Faridkot’s Sift Kaur Samra was navigating the choice of holding up a rifle or a stethoscope not too long ago. Soon, she will be representing India at the ISSF World Championship Rifle/Pistol in Cairo, Egypt in the 50m Rifle 3 Positions events.
While the 21-year-old has had a journey that she is now invested in, it started – in her words – luckily. As a kid she was not into sports. But a casual afternoon at a shooting range in her hometown with a family friend, who was into skeet shooting, pushed her one step into this direction. She now finds herself wanting to enjoy and excel in the sport. A very good score in the 10m range on the first day meant that she felt encouraged but also determined because now it meant she had a passion she could pursue.
“My family friend told my dad, ‘Let Sift also try this game.’ On my first day itself, I ended up with a very good score in 10 metres. So everyone told my dad, ‘let’s bring her the rifle, she can do it’,” she recalled of that afternoon several years ago, in a conversation with Scroll.in.
Sift had success at the junior and youth level in India, she had topped the 50-meter rifle prone event at the National shooting trials but an individual gold eluded her. And so, in May this year, Sift felt the happiest she had felt in her career so far when she shone at the ISSF Junior World Cup in Suhl. Among her multiple medals across individual and team events, she beat Norway’s Julie Johannessen 17-9 in the final to clinch gold in the Women’s 50M Rifle 3 Positions.
“I think the greatest joy in my career so far would be my first international medal at Germany. It was going to be my last junior match and so to a get a gold there [in individual event] was a great achievement for me,” said Sift.
She also won a silver in the 50m Rifle Prone Mixed Team event, the 50m Rifle 3 Positions Mixed Team and a bronze in the 50m Rifle 3 Positions Team Women in the same event. In July, she added another bronze to her tally with a 50m Rifle 3 Positions Team Women at the Changwon ISSF World Cup.
But, when did it hit her that this was her calling? Sift recalled that it was back in 2016 that she realised that she was made for the sport and the sport was made for her. Playing for the North Zone in the NR event, she had secured a medal in the senior, junior as well as youth category.
“When I won my first medal at the State level in 2016 is when I realised that I was made for this sport. That was how I got more interested in shooting. After that when I qualified for the nationals, and as the medals kept coming, so did the fun,” said Sift.
“When I was studying, I did not ever get a first rank or a medal in class. The only ones who had medals in their houses were my friends who topped. So, when I got a state medal for the first time, it was a huge deal for me because I didn’t know much about sport and I had just never won a medal before. I enjoyed even looking at it so much. Till date, that medal is my most important one.”
Studying and clearing the extremely gruelling NEET exams is a feat on its own but balancing a career in both shooting and medicine left her at a rather interesting point in her career.
“At one point, I was thinking of leaving my game because I went to MBBS college after I cleared my NEET exams. I was in two minds about playing then,” she said.
“I had only played once internationally by then and that was at Peru. I had Nationals right before the NEET results. I was very free-minded before that because I was playing for fun and I didn’t even know if I was going to play again after that or not. That was the same nationals where I got my junior national record and where I began my international journey.”
Her most recent Women’s 50m Rifle 3 positions crown at the recently-concluded National Games has given her just the confidence she needs heading into the World Championship in Cairo where Paris 2024 Olympic quota spots are at stake, not just medals.
“At the National Games, I tried a few changes and I quite liked that so I would just like to polish everything overall, which I am doing,” she added.
Sift Kaur Samra may have had a fascinating journey to becoming one of India’s promising shooters but her process to continue moving forward is rather uncomplicated. She doesn’t have a role model or someone she seeks a lot of inspiration from. All she hopes to be is a person who enjoys understanding every other individual but still be her own, confident and joyful self.
The target is to keep taking steps in the right direction, as she has so far at different junctures. To know she is improving herself.
“What I’m looking forward to is reaching a final at the senior level because that would be my first,” she said. “This time around, I am hoping that I reach the top eight and hopefully, do my best. I want to touch one score more than the scores that I have already touched because that will help me understand if I am on the right track or not.”
The detailed schedule for the Pistol / Rifle events at ISSF World Championship 2022 in Cairo is here.