SEVENTEEN-YEAR-OLD Ganemat Sekhon still remembers the day when her father Amrinder took her to New Moti Bagh Shooting Range in Patiala for the first time from their Zirakpur home in 2015. There, as her cousin, national-level shooter Indreshwar Singh handed her a double barrel gun, Ganemat’s first shot was followed by a fall due to the gun recoil. As the Punjab youngster became the first Indian female skeet shooter to win a medal at an ISSF World Championship where she won bronze at the women’s skeet event in the ISSF Junior World Championship in Sydney, Australia, on Tuesday, Ganemat was reminded of the incident by her father.
“My father and cousins would always talk about double barrel guns and I wanted to try this sport. When I started, I hit the first shot but fell two feet back after the gun recoiled. But the fact that skeet involved a moving target in opposite directions in outdoor conditions fascinated me. When I won the medal today, my father reminded me of that incident and we laughed. It was a tense final and as the conditions were windy, I missed double targets in the first round,” shared Ganemat, who studies in the XIIth standard at Vivek High School, Sector 38.
Since her great grandfather Captain Chattar Singh won royal shooting competitions in the 1940s and grandfather Mohinderpal Singh being a national-level shooter, the youngster always had an interest in shooting. Ganemat started skeet shooting in 2015 and won silver at the Senior National Championships in Pune in 2016 followed by a silver medal at last year’s nationals in New Delhi. The youngster shot the best score of 116 last month in the final selection trials but a score of 109 in the first trial meant that the youngster missed the CWG spot by .33 points.
“Chandigarh still lacks a fully automatic outdoor range. My school allowed me to leave at 11 am and I would travel to Patiala daily to train with my mother Puneet Sekhon. The national camp also gave me a chance to train under national foreign coach and 1994 Olympic gold medallist Ennio Falco and he told me to improve the barrel position and not care about a dip in scores at this age. Missing the CWG team was a disappointment but I will prepare for the Senior World Cup,” said the shooter.
Rio Olympian Mairaj Ahmad Khan, who became the first Indian to bag a quota place in skeet at the Olympics and also won silver at the ISSF World Cup in Rio de Janeiro prior to the Olympics, believes that this medal will give Ganemat self-belief and momentum. “I was not very young like Ganemat when I started shooting. I faced a lot of trouble getting my technique right at that time. Ganemat is training under both Ennio Falco and Piero Genga and she will benefit a lot from it. This medal will give Ganemat a lot of belief in herself that she can win at a bigger platform, too,” said Khan, who trains in Italy.