At the Sydney Olympics shooting range on Wednesday, as 16-year-old Karnal shooter Muskan Bhanwala won the gold medal in the women’s 25 M Rapid Fire pistol event in the ISSF junior World Cup, the youngster was cheered by her younger brother and recently crowned 25M Rapid Fire Pistol world junior champion Anish Bhanwala. While Anish had won his second World Cup medal, it was Muskan’s maiden medal in a ISSF World Cup .
“I started shooting three months after Anish started 10M pistol shooting. So that makes me junior to him in terms of shooting. He was into modern pentathlon and showed interest in a lot of sports but I always thought about my studies. When my father Jagpal Bhanwala borrowed a pistol for him to shoot at a range in a school in Karnal, Anish would tell me about his scores everyday. Perhaps it made me dream about shooting too and I would accompany him to the range. We have talked about shooting almost every day and today when I won the gold medal, I knew Anish would be the most happiest of the Indian shooting team,” shared an emotional Muskaan, who pipped China’s Qin Sihang by one point with a score of 35 in the final.
The brother-sister duo would start with 10 M pistol event at the SBS School Range in Karnal initially, but Muskan later shifted her focus solely to 25 M Rapid fire events. Father Jagpal initially bought the duo only one .177 calibre pistol for 10 M pistol events in August 2014 to train at the range and the youngsters would wait for their turn at the range.
It was only in 2016 that Anish and Muskan got a separate .22 calibre pistol for 25 M Rapid Fire pistol followed by individual .777 calibre pistol last year. While Anish won the junior world title in 10 M pistol event in last year’s world cup in Germany, Muskan made her strides at the national level by winning the silver medal in 25 M sports pistol event behind Heena Sidhu.
She also bagged the junior title in the same event and a fourth place finish in 10 M Air Pistol event at the National Shooting Championships in 2016. Last year, Muskan finished at fourth place in Junior World Cup in Germany.
“We shifted from Karnal to Faridabad due to both Anish and Muskan as her interest in shooting also grew. In the earlier nationals, Muskan would always worry about Anish as he was younger to her. But when Anish would win more medals, she would always keep his medals in her bag. We got them one gun worth Rs 135,000 in 2014 before getting them two more guns in 2016. When Anish started taking interest in 25 M Rapid fire event, she would observe him closely and told me that she also want to try it,” shared the proud father, who is a lawyer and an agriculturist.
Before the Junior World Cup, Anish had to appear for his two CBSE Standard X exams after returning from ISSF World Cup in Mexico and Muskan, who is studying in the medical stream in XII, helped the younger sibling in studies. “Whenever they come home after training, they talk about who hit how many targets and sometimes, these discussions stretch to more than three hours.
Muskan got 10 CGPA in her tenth exams. Anish studies only when he gets time and also acts as Muskan’s coach in shooting. But when it comes to studies, Anish takes guidance from her sister. She sat with him for a whole day prior to Anish’s exams. Bus Studies ke mamle main dant khata hai Muskan se,” shared Poonam, mother of the siblings.”