While India is witnessing a total lockdown amid coronavirus outbreak, a new crisis has cropped up for the top shooters of our country. With the lockdown being observed across many countries of the world, shooters will not be able to have enough ammunition to keep their practice going.
Shooters get their supplies of ammo from Italy, Germany and the UK and now amid this crisis, the supply comes to a standstill. Most of the Indian shooters have stock that will not last more than two months.
In a conversation with Hindustan Times, national shotgun coach Mansher Singh says “There’ll be a shortfall in India for at least six months before fresh stocks arrive. That is if these European countries start manufacturing ammunition by June-end.”
Shooters like Sanjeev Rajput, who has secured a Tokyo Olympics berth, and Shreyasi Singh, the 2018 Commonwealth Games gold medallist in women’s trap, feel the shortage could go into early 2021. “I am very tense with this situation,” says Rajput. “My ammo stock will last another two months. For us, the biggest thing is the Olympics, and we have to start preparations for next year now. Shooters need their specific batch of ammunition. Shooters go to factories (abroad), test their barrels, and then they place (ammo) orders there, come back and like to import that particular batch. Now all that has stopped.” Rajput told HT.
Shreyasi’s is not being able import ammo from Italy. “Under the current scenario, I might have to depend on the federation (National Rifle Association of India, NRAI),’’ she says.
Mansher believes the shortage will go on till December 2020 or January 2021. Italy has shut shop a month ago and due to flight cancellations, the stocks couldn’t reach India.
India does not have a single company manufacturing competitive-grade arms and ammunition, including lead pellets for air rifles. Therefore, almost all shooters depend on Europe for their supplies. For shotgun, Italy is the go-to place, while for rifle, it is UK or Germany. “Nearly 95% of the top (shotgun) shooters are dependent on Italian companies,” says Prithviraj Tondaiman, India’s leading shotgun shooter to HT.
Rajput told HT that most rifle shooters import from UK. “We give an application to the NRAI stating our requirement along with an affidavit. But before that, we have to ensure our arms licence has the permission to import. The NRAI gives us the import permit. The company (in UK) then applies for an export permit with the local police which comes in three weeks. The ammunition is then shipped and we collect it here. It’s a tedious process. With the lockdown, every process has come to a standstill. This will certainly affect training of a majority of shooters. Since I come under TOPS (Target Olympic Podium Scheme), I can ask NRAI for some ammo.”