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Aiming To Be The Best

A few weeks ago, I signed up for a Civilian Rifle Training Course at the SAI (Sports Authority of India) Shooting Range in Bangalore. Assuming you're under 18, for 2600 rupees and 8 classes, you can learn to shoot a pistol and a rifle and, if you happen to be good enough, get a membership to the Karanataka State Rifle Association. With one of those, you can walk into the range any time you want, pick up a 9mm from the armourer and pepper a target with holes.

Why would a peace-loving 16-year-old want to be trained in the use of firearms, you ask? Well, I've begun to read news again lately and I've decided that I no longer want to be involved with our nation's administration, so I need some way to deal with tax collectors and census men without having to make the effort of going out to stab them. I'm joking, of course (I can hear the Modi government's sighs of relief all the way in Bangalore). I signed up for the CRTC because I'm in the NCC and I need to be good with a rifle if I ever hope to be a part of the Republic Day parade in Delhi. What better way to learn to be good with a rifle than to go and shoot one once a week?

The 25-metre firing range at SAI

They start you out with air rifles, which are the same size as a regular rifle but have pellets propelled by compressed air rather than gunpowder. They aren't exactly harmless - a piece of metal propelled by compressed air can do some pretty serious damage at close range - but they aren't usually lethal, either. Then, they move you up to .22 rifles - the kind they use for sports. After that, they teach you to use air pistols, .22 pistols and then, just in case you ever need to leave a large, well-placed hole in someone's skull, .32 pistols.

I'm not really been one for sports - for as long as I can remember, I've had a hand-eye coordination that can be described as mediocre at best. Firing, though, doesn't feel like a sport in the traditional sense. You aren't sprinting after a ball, and I have a feeling that its fans are rather less likely to kill each other than, say, a Chelsea fan and an Arsenal fan, should they happen to meet in the streets. Firing is a much more sedentary sport, in the sense that you aren't really running around. Firing is more about standing in one place and trying to keep your hands from shaking for long enough to fire a shot. Then, you feel abject disappointment wash over you as you realize that it hit the target next to the one you're supposed to be aiming at. Doesn't sound like the most fulfilling way to spend a morning, I know, but in a strange way, it's fun.

A .22 rifle, some bullets and targets

One of the most incredible things I've seen since I signed up for the CRTC, though, are the people who shoot in national and international competitions. SAI has, as far as I know, the best shooting ranges in the city, and a lot of India's shooters train there. I can barely keep a rifle barrel straight for the seven seconds it takes to fire a shot, but these guys appear to have arms made of titanium, because once they have their guns pointed at the targets, they don't move so much as a muscle, save for their fingers. It's amazing to watch.

I never imagined that my passions would ever come to include unloading a firearm at a sheet of paper, but the truth is, I've come to rather enjoy it. While it'll be quite a while before I get to be as accurate as Deadshot in the Batman comics or, come to that, even as the clones in the Star Wars movies, I can now hit a 30cm target from 25 metres fairly reliably, so I suppose it's a start. Now, if you'll excuse me, I think I hear the census men knocking, and I can't seem to remember where I left my ammo...


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