During a tragic incident at the Karni Singh Range, national-level shooter Pushpender Kumar lost his left thumb when the 10m air pistol cylinder he was filling exploded during training for the National Championships in Bhopal.
The incident occurred on Saturday evening, leading to severe injuries that required immediate hospitalization. Pushpender Kumar, an Indian Air Force corporal, is currently receiving treatment at the Indian Army’s R&R hospital in New Delhi.
As per an anonymous national coach, the accident occurred while Pushpender was refilling compressed air into the pistol cylinder from the main cylinder. Air pistols and rifles have a gas cylinder attached below the barrel, releasing compressed gas when the shooter triggers the mechanism. The cylinder requires refilling after a certain number of shots.
While carbon dioxide was previously used, modern air pistols now use compressed air cylinders, resembling smaller versions of LPG cylinders. The coach noted that such incidents are rare, and vendors acknowledge their occasional occurrence.
“We are hopeful Pushpender will make 90-95 percent recovery post surgery. Air pistol cylinders have to be replaced after a certain period of time and the gun manufacturers do it for free. Thankfully, Pushpender’s shooting arm is safe,” PTI quoted coach.
“It is sad that he will not be able to compete in the national championships currently underway in Bhopal. His mother had passed away some 15-20 days back. As far as I know, he has not played internationally. He usually trains at the Karni Singh range in Delhi,” the coach further added.
Pushpender undergone a major surgery:
“Pushpender is a good shooter and I have known him for a long time. What I have been told is that he has undergone a major surgery. He is around 28-30 years old. Usually what happens is that the pressure gauge indicator on the air weapon’s cylinder starts malfunctioning, giving incorrect reading. It leads to overfilling of the cylinder, which causes it to burst,” PTI quoted another coach as saying.
The injured shooter is a senior member of the IAF team but has not participated in international competition. He is from the Baghpat area of Uttar Pradesh.
The coach surmised that faulty pressure gauge indicators on the air weapon’s cylinder would cause overfilling and a burst, while the precise cause of the explosion is still unknown.
According to reports, Pushpender is receiving support from Ravi Kumar, an international rifle shooter from Meerut who is also in the IAF, at the Army hospital while he heals.