Shooting has become quite the bone of contention in Indian sport over the last month after the Birmingham 2022 organisers announced that the sport will not be part of the next Commonwealth Games.

Shooting has been included in every Games apart from one since 1966, but is still an optional sport and the inclusion is left to the hosts. The Birmingham organizers chose to exclude it from their roster largely due to absence of suitable venues as well to include new audiences with the addition of women’s cricket, beach volleyball and para table tennis.

Ever since the announcement in June, the sports global and Indian governing bodies, along with the Indian Olympic Association have been up in arms about the decision to exclude the sport. The IOA has gone on to request the Sports Ministry to boycott the Games over the sport’s exclusion. Last year, the National Rifle Association of India president Raninder Singh also asked the Indian government to boycott the Games if shooting was dropped from the programme.

From the Indian perspective, the absence of shooting is definitely likely to make a considerable dent into the overall medals tally given the increasingly good performances by the country’s shooters at the international level.

But just how significant a difference will shooting not being there make?

India has been the highest medal winner in shooting at four of the last five CWG, starting with Manchester in 2002. With a total of 136 medals, they are sit second on the all-time medal winners in shooting at CWG behind Australia.

In the last edition at Gold Coast in 2018, Indian shooters bagged 16 medals of the 66 medals including seven gold, four silver and five bronze. In the years before when pairs and teams were a part of the competition, India had a much richer haul with the homes games in 2010 being the most successful.

Here’s a look at how shooting has grown to become one of the strongest disciplines for Indian athletes at the CWG.

India's Shooting medal tally

Edition Overall medals  Medals from shooting  Percenatge of medals from shooting (rounded up)
Gold Coast, 2018 66 16 24%
Glasgow, 2014 64 17 26.5%
Delhi, 2010 101 30 30%
Melbourne, 2006 49 26 54%
Manchester, 2002 69 24 35%
Kuala Lumpur 1998 25 9 36%
Victoria 1994 24 7 29%
Auckland 1990 32 5 16%
Brisbane 1982
16 2 12%
Edmonton 1978 15 0 0%
Christchurch 1974 15 0 0%
Kingston 1966 10 0 0%
Note: India didn't participate in the 1986 CWG and shooting was not part of the 1970 CWG

Ian Reid, the Chief Executive Officer for the 2022 Commonwealth Games, defended the organisers’ decision to not include shooting in the sports roster. He said that there was an assessment panel formed to review the position of each sport based on criteria such as financial considerations; suitable venues and additional revenue from ticket sales and/or sponsorship.

While shooting scored well on some of these factors, the big problem, facing the sport was the availability of venues.

Meanwhile, sports administrators in India are looking to change this decision of the organisers.

While proposing a boycott of the 2022 CWG, IOA chief Narinder Batra lashed out at the CGF leadership for having an “India bashing mindset” and for “trying to change rules” whenever the country does well in the Commonwealth Games. He even went to the extent of saying that India is no longer a colony of any country.

Former sports minister Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore had last year written to his British counterpart as well to the CGF President, urging them to intervene and ensure that the sport remains a part of the 2022 edition.

The CGF, however, had left it to the host nation to decide the fate of shooting, which has always been an optional sport.

The International Shooting Sport Federation is also at odds with the Birmingham Games organisers over the exclusion as well Reid’s statement that they were given a choice to have just two disciplines at the Games.

“The decision which has been made decreases the popularity of the Commonwealth Games and impacts negatively on many countries, dependencies and territories of the Commonwealth,’ ISSF said in a statement.

All data from the Commonwealth Games Federation website