New Delhi, July 6: Through innovations, Olympic medallist Gagan Narang is seeking to make shooting sport affordable and accessible for aspiring shooters from modest backgrounds.
Narang is familiar with the struggle young athletes face in their quest to reach the top. Twenty years ago, after he came home crying, the London Olympics bronze medallist shooter has seen his father sell his house to buy him an air rifle.
13 years later, Narang would go on to become only the second Indian shooter to win an Olympic medal in 10m air rifle.
The 36-year-old now mentors shooters at the Gun for Glory academy. "The idea is to make shooting as accessible and affordable as possible. I hope it becomes like badminton and cricket and reach almost every house," Narang told PTI during a chat.
"We are trying to explore innovative ways to help the aspiring shooters, like making everything as much subsidised as possible. More the subsidies, the better it is. Now how to get subsidy, there also we are trying to take help through innovations," the multiple World Cup and Commonwealth Games gold medallist said.
"The endeavour is to give the shooters who have just started, and not just the established ones, the best of facilities and training, the technical bit as well as the mental aspect."
While he has no doubt that things have improved drastically from the time he was dreaming to make it big, Narang said more needs to be done, urging corporate houses and state governments for a raise.
"Back in our time, things were different and the situation is much better now, there is no doubt about that. But it is always better if more and more corporate houses are involved and also the governments. They definitely need more support," the ace rifle man said.
In May, the Gagan Narang Sports Promotion Foundation shortlisted 30 shooters from 300 applicants for the ambitious 'Project Leap'. The selected youth and junior shooters from across India are part of the third year of this elite programme which aims for excellence at grassroots.
The GNSPF-backed Project Leap trained shooters are already making impressions at the international arena by unearthing the untapped talent. On and off, Narang have stars from other disciplines visiting the academy, which helps in promoting the sport. The most recent was cricketer Dwayne Bravo.