Young gun ace Rudrankksh Patil follows in Bindra’s footsteps


Rudrankksh Patil was concerned during official training ahead of his World Cup match. The inner 10s just didn’t come as consistently as they did during the training days before landing in Cairo. Initially, the 18-year-old thought it could be a problem with his technique. He made adjustments, but nothing seemed to work.

While grabbing his weapon, the 10-meter air rifle gunner realized that his pistol was vibrating and was not properly seated in the trunk. The screws on the barrel weight that controls the recoil system had come loose, affecting the accuracy of his shots. The weapon is so carefully calibrated and even minor changes can lead to big variations on the target. Despite the relief that there was nothing wrong with his technique, he didn’t have a practice session to retest his weapon before his match.

“Both mine and Kiran’s (Ankush Jadhav) weapons had similar issues, maybe the screws got loose while traveling. There was an increase in vibration, affecting the accuracy of my shots. I was just lucky to notice it,” says Rudrankksh.

“The coaches helped fix the weapon, but I couldn’t sleep all night. There was no time to practice and check. The next day we had a match.”

Kiran finished first in qualifying and his first series score of 105.6 calmed Rudrankksh’s nerves. “It was such a relief to see his gun now working properly.”

When it was his turn to fire in the next relay, Rudrankksh’s first card was a solid 105.8. It set the tone for a brilliant round. He topped the 60-shot qualifier with a high score of 633.9.

The 18-year-old maintained his form in the rankings round and the final, where he came from behind, beating Italian Danilo Sollazzo 17-13. By becoming world champion, Rudrankksh emulated his inspiration and the gold medalist of the Beijing Olympics, Abhinav Bindra.

Like Bindra, Rudrankksh also likes to test himself in unfamiliar situations. He spends a lot of time experimenting with his weapon and trying it out in training. At the recent National Games, his gun also went a bit wrong on match day.

“Normally these are high-end weapons and as a shooter you just don’t want to tinker with them. It’s too technical and if we need to change settings, we call in business experts. But it’s just a machine and anything can go wrong every day,” said his coach Ajit Patil.

“What sets Rudrankksh apart is that he is so eager to know every part of his gun, all about shooting, different techniques. He will continue to research until he is satisfied. During training, he will do experiments with the weapon and see how it works,” said Patil, one of India’s top shooting coaches.

For someone who was so tired of shooting that he initially did not return to the shooting range for six months, Rudrankksh is chasing his dream of winning an Olympic medal.

“I love to travel and that’s why I do my best in every race so that I get selected. What I also like to do is experiment with weapons. I usually work on that all day long.”

During the pandemic for a year and a half, when he trained alone in a range, he immersed himself in gaining knowledge about the sport. “It was lonely, exhausting and sometimes irritating. But I worked on my game, did a lot of research, participated in online competitions and slowly I saw the improvement.”

“I follow a lot of shooters, you can learn from every player. You look at their techniques, equipment and how some of them maintain such high scores. The preparation they do before matches, how they react after a bad shot, how they control a match. Abhinav sir, Gagan (Narang) sir have done so many experiments, they made it easy for us.”

Rudrankksh has carefully charted his course, whether it be deciding whether to train with Ajit Patil or request him to move from Kolhapur to Thane, or touch base with Bindra’s German coach Heinz Reinkemeier. Patil and his coach have been to Germany twice and are going to that country from Thursday for a 10-day camp.

“He learns how to handle this advanced equipment, the adjustments you can make, testing pellets, etc. He will need that knowledge in the future,” says coach Patil.

Rudrankksh only got his first big break last year, winning silver at the World Junior Championships. He was soon selected for the World Cups in Baku and Cairo. Despite not winning a medal, he continued to work hard and was rewarded with his first major win.

“Competitions are like spaces of boxes that you have to put in the right places. There are only one or two mysterious boxes that you have to create space for and you have to be a good carpenter.”

Rudrankksh has carved out the space for one mysterious box – world championships. Finding space for the other – Olympics – will be the biggest challenge.



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