Oct. 15, 2002
Senior Abhijeet Konduskar found his mark as a member of the Ohio State rifle team. Twice the smallbore rifle champion of the Western Intercollegiate Rifle Conference (WIRC), Konduskar began his interest in guns as a child.
“I used to love to play with guns, toys and stuff when I was a little bit younger,” Konduskar said. “So I said to my dad that I wanted to buy a gun. My dad said, ‘you cannot just buy a gun, it is very dangerous, so if you want to really know how to do it, you have to go out and learn it.’ He had a friend who was an international shooter, and he asked me to go to him and learn how to shoot. Then maybe he would buy me a gun.”
After winning high shooting honors in India, Konduskar looked to improve his shooting abilitites.
“After winning my Junior National Gold in India, my father thought it was very difficult to make progress in India,” Konduskar said. “My father said it would be better to go somewhere outside (of India), maybe the United States or some other country. We decided to check out a lot of countries, the United Kingdom, Australia and the United States. I decided to come to the U.S. and I chose Ohio State because I wanted to major in chemical engineering. My dad has a bulk drug factory back in India and I need to go back and take that over. I decided to have a school that was good in chemical engineering as well as shooting and decided to come to Ohio State.”
In his sophomore year, Konduskar won the WIRC individual championships in smallbore and air rifle. He qualified in smallbore rifle in the NCAA championship, hosted by Ohio State and finished 12th.
“It was a very thrilling match,” Konduskar said. “That was the biggest match I ever had, not including the nationals in India. I have never seen that much pressure in any of the matches that I have played in. It was right here at Ohio State, so I had to do well.”
Combining the rigors of getting an education and the discipline required in shooting is no easy task for Konduskar.
“It is pretty hard to concentrate on both activities,” Konduskar said. “Still I try to do both of them and the thing is that it means that shooting is the same as life. What we do in shooting is done in life. You don’t practice right before your match. You practice all (season) long and then go to the match. It is the same in studies. You don’t study right before an exam. You study all during the year.”
This past summer Konduskar, representing India, participated in the International Shooting Sport Federation (ISSF) World Shooting Championships in Lahti, Finland. In the 50-meter rifle prone, junior men competition, he tied for ninth. He followed that event with the XVII Commonwealth Games in Manchester, England where he finished 17th.
Knoduskar also traveled to England this summer to spend a week working with Alister “Jock” Allan, the first man to shoot a 600 out of 600 in the 50-meter English Match.
“I used to think different competitions meant different things,” Konduskar said. “Right now, I have learned that different competitions, the name doesn’t mean anything. You just have to play the competition as you always do. You just have to shoot the same gun and shoot the same distance (from the target) and same targets. Now I am realizing that it is not the name of the competition, it is just on that day how we shoot.”
His summer international experience did differ from his previous collegiate shooting.
“The collegiate and international shooting are totally different,” Konduskar said. “Over here (collegiate) we shoot at multiple targets and in international you have only one target at a time. The distance (in collegiate) is small; it’s 50 feet where as in international, it is 50 meters. NCAA shooting is indoors while the other shooting is outdoors, so wind and light, that matters a lot. So international shooting is much more complicated.
Konduskar hopes the 2004 Olympics will be in his future.
“I have a goal to make the Olympics, just go there, being there and winning, that is what I want,” Konduskar said. “But it is pretty difficult, but I am willing to work hard towards it.”
Ohio State rifle coach Pat Cherry thinks the Olympics is certainly within Konduskar’s reach.
“With such dedication to his sport and yearning for more knowledge in his sport, I think he will shoot for the India in the 2004 Olympics and if not them will some day earn a Gold medal in Olympic shooting,” Cherry said. “Making the National Team of India is no small feat in itself. India has many excellent shooters and a good National Program.”
Beyond receiving and education and shooting, Konduskar has his future planned out.
“If I can, I will stay over here for one or two years to see how the U.S. companies work,” Konduskar said. “But ultimately, I am going go back and take over the factory.”
Outside of school and education, Konduskar has rediscovered fishing as a hobby.
“When I went to Finland, I was much into fishing,” said Konduskar. “I discovered that it is a pretty nice feeling to go fishing. It is good for shooting at least. You need a lot of patience. I use to go fishing when I had to do nothing. It is a pretty nice thing. It is nice to have a hobby.”
Hailing from Kolhapur, Maharashtra, India, Konduskar is a long way from home, but keeps in touch with his family.
“I contact my parents one or two times a week,” Konduskar said. “They call me up or we set up on the Internet with the web cam so I can see them and they can see me. It is pretty okay. My parents totally support me. They pay my tuition over here because we have no scholarships. There is totally a lot of support from them.
“When I was pretty disappointed after my Commonwealth Games, they were like right beside me. They were like totally supportative of me, saying you will do better next time.”
For now, Konduskar is preparing for his senior year in school and another collegiate season of rifle competition. He is always looking to improve.
“If I do my practice right, I can do better,” he said.