A national coach told PTI on condition of anonymity that while Pushpender was filling compressed air into the pistol cylinder from the main cylinder, the incident happened. Air pistols and air rifles have a sleek gas cylinder attached just below the barrel. When the shooter presses the trigger, the compressed gas in the cylinder is released, which hits a hammer inside the air gun, ejecting the lead pellet.
The air pistol’s cylinder has to be filled after a certain number of shots with the help of a compressor or a portable cylinder.
Earlier, carbon dioxide used to be the preferred gas to fill the cylinders but with the advancement in technology, compressed air cylinders, which look like smaller versions of LPG cylinders, are used to fill the air pistol cylinders.
Pushpender belongs to the Baghpat district of Uttar Pradesh and, while he has not competed internationally, he is a senior member of the IAF team. He had lost his mother nearly a month back. “We are hopeful Pushpender will make 90-95 per cent recovery post-surgery,” said the coach.
“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.” The coach added that he had not come across such an incident in his career “though (gun) vendors say such incidents do happen”.
It is not known whether the air pistol was personal or belonged to the Air Force. “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 added.