The 2010s was decade that saw Indian shooting go through a roller-coaster ride and come out on top, making the next year perhaps the most exciting time for the sport in the country.
Never before have Indian shooters shown such widespread consistency than in the last two years, which also formed part of an Olympic cycle. While the records tumbled, the record-breakers’ age ranged from 16 (Saurabh Chaudhary) to 38 (Sanjeev Rajput) making it a truly unique decade.
The number of Olympic quotas, which now stands at a record 15, is an important reflection of the country’s rise in the sport. In Rio, there were 12 Indian competitors but there weren’t a corresponding number of ISSF medals in the preceding Olympic cycle. However, ahead of the 2020 Tokyo Games, India won eight quota places at the ISSF World Cups in 2019 and one at the Championship in 2018.
A look at the number of medals India have won at the major international events in the last 10 years tells the tale of the rise, dip and a rapid rise.
India at the Olympics in 2010s
|Olympics Games||Number of competitors||Number of medals|
The microcosm of the shooting’s journey in the last decade is symbolised by India’s Olympic performance. From the 2012 London Olympics where India won the best-ever haul of two medals (Gagan Narang, 10m air rifle bronze and Vijay Kumar, 25m rapid fire pistol silver) to 2016 Rio Games, where India could not the reach the podium to 2019, and now when the hope for Tokyo is unprecedented with record quota spots won at International Shooting Sport Federation events.
In the meantime, the sport recovered from a precarious spot more than once. There was a time in 2012 – an Olympics year – that no Indian won a World Cup medal. There was a time when India almost had no representation in shotgun events at the 2020 Games after for the first time since 1996. But perhaps the most dangerous was the Rio debacle.
When a squad boasting of Abhinav Bindra, Gagan Narang, Jitu Rai, Manavjit Singh Sandhu and Heena Sidhu reached the final of only two disciplines, it pointed at a much deeper-rooted problem.
But with the efforts of National Rifle Association of India and acting upon the report by the Abhinav Bindra-led committee who drafted a 36-page review about India’s display in 2016, corrective measures were put in place and a robust junior program established which saw the incredible turnaround in the last couple of years.
As things stand, India dominated the rifle and pistol shooting events in 2019 returning with a historic medal tally of 22 medals with 16 golds. India have topped the medal standings of all the four ISSF World Cup (rifle/pistol) stages this year, which is a huge step up from even 2018 when the country won a then-record tally of 10 medals.
The progression can be seen in a year-by-year look at the number of medals India have won at international competitions in each year of this decade. And the rise, especially at the ISSF World Cup which is held four time a year, is commendable.
Medals won by India at ISSF World Cups in 2010s
|Year||Overall ISSF Word Cup tally||Overall pistol tally||Overall rifle tally||Overall shotgun tally|
In the history of the ISSF World Cup before 2019, India had won a total of 19 gold medals out of which only 11 came from rifle/pistol shooting while the others (8) were achieved in trap events. In 2019, India won 22 medals in only rifle and pistol.
The only downside to India’s rapid rise has been the shotgun events being left behind. India has not won a trap medal in the last two years.
Most successful Indians at ISSF World Cup
|Saurabh Chaudhary||10m air pistol, mixed team||7||6-0-1|
|Manu Bhaker||10m air pistol, mixed team||6||6-0-0|
|Jitu Rai||10 air pistol, 50m pistol||9||3-3-3|
|Apurvi Chandela||10m air rifle, mixed team||5||3-1-1|
|Divyansh Singh Panwar||10m air rifle, mixed team||4||2-1-1|
|Anjum Moudgil||10m air rifle, 50m rifle 3 positions||4||2-1-1|
|Sanjeev Rajput||10m air rifle, 50m rifle 3 positions||4||1-3|
In 2019, three Indian shooters – Elavenil Valarivan, Saurabh Chaudhary and Divyansh Singh Panwar – ended the year as No 1. Abhishek Verma and Saurabh Chaudhary swept all the four gold medals in 10m air pistol in the four World Cups.
The introduction of the mixed team event proved to be quite the boon for India as Manu Bhaker and Saurabh Chaudhary swept all the four gold medals in mixed air pistol in the World Cups this
Medals won by India at ISSF World Cup Finals
|Year||Overall ISSF Word Cup Final tally||Overall pistol tally||Overall rifle tally||Overall shotgun tally|
Like the ISSF World Championships, the multi-sport tournaments Asian Games and Commonwealth Games come once in four years and the last decade has seen Indian shooters get progressively better at that stage.
Medals won by India at ISSF World Championships
|Year||Overall ISSF Word Championship tally||Overall pistol tally||Overall rifle tally||Overall shotgun tally|
Medals won by India at Asian Games
|Year||Overall Asian Games tally||Overall pistol tally||Overall rifle tally||Overall shotgun tally|
There were no team events at the 2018 Asian Games, which makes India’s tally of nine medals (two gold, four silver and three bronze) all the more impressive.
Medals won by India at Commonwealth Games
|Year||Overall CWG tally||Overall pistol tally||Overall rifle tally||Overall shotgun tally|
India topped the medal tally at both the 2010 and 2018 Commonwealth Games. The 2010 CWG, which was held in India for the first time, marked an important time for many sports as the host nation poured resources in the infrastructure.
But it is only in the Commonwealth Games that the progression has been in reverse for Indian shooting. After 30 medals in 2010, the contingent finished third behind Australia and England in 2014. However it should be noted that there were pair events in 2010, which boosted the tally. In 2018, in keeping with the remarkable rise of the young shooters, India topped the table again.
What will 2020 bring, only time can tell. But with the depth and consistency of the Indian shooting contingent at present, the hope is far stronger than just hype.