2014
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Shooting stars take aim at school meet

Distance doesn’t bother Nandini Choudhuri. The 13-year-old boards the Gour Express from Malda every Saturday night. On reaching Sealdah station the next morning, she steps into the ladies’ room and changes into her shooting gear before heading for practice.

The Class VIII student of Holy Child English Academy in Malda was among the participants in the first edition of the West Bengal School Shooting Championship 2014 at The Heritage School last month.

Nandini was representing North Calcutta Rifle Club, her “weekend getaway for the last six months”, at the competition.

“My grandparents and aunts encouraged me to take up shooting when I hit bullseye at shooting balloons in almost every fair we visited,” said the girl who won a silver in the open sight sub-junior category. “Since there are no shooting clubs in Malda, I have to come to Calcutta every weekend. But the distance never grows on me, in fact I look forward to taking up the rifle and practising with my friends at the club.”

Pradip Kumar Acharya, the chief of jury at the tournament, welcomed the idea of introducing shooting at school level. “We need to have school championships. The more exposure students get, the better it will be for their game. I’m very happy that The Heritage School has taken the initiative. We hope to see more participants next year,” he said.

Seema Sapru, the principal of The Heritage School, agreed. “Our students have a practice arena, which is very good for basic training. But they also need to know where they stand. It is important to participate in tournaments,” she said. The school won two gold, three silver and two bronze medals. Delhi Public School, Megacity, won one silver and two bronze medals.

Aishikee Gupta, a Class XI student at the school, was happy to get a platform to compete. “We students hardly have any place to practise, so this is a great opportunity,” said the winner in the girls’ junior category.

Debangana Chatterjee, a Class VIII student at Loreto Convent, Asansol, won in the girls’ sub-junior category. Daughter of former state-level shooting champion Debojyoti Chatterjee, Debangana has been training for the last one-and-a-half years. “I would watch my father practise even after he gave up playing at a professional level. One day I decided to give it a try myself. Now I’m addicted,” she smiled.

Suvam Basu, a Class XI student at Aditya Academy, has been playing at the state and national level for three years. “I wish we had more facilities and more tournaments. The more we play the better our game will be,” said the winner in the boys’ junior category.