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At 15, shooting sensation Shapath Bharadwaj hits the bull’s eye

When Shapath Bharadwaj takes his guard tomorrow to defend his double trap title in the ISSF Junior World Cup Shotgun event in Porpetto , the whole shotgun fraternity will have a close eye on him.

Shapath has a meteoric rise in his sport in the last 2-3 years. From being a sensational young player, he has become the youngest shotgun shooter to make into the Indian senior team at the age of 14. He even made history by becoming the youngest player in the world to enter the ISSF World Cup Senior Finals in May 2017 at Larkana in Cyprus.  Though he finished 6th in the final and 4th in the qualifiers of the competition with a third highest score of 135, Shapath Bharadwaj won millions of hearts and more importantly thousands of hopes for many international medals in the years to come.

Shapath’s professional training in shooting started in 2014 when he was 12 years old. But he had an attraction for big guns from early childhood. His elder brother Shrey Bharadwaj took up shooting and used to practice in weekends in a range in Noida. Shapath, who is very close to his brother, used to persuade his parents to accompany Shrey to the range. He was only 9 years of age at that time but used to watch minutely Shrey’s shooting. His passion did not go unnoticed and his parents Swati Sharma and S Raju decided to give him a chance.

Interested in guns from his boyhood

Shapath was just a young boy at that time but never let that opportunity go by. He was into the hit and try method, sometimes targeting right at the bull’s eye and sometimes falling short. But his interest and passion was replicated in each of his shots. His parents were convinced that their younger son has loads of talent. But being a middle-class family it was difficult for them to purchase guns and ammunition for training. So Shapath’s father thought of an alternative method.  “I requested a carpenter in Meerut to fashion a dummy gun by which my son could practice the moves of firing. It was like dry firing. But the man was very scared as he thought that he would be caught making guns. It took almost 1 month to convince him and ultimately he did make the dummy gun,” says S Raju.

The moves of firing were clear for Shapath but often he had to borrow guns and cartridges from friends or near relatives for actual training. And with a borrowed gun, Shapath Bharadwaj won his first shooting medal in the form of a bronze at the 33rd North Zone Shooting Championship in New Delhi.  After this beginning, local conquers continued here and there. But it was at the age of 12 in the August of 2014, when he won the Uttarakhand State Championships, his parents did not delay in introducing formal training for him.

Shapath’s parents approached former World No 1 shooter and Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna Award winner Ronjon Sodhi with the achievements of their ward. Impressed by his talent, Sodhi was quick to respond. He promised all possible support to Shapath and also requested former trap shooter Yoginder Pal Singh to coach him. “He was just any kid interested in shooting but as we started training, he showed perseverance and dedication towards the sport and that made me easier to nurture him,” recollects his coach, Yogi. Along with his coach’s constant support, Shapath put in all the hardwork and his dedication to become one of the best shooters in India today. As analysed by Yogi, “A lot of shooters don’t realize the importance of homework before actual shooting. But Shapath, at such a young age, thinks and works off the range to be good on range.”

Shapath with his friends in school

Along with his range activities, he balances his studies as well. Shapath Bharadwaj is a student of St Mary’s Academy of Meerut and is presently a student of standard 10. His attendance in school might be very less because of his selection in national team, but he is utterly serious about his studies. And with the constant support from his school teachers and friends, Shapath never lags behind in studies. As fondly remembered by his mother, “Shapath is an obedient and a disciplined child from the beginning. He loves to relax by playing games on X box or watching History Channel or sometimes even reads books. But as he does not get much time these days, whenever he has time he prefers covering his school course.”

Till 2015 Shapath did not own a gun. But that did not stop him from performing impressively in domestic tournaments. And finally on 6th June 2015, a Kreighoff double trap gun costing around 7000 Euros arrived from Germany for which Shapath had been long waiting for. He knew that the time had come when he could go outdoor as per his wishes and practice. There would be no interference between him and his target. The practice sessions would be entirely his as he would be seeing the shots breaking or missing the target.

Shapath with his gold medal in 13th International Grandpix Porpetto, Italy 2016

Then came 2016, the year in which Shapath Bharadwaj graduated from being a junior champion to get selected in the national team of senior shooters. In the 60th National Shooting Championship in Rajasthan, he got the 2nd rank in the Juniors and 3rd rank in the Seniors. Thus his qualification in the senior team was only a matter of time. He ended up finishing second in the senior trials in December 2016, setting his sight at the ISSF Senior World Cup. As he repayed his faith by finishing impressively in the World Cup, Shapath Bharadwaj now has become the country’s youngest athlete to figure in the government’s Target Olympic Podium (TOP) scheme.

The Sports Ministry has launched the TOP Scheme with the specific aim of supporting medal prospects for next Olympics. The Committee is chaired by ace shooter and Olympic gold medallist Abhinav Bindra. Shapath has been selected along with 45 elite athletes in this ambitious project of the government.  

“After this selection, Shapath will be supported entirely by the government and that has reduced a lot of worries for us,” said Swati Sharma. Shapath is now currently ranked number 19 in the world. His success is a teamwork where everyone-starting from his parents, brother, coach, friends- has contributed. But signing off with his father’s words, “Yes, we all did whatever we could do. But it was entirely Shapath who made it possible….his maturity, strength, composed attitude and his way of tackling situations made him what he is at such a young age.”   

Achievements of Shapath Bharadwaj 
International
S.N. Year Place Name of Event Performance Outcome
 

1

April 28 to May 8, 2017 Larnaka, Cyprus ISSF World Cup Scored 135/150, Topped 22 Shot Shoot-off among four shooters. Record of playing the Final of ISSF World Cup at the age of 15.
2 March 17 to 27, 2017 Acapulco, Mexico ISSF World Cup ( Sr) Scored 128/150 Obtained 12th Rank
3 Feb 2 to March 4, 2017 New Delhi, India ISSF World Cup ( Sr) Playing with Ace shooters of the world he scored 132/150 Obtained 10th Rank
4 July 20 to July 25, 2016 Porpetto, Italy 8th International Jr Shotgun Cup & 13th International Grand Prix Scored 139/150

( Highest score of the Grand Prix and highest score by any Jr player in and outside India).

Gold Medal

( Individual)

Gold Medal ( Team)

New National Record of Jr

5 July 24, 2016 Porpetto, Italy Champion of Champions Match Gold and Silver medalists of three matches of world cup in Germany, 8th International Jr Shotgun Cup, Finland and13th International Jr  Grand Prix,  Italy played in the match. Obtained 5th Rank
6 May 22 to May 29, 2016 Orimattila, Finland 8th International Jr Shotgun Cup Scored 128/150

( scored highest among team members)

Won Silver medal          ( Team)
           
7 April 29 to May 6, 2016 Suhl, Germany ISSF Jr World Cup Scored 125/150 Obtained 14th Rank

First International Match 

National/ State/ Zone
S.N. Year Place Name of the Event Performance Outcome
 

1.

Nov 14 to 26, 2016 OASES Shooting Range, Jaipur      ( Rajasthan) 60th National Shooting Championship Scored 136/150

In Qualifying Rounds

2nd National Rank in Juniors( Age 12 to 21)

3rd National Rank in Seniors( Age 21 and above)

 

2.

October 2016 Dr Karni Singh Shooting Ranges 36th North Zone Shooting Championship Scored 124/150 Won Silver Medal( Sr)
 

3.

August 2016 Jaspal Rana Shooting Range, Dehradun 15thUttarakhand State Shooting Championship Played in Junior and Senior categories Won Silver ( Individual) in Jr

Won Gold ( Team) Jr

Won Gold( team) Sr

4 Dec 21-23, 2015 OASES Shooting Range, Jaipur      ( Rajasthan) 59th National Shooting Championship Scored 125/150 and attained 5th Rank.  

National Ranking 5th.

 

5 Dec 2, 2015 New Motibagh Gun Club, Patiala (Punjab) Shotgun Open Challenge Scored 119/150 and Played Final Won the title and Received Prize Money Award of Rs 15,000/-
 

6

August 11 to 16, 2015 Jaspal Rana Shooting Range, Dehradun 14th Uttarakhand State Shooting Championship Played in Junior and Senior categories Silver ( Ind) Jr

Gold ( Team) Jr

Gold ( Team) Sr

7 Feb 5, 2015 Kerala Police Academy Range, Thrissur 35th National Games Scored 110

(22,21,24,22,21)

Attained 16th rank while playing with country`s ace double trap shooters
8 November 27, 2014 New Motibagh Gun Club, Patiala (Punjab) 58th National Shooting Championship Scored 103

(18,21,22,21,21)

Attained 8th position and selected for Natioanl Team Squad at the age of 12 .
9 October 10 and 11, 2014 New Motibagh Gun Club, Patiala (Punjab) 24th All India G.V.Mavlankar Shooting Championship( Pre Nationals) Played in MQS Category Qualified to participate in National Shooting Championship
 

10

August 12 to 17, 2014 Jaspal Rana Shooting Ranges, Dehradun 13th Uttarakhand State Shooting Championship Played in Jr and Sr Category Won Gold ( Ind) Jr,

Gold ( team) Jr

Silver ( Team) Sr

11 December 21 to 24, 2013 Dr Karni Singh Shooting Ranges, , New Delhi 57th National Shooting Championship -2013 Participated Secured 27th Rank in Double Trap ( Jr) event.
 

12

November 23 to 30, 2013 Dr Karni Singh Shooting Ranges, , New Delhi 33rd North Zone Shooting Championship Scored 29/60 Won Bronze Medal ( Individual)

 

First medal of his shooting career

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

About Poulomi Kundu

PoulomiKundu started her career in 2000 as a freelance journalist in Hindustan Times. Soon after she was selected an intern in Zee News, Kolkata. After her post- graduation in English, Poulomi joined the leading television production house of eastern India, Rainbow Productions. She was a journalist in Khas Khobor, a Bengali news magazine programme in Doordarshan and also headed the post production department of another programme, Khas Kolkata. In 2004, Poulomi moved to Delhi as a creative writer in an advertising agency, Brand Stewards Pvt. Ltd. In 2005, she again shifted her base for a better opportunity and that in Mumbai. There she got the job in Raa Media Pvt Ltd. as an associate director of two programmes for Doordarshan-Yuva and Paisa Vasool. In the meantime, she also wrote features in DNA as a freelancer. Poulomi directs promotional videos, develops scripts for films for Corporate and NGOs. But an ardent sports lover, Poulomi always had an urge to contribute somewhere in the field of sports. Her love for sports started from an early age when she played gully cricket and football for local teams. Academics and professional hazards sometimes took her away from her passion, but it never died in her. She always nurtured the never-ending dream. So she materialized her dream in the form of ‘SPORTSAVOUR’. It is an online sports portal that serves sports with the tagline ‘For the indigenous, unconventional, unknown’.

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