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Playing for pizza: An Italian town that lives and breathes shooting

Imagine a quaint, sparsely-populated town, a beach nearby, tiny little cafes and a dozen shooting ranges. That’s Capua for you. It is not a touristy place, most travellers prefer Naples which is roughly a 20-minute drive from here. Naples is a much more happening city compared to Capua, which has a countryside feel to it. But it couldn’t matter much to those of us who’ve been training here.

I arrived in Capua last month along with fellow skeet shooters Mairaj Khan and Ganemat Shekhon, who too will be competing at the Asian Games. It was our coach Ennio Falco’s idea. Ennio is a skeet shooting legend, who has won the Olympic gold in 1996 and world championship silver in 2013. He has about eight ranges here and we train at one of those. Our schedule is such that we aren’t left with much time to explore the place.

We shoot from 8 to 11 in the morning, which means we have to arrive at the range by 7.30am. We restart at 4pm and carry on till 7. Every day, we shoot around 400-500 cartridges. The days are long, it’s bright till 9pm so we can extend our sessions.

There’s not much to do here. So isolated this place is that we do not even get something as basic as eggs very easily. Thankfully, the person with whom we are staying takes care of these things. It’s still better than Massari, where Rajyavardhan Rathore used to train. That place, I heard, just had a range – you even stayed on there. So while there may not be much to look around here, there are some beautiful cafes and restaurants. The pasta, pizza and risotto here cannot be compared to any other place. At times, when I feel like eating Indian food, we drive down to Naples, which has some good Indian restaurants.

One restaurant I frequent is Mama Mia. The owner has become a friend and even makes slightly spicy pizzas for us. But it’s not just because of the food that we’ve bonded. Like we play cricket in India, everyone here comes to the shooting range on the weekend. And the owner of the restaurant comes along often, that’s the kind of shooting culture they have here.

It’s a conversation starter. If the locals spot us with our India t-shirts, they walk up to us without any hesitation. There’s a lot of curiosity about India and Indian shooting, and we speak for hours. Some of them have become really good friends. With such high interest in the sport, you can imagine the level of shooting here. We train with some of the best in the business, including the likes of Giancarlo Tazza, one of the best skeet shooters in the world. We compete at the local tournaments, including the Italian national championship. It gives us an idea about how our training is progressing.

This is a perfect town if you are a shooter, for it lives and breathes the sport.

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