From Rome to Moscow
The memoirs of an Olympic trap shooter

From Rome to Moscow The memoirs of an Olympic trap shooter

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Item Code: IMH03
Author: Karni Singh of Bikaner
Publisher: Munshiram Manoharlal Publishers Pvt. Ltd.
Language: English
Edition: 1982
ISBN: 812150161x
Pages: 352 (with 51 ills)
Cover: HardCover
Other Details 6.5" x 10.0"
Weight 740 gm

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 shooters.

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 country.

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 prizes.

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 trap gun.

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 Birth of Clay Pigeon in India
    Preparation for Rome
    What is Clay Pigeon?

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


  1. How to Shoot "100 Straight"
  2. The Second Shot in Traps
  3. Eliminating Variables
  4. Eye Training for Fast Movement
  5. Shooting with both Eyes Open & Determining the "Master Eye"
  6. Going to Sleep in Sports
  7. Mind Over Matter in Clay Pigeon Shooting
  8. Timing in Clay Pigeon Shooting
  9. Deliberately Disturbing a Shooter
  10. The Effect of Winds on Clay Pigeon Shooting
  11. Patterning Guns
  12. Setting an Olympic Trap Range Scientifically
  13. Phonopulls
  14. Soft Recoil
  15. Change of Cartridges
  16. The Effects of Jet Lag and Jet Travel on the Eyes
  17. Smooth Swings
  18. Hand Exercises
  19. Guidance for Rough Gunfits for Traps and Skeet
  20. Shotgun Bores
  21. Winds to Order
  22. Changing Your Timing in Traps


  1. The Ten Commandments of Safety
  2. International Shooting Union Champions (Open Class) 1900 to 1979
  3. Karni Singh's Winning Scores at National Championships
  4. Karni Singh - A Biographical Sketch
  5. Rajyashree Kumari - A Biographical Sketch
  6. Letter of Congratulations from President of India, Dr. Rajendra Prasad, Dated October 1960
  7. Letter of Congratulations from the Prime Minister of India, Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, Dated 12th October 1960
  8. Letter of Congratulations from Home Minister of India, Shri G.B. Pant, Dated 17th September 1960
  9. Letter of Congratulations from the Prime Minister of India, Smt. Indira Gandhi, Dated 6th November 1969

Some Important Addresses
Glossary of Important Words for Shooting

Sample Pages

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