Not any more.
The sport came into prominence in the country after the silver-winning show by army marksman Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore in a double trap in 2004. However, at Tokyo, India will not see any army shooter.
No shooter from the Army Marksmanship Unit in Mhow (AMU) came even closer to winning the Tokyo quota, especially when India booked a record 15 berths for the Games.
On Friday, the continuity broke when armyman Gurpreet Singh finished 6th in the men’s 25m rapid fire pistol event at the ISSF World Cup in Delhi.
The World Cup offers ranking points, and the gold medallist stood a chance to win a Tokyo quota. However, Gurpreet failed to grab the last opportunity to qualify for the Games.
Other than Rathore’s silver in 2004 and his participation in 2008 Beijing Games, Vijay Kumar’s silver in the London Games in 2012 brought glory for AMU and the country. In 2016 Rio de Janeiro Games, the centre was represented by Gurpreet and Jitu Rai in pistol and Chain Singh in rifle category.
After failing to win a quota in 2016, Vijay retired from the army in 2017. The onus of maintaining the tradition fell on Rai, Gurpreet and Chain. But after their below-par show at the Rio Games, the trio couldn’t lift their game and struggled with their form.
Since 2016, the AMU also failed to keep their bench ready, as other than a short stint by pistol shooter Om Prakash Mitharwal, no army shooter could even find their spots in the Indian team.
Arrival of teenagers like Saurabh Chaudhary, Aishwary Pratap Singh, Divyansh Singh Panwar and some consistent show by new shooters like Abhishek Verma and Anish Bhanwala made it difficult for the army shooters to catch up with the rising scores in the rifle-pistol categories.