Updated March 14th, 2024 at 20:11 IST

Flash targets for Para Shooting World Cup trap finals create controversy

The WSPS Para Shooting World Cup is the first-ever event of its kind taking place in India and offers 20 Paris Paralympic berths.

Para Shooting World Cup | Image:International Paralympic Committee
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India had to face a huge embarrassment in front of the international shooting community of 50-odd nations, when the 'flash targets' for the finals of the prestigious WSPS Para World Cup trap events had to be discarded by the foreign jury as they were not fit for competition.

The WSPS Para Shooting World Cup is the first-ever event of its kind taking place in India and offers 20 Paris Paralympic berths.

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More than 250 shooters from 50 countries participated in the event, which concluded on Thursday, at the Karni Singh Ranges.

While 'flash targets' are not mandatory in the finals of the shotgun events, they are used in almost every international competition finals, including the Olympics, ISSF World Cup, World Championships, continental championships and even in India's national championships and trials, as they reduce judgement errors to a bare minimum.

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The 'flash target', when hit by lead splinters of a 12 bore cartridge fired by the competitor, explodes on impact, spewing a thick plume of pink colour in the atmosphere.

It becomes easy for the juries to judge whether the shooter has hit the target (made a kill) or not just by seeing the plume of pink in the atmosphere.

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While ordinary targets without colours are used in qualification rounds, the finals are, as a matter of principle, held with 'flash targets in almost every international competition.

A range official at the Karni Singh Ranges told PTI on condition of anonymity that the juries were furious and asked all the "target throwing machines to be emptied immediately of flash targets and replaced with ordinary target clay pigeons".

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"The juries asked us to remove all the stacked flash targets from the machines and replace them with ordinary targets which are used in the qualification round. It created a lot of commotion.

"A total of 25-30 range officials and anybody who knew something about trap shooting immediately sprung into action and we completed the job in 10 minutes. The competition began on time," said the range official.

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Another source said that the international jury was "furious" but since India was hosting the "prestigious Para World Cup for the first time, they did not file a complaint".

The World Shooting Para Sports (WSPS) senior manager Tyler Anderson is also in New Delhi for the competition.

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National Rifle Association of India (NRAI) secretary Rajiv Bhatia told PTI that the Paralympic Committee of India (PCI) had bought 15 cartons of flash targets from the federation but said they had not provided them poor quality or expired targets.

"Nobody has reported anything to us (with regard to the flash targets not being used for the para trap finals)," said Bhatia.

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"Of course they have bought the targets from us. They have taken them from us. These are delicate and breakable commodities, how they were handled during transportation I don't know," he said.

"Clay birds are such fragile items that if they are mishandled, they will break and even if there is a hair-line break, it cannot be used.

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"They took 15 flash bird cartons from us. We have the warehouse inside our office (a few kilometres from the range). No one can say that NRAI gave PCI defective flash targets, that would be wrong." Bhatia wondered if the flash targets were transported carefully.

"So far we have not received any complaints from the PCI. Of course we have our officials there to help the PCI but in the end the competition is theirs. They would have checked the flash targets before taking the consignment.

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"I can show how safely we store the flash targets in our office, but how carefully you transport it is what matters," he said.

He categorically denied that the flash targets were past their expiry date.

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"We are using the same clay pigeons during the national events," added Bhatia.

In a text message to PTI, Bhatia also wrote, "Other factor which contributes to breakage of clay birds is the blades (of the machines) which throw the (clay) birds. If servicing (of machines) is not done or rubbers are old on blades, breakage of birds will be more." PCI chairperson for para shooting JP Nautiyal refused to comment on the issue. 

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Published March 14th, 2024 at 20:11 IST