About the Book:
Unlike other sports, shooting sport is a specialised game required more than normal intellectual acumen. Yet until very recently no attempts seem to have been made in India to encourage the best available shooting talent in the country. Therefore this is a modest attempt to write and emphasize the importance of the shooting sport and its development for the guidance of young aspirants to national and international championships.
The book contains memories of an internationally reputed sportsman and covers 21 years of international clay pigeon shooting in which the author himself took part and represented his country in five Olympics, five World Shooting Championships and many Asian Shooting Championships. The 38th World Shooting Championship in Cairo in 1962 remains his best performance when he tied for the Gold Medal of the World with a score of 295/300. So far this remains the only World Medal India has ever won in Shooting sport generally.
All lovers of the sport particularly those, young budding shooting aspiring to participate in international events, will find this book interesting.
About the Author:
Dr. Karni Singh born in the most famous ruling family of Bikaner, had a distinguished career in St. Stephen's College in Delhi and was awarded Ph.D. by the Bombay University for his thesis "The Relations of the House of Bikaner with the Central Power from 1465 to 1949" Rarely one comes across a sportsman who also is a writer, an artist, a pilot and a politician. He was elected as a Member of Parliament from Bikaner Constituency as an Independent first in 1952 and retained his seat during the next four successive elections.
THERE are not many sports in which India has leached world standard but
one of them is Clay Pigeon Shooting. On this field of sport, Dr. Karni Singh
has written an absorbing book 'From Rome to Moscow' which is his second
publication. Dr. Karni Singh needs no introduction. He belongs to the Royal
family of Bikaner and was a Member of Parliament continuously from 1952 to
1977. His outstanding service to the nation, however, is in the field of shoot-
ing Trap or Skeet. India today occupies pride of place in these sports, because
of his achievements in this field. He has represented our country since 1960
in the Olympics when India made its debut in' Clay Pigeon Shooting. He has
also represented the country in World Championships and several Asian
Shooting Championships. He holds national records in Traps and Skeet. He
specialises in Clay Pigeon shooting in which he reached the zenith in 1962 at
Cairo when he tied with Mr. Zimenkov of Russia for the Gold Medal.
These memoirs of Dr. Karni Singh are divided into three parts, the first
dealing with the history of this sport, the second dealing with his experiences
and suggestions and the third dealing with the rules and other information on
Traps and Skeet. This book, I am sure, will arouse people's interest in target
shooting and other fire-arm sports and will be of immense use to lovers of this
sport, The suggestions made by the author will help Indian shooters, like his
own daughter Rajyashree who is following her father's footsteps, in improving
their standard. The book is full of lively descriptions of many competitions
and reminiscences and makes very interesting reading.
DURING the last 20 years, immediately on the completion 0 f each major
International event in which I participated, I had written an article in
the shape of a booklet for circulation to my friends and which was published
in various magazines including the Indian Rifleman and sometimes even
for magazines abroad. I have therefore relied heavily on these contem-
porary articles for accuracy. While every attempt has been made to vouchsafe
accuracy in regard to the names and scores printed in this work, neverthe-
less, in spite of all efforts, there is always a possibility of an inadvertent
mistake creeping in for which the author begs forgiveness of his fellow
The idea of writing this book came to me some time in 1975 when I had
more or less decided to retire from the Clay Pigeon Shooting sport. I had
written this book with primarily the Indian shooter in view. Therefore many
foreign experienced shooters who may read this book may find some of the
suggestions elementary, nonetheless they could be of some use to shooters in
my own country. Furthermore, I have tried to chronologically arrange Clay
Pigeon shooting in the world for the last 20 years, filling the various gaps in
competitions which I did not personally attend, by mentioning the important
scores, wherever available, as also the events and progress of the Clay Pigeon
shooting in my own country.
Primarily this book is basically a story of the various Olympics, World
Shooting Championships and Asian Games, and other Shooting Champion-
ships in which I took part. So as not to detract from the smooth flow of
these memoirs, I have divided the book into three parts. The first part deals
with the story of this sport as I saw it with my own eyes in a chronologically
arranged story form. The second part deals with some of the thought-provok-
ing ideas that I have stumbled upon. I am sure that some of these may be
liked by some shooters but may equally prove inapplicable with others.
However, the Book 11 should be of some use to Indian shooters and with
this intention these notes have been compiled. In the manuscript, Book III
contains TSU Trap and Skeet Rules as also other data like World Shooting
and Asian Shooting Championships scores in which competitions I was not
able to attend, but not ail of them will find their way in the published book
due to shortage of space.
I do not at any time claim to be an expert either in gun fitting or marks-
manship, other than the fact that in my two decades of shooting 1 have had
some lucky years. These memoirs and experiences I wish to share with my
shooting friends all around the world, whose company I have enjoyed more
than anything else, and what a wonderful group of people they are, no
matter from which corner of the world they come from.
The photographs published in this book are mostly taken by me. An
attempt has been made to publish as many pictures as possible of the top
shooters of the world so that their names can become well-known in every
More than anything else, I have written this book for my daughter
Rajyashree who started shooting at the tender age of 7 and was on the
Indian team in Air Rifle shooting at the first Asian Shooting Championships
at Tokyo in 1967 at the age of 14, and who finished eighth in the World at
the San Sebastian World Shooting Championships in 1969 in the Women's
Clay Pigeon event when she was only 16. Rajyashree and I share a great
love for Clay Pigeon. This book is therefore written for people like her who
share our love of this wonderful sport.
I have not attempted to delve unnecessarily into the theory of shooting
nor have I made attempts to go into the technicalities of gun fitting, ballistics,
proofing of guns, construction of cartridges, variety of chokes and what have
you, other than what were barely necessary. I have assumed that most of
this information is already available to knowledgeable shooters. However, I
would strongly recommend the following books for those who may seek this
information and which under any circumstances would be far more authori-
tative than whatever I may be able to put down in my memoirs mainly due
to lack of facilities available to a layman in India in these fields. I particu-
larly recommend to my own countrymen and team-mates the book written
by the late Sqn. Ldr. S.Z.A. Zaidi which covers all the theory that any Indian
shooter may require. Additionally, I would recommend the following books:
(i) The Shotgunners by Col. Charles Askins, published by Stackpole Co.,
Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, USA.
(ii) Clay Pigeon Marksmanship by Percy Stanbury and G .L. Carlisle,
published by Herbert Jenkins, London.
(iii) The Art of Shooting by Charles Lancaster, published by MCCor
Qudale & Co. Ltd., London, also Lancaster & Co. (Stephen Grant
and Joseph Lang Ltd.)
(iv) Skeet & How to Shoot it, by Bob Nichols, published by G.P. Putnams
Sons, New York.
(v) Field Skeet and Trap Shooting, by Chapel, published by A.S. Barnes
& Co. Inc., New York and Thomas Yoseloff Ltd., London.
(vi) Your 12 bore Gun, by Sqn. Ldr. S.Z.A. Zaidi, published by Sagar
Publications, New Delhi.
In my work two things may stand out more vividly to foreign readers due
to their repetition, viz. our continued dependence on imported cartridges and
the fact that India is a poor country. It is important that these matters are
viewed from the proper perspective.
Firstly India has taken gigantic strides in industrialisation and military
hardware. Our Scientists, Doctors and Engineers are daily making a name,
in different corners of the world in the field of research. We have nuclear
know-how and have already joined a very exclusive club with only a handful
of the top nations of the world with this capability, We have also put
satellites into space. Our factories are turning out Jet fighters daily and a
variety of tanks, to mention a few. We make missiles, Jet planes, cars,
Railway engines and you name it. Our autoloading version of the 7.62 Army
rifle malfunctions far less than most of the imported ones. We make millions
of cartridges for 12 bore each year and still the demand is mounting in the
country. Our 12 bore field guns are cheap and popular. All that and more
we have achieved, but where the rub comes in is why can't India make pro-
per trap ammunition? The reason as far as I can see is that the demand for
specialised ammunition is so small that the Ordnance factories can't be both-
ered •to divert their valuable attention from military hardware to such
'trifling' matters. So far cartridges can only be made in Government Ord-
nance factories in India. Perhaps when some day it is possible for private
industry to take up manufacture of cartridges I have no doubt that India
will in a very short time be able to develop a cartridge for Olympic traps. If
we can make a jet plane why can't we make a 12 bore trap load cartridge?
The question is purely of priorities.
THE interest in Clay Pigeon as an organised National and International sport,
is of a more recent origin, although Clay Pigeon shot, by no hard and
fast rules, has been indulged in by shooters for over half a century or more in
India. In fact, I remember in my childhood days, that Clay Pigeon was shot
as if it were a means of brushing up one's shooting before the Shikar Season
began. At Mount Abu in Rajasthan, Clay Pigeon was indulged in at Bikaner
House as a competition, and prizes were distributed to the winners. Similarly,
in Bikaner, at Lallgarh Palace my late grandfather Maharaja Ganga Singhji
and my late father Maharaja Sadul Singhji shot Clay Pigeon from a very high
tower in which I also had some opportunity to shoot. In England even today
high tower targets are shot like high flying pheasants and winners are awarded
When I was l3 years old my father gave me my first 32 Bore double
barrel shotgun by Holland & Holland. It was a rare calibre gun and larger
than a '410 but smaller than a 28 bore. With this weapon I learnt my initial
clay pigeon and field shooting.
In Mount Abu my father trained me very carefully at singles and doubles
overhead clay pigeon shooting. Little did he reatise then that this precise
training he had begun to impart to me when I was just a boy was to hold me
in good stead in the field of world sports two decades later.
Those days in the late 30s, and I am sure even earlier at the turn of the
century, shotguns and rifles largely in use in India were manufactured by
some of the world famous British firms of Holland & Holland, Westley
Richards and Purdey to mention just a few. The Bikaner Royal Family fancied
the Holland & Holland weapons and it was therefore almost customary for
every generation to grow up shooting a Holland & Holland rifle and shotgun.
I was therefore no exception, and my 32 bore shotgun was therefore not
surprisingly a Holland & Holland. Being kindly disposed towards birds and
animals from childhood and a pure vegetarian by personal choice as also a
teetotaller and non-smoker to boot, it was no surprise to me or to my friends
that sooner or later my interest would be lured to the target sport like trap
shooting rather than shikar (hunting). I remember at the age of 13, I fired for
the first time on living game and shot 3 partridges under my father's guidance.
I could not sleep all night, feeling a sense of guilt. However, I came out of
this and began to enjoy hunting as much as anybody else. I was soon given a
28 bore shotgun by my grandfather, also made by Holland & Holland, and
started bird shooting such as Duck, Imperial Sand Grouse, Quail, etc. for
which Bikaner was always famous. Among animals, I shot a dozen Panthers,
4 Tigers, a couple of Sambhars, 3 Black Bucks, 5 Chinkaras (the last one in
1937) and 3 or 4 Cheetals, not to count innumerable wild boars. All this form
of sport has never given me a minute of satisfaction, as has done a successful
day in the far corners of the world shooting Trap or Skeet for my country. I
have detested shooting the deer species and the Gajner preserve 20 miles from
Bikaner, upto recently our family property, is full of Black Bucks and
Chinkaras to this day. The Black Buck preserve in Chappar about 150 kms.
from Bikaner, over which my father and later I had exclusive shooting rights,
was converted into a Black Buck Sanctuary on my request to the Government,
when I waived my rights and requested the Government to make it a Black
Buck Sanctuary which it is today. While it was in my hands we scrupulously
protected the lovely antelopes.
In later years I inherited a pair of 20 bore side by side Holland & Holland
Royal model guns from my father. They were pieces of post-war art and can
be compared to works of art in any field. But I realised very soon that if I
were to stay in the Clay Pigeon sport and win a few prizes, I needed a proper
In 1952 I had for the first time attended the First All India National
Shooting Championships at New Delhi. Having done a lot of bird shooting, I
thought that clay pigeon shooting, which was one of the items on the pro-
gramme, would be a 'push over' but the opposite was the truth. I just could not
do better than 5 out of 25. The acid test came when I had to stand 16 yards
behind the trap machine and shoot going away targets. The veteran Baba
Harbans Singh Bedi, who shot 12 or 15 out of 25, was the National Champion
followed in later years by Devi Singh and others. My own score at trap was
about 5 or 6 out of 25 at that meet.
From 1952 to 1959 I shot at various National Championships only to find
myself the worst Clay Pigeon shooter in India and in fact almost gave up the
sport in disgust. I did, however, win the National Championships a couple of
times at Bangalore and Delhi with the Big Bore Rifle and once in Rapid Fire
Pistols also, but never made a mark in the shotgun sport. Being a shotgun man
essentially, my interest in this branch of shooting never really waned. Finally, I
had an opportunity to visit USA with my wife when I went round the world
in 1959. Dr. J.P. Kazickas of New York, a very good friend of ours, whom I
had the pleasure of meeting in Kashmir in 1958, is perhaps the one man to
whom I owe my eternal gratitude, for it was through his help that I was put in
touch with the famous Warren Page of Field & Stream Magazine of USA. We
had gone to the Camp Fire Shooting Club outside New York City, and there I
met Mr. Page for the first time. He lent me his model 50 Winchester Trap
Gun and I found that this automatic trap gun with its single sighting plane was
infinitely more easy to shoot clay pigeons with, and with which gun I shot 12
out of 25, which was really a high Score for me. From that day onwards I
started my interest in Clay Pigeon shooting in real earnest and I bought a model
50 Winchester Trap Gun from Abercrombie and Fitch of New York City as
suggested by Mr. Page, and when I came home, I gave the gun a real work-
out and my scores soon started improving.
Until 1959 clay pigeon was more or less shot on the British-American lines.
One machine was mounted in a green target house and 5 shooters fired alter-
natively, each shooter firing 5 shots in succession and then shifting positions.
We were also not allowed to shoulder the gun at that time before calling for the
target. In America, shouldering the gun is allowed and is in fact important. We
insisted on this rule being followed in India also and which was permitted in
1959-60 for the first time. There were no cartridges available in India for clay
pigeon shooting exclusively and secondly none of us knew that anywhere in the
world special ammunition was available only for clay pigeon trap and skeet!
Our ignorance was supreme. I was lucky to find some Remington trap loads at
Hassanand Hemandas of Bombay in 1959. On coming to Bikaner I found
fairly large stocks of 12 bore ammunition belonging to my grandfather and
late father with numbers from 2 to 10 (7t we now know is the best choice for
the trap shooters). I built myself a rudimentary gauge to measure the maximum
height of a target thereby computing whether the given target required to be
shot "above the top", "on it" or "below it". Most of the cartridges were
"hang firing" due to age, so a gun expert changed the primers and thereafter
80 per cent of the cartridges did shoot normally. Incidentally at this stage The
Bikaner Clay Pigeon range in its rudimentary form had been laid out in early
1960. At the 7th Bikaner (Rajasthan) Championships held at Bikaner just be-
fore the 6th National Shooting Championships we had shot traps as well as
introducing ISU Skeet in India for the first time in a ccmpetition. This com-
petition was largely attended by shooters from all over India.
The Background History of the Bikaner Family
The Rome Olympics 1960 - India's Debut in Clay Pigeon
The Oslo World Shooting Championship 1961
The Cairo World Shooting Championship 1962
The Tokyo Pre-Olympics, 1963
The Tokyo Olympics, 1964
The 39th World Shooting Championship, Wiesbaden, 1966
The First Asian Shooting Championship, Tokyo, 1967
The World Shooting Championships, Bologna (Italy), 1967
The Mexico Olympics
The World Shooting Championship, San Sebastian (Spain), October 1969
Clay Pigeon at Second Asian Shooting Championship, Seoul, 1971
The Olympic Games, Munich, 1972
The 7th Asian Games, Tehran, 1974
The Third Asian Shooting Championships, Kuala Lumpur (Malaysia), 1975
The Moscow Olympic Games 1980
The Weish and British Grand Prixs 1981
Some Important Addresses
Glossary of Important Words for Shooting
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