India's emerging sporting hub, Odisha, on Monday made its foray into shooting as the state government joined hands with Olympic medallist Gagan Narang to set up a 10m and 50m range at the Kalinga Stadium here. Also associated with the project is the Aditya Birla Group.
The facility is called the Odisha Aditya Birla-Gagan Narang Shooting High Performance Centre, adding to the much acclaimed hockey and athletics infrastructure of the state.
Further cementing Odisha's reputation as the sports capital of India and providing major boost to infrastructure in the state, Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik inaugurated three state-of-the-art sports facilities in Hinjilicut, Chatrapur and Bhubaneswar.
Khel Ratna Narang, who has been mentoring promising shooters for some years now while running the Gagan Narang Sports Promotion Foundation (GNSPF), was delighted with the development.
"Even before the 2012 Olympics (where he won a bronze medal) I wanted to be the agent of change. Change the way people perceive shooting sports in India," Narang said during the inauguration.
"I wanted to give them what I did not have. Today opening of the 10m range in Odisha is a massive milestone for all of us."
"We have conducted talent hunt programme here and I can say that this state has more talent than what meets the eye. 75 kids have been selected.
"The best thing about this facility is accessibility for able athletes and special programmes have been designed for them. It's the right time for start preparation for the 2028 Olympics," the 37-year-old champion shooter added.
Among other things, the facility will feature an air conditioned range with 22 targets (10 electronic targets and 12 electrical manual targets), training capacity for 60 shooters per day. The range will also be equipped with adequate weapons and consumables, besides performance analysis equipment.
CM Patnaik said, "This demonstrates our resolve to make Odisha the sporting capital of the country. We will be launching more grassroots development programme across all districts.
"With quality infrastructure, a new generation of world class athletes will emerge from the state in the next decade. It requires a lot of dedication, hard work and support system."
The sports facilities will have centrally air conditioned synthetic area, four badminton courts, 1 basketball/volleyball court, seating gallery with a capacity of 300, table tennis room, yoga room, fitness room, changing rooms with lockers, and three wooden floor badminton courts.
Students will be selected under the Odisha talent adoption programme.
National Rifle Association of India (NRAI) senior vice-president Kalikesh Narayan Singh Deo said the state federation has requested the chief minister to help allot a land for setting up an exclusive shooting range in the state.
"Shooting is the fastest growing sport in the country in many ways. We have beaten China and USA in number of gold medals in recent years. With Gagan's involvement, it will only increase in the sate of odisha," Deo said.
Also present during the programme were Aditya Birla Group Kumaramangalam Birla and Odisha's sports minister Tusharkanti Behera.