Indian shooters flopped on a windy day at the Aoti Shooting range with the country's first woman world champion Tejaswini Sawant and Gagan Narang ending up way off target in their respective events at the 2010 Asian Games in Guangzhou, on Monday.
After collecting three silver medals and a bronze on the first two days of competition, Indian shooters found it hard to adjust to the swirling wind conditions.
According to foreign coach Stanislav Lapidus, this upset the apple cart of both the men's and women's rifle wielders in the 50m prone events.
Vijay Kumar, meanwhile, could not sustain the form he showed on Sunday in the men's 25m rapid fire pistol which is his pet event.
Narang, who secured two silver medals in the 10m air rifle event on the opening day including the team honours, was second-best among Indians by finishing a lowly 24th with 587 points in the prone event.
Tejaswini too flunked badly as she shot 588 to end up 11th while team-mates Meena (586) and Lajja Goswami (585) finished 14th and 16th individually while the team ended up fifth with 1759.
Kumar, who won a bronze in the 10m air pistol despite qualifying eighth, was clearly not at his best and finished a distant 17th, behind team-mates Rahul, who was 10th with 572, and Harpreet Singh (571, 11th).
Kumar's final tally was 568.
There was some consolation for Narang as the 50m rifle prone is not the 27-year-old Commonwealth Games hero's main event at the distance and his remaining hopes of adding to his and India's medal kitty lies in the 50m three position competition to be held on November 18.
Hariom Singh, who has already secured an Olympic berth in the same event at the Munich World Championship in August, was 13th from 54 shooters in the qualification stage by shooting 590 marks but this was way behind the 598 he fired at Munich and well behind the 594-595 he has been doing in the practice rounds.
Third Indian entrant Surinder Singh Rathod was 27th with a tally of 586 and the Indian squad finished fifth in the team event held concurrently with a total of 1763 points, 22 gold medal winners North Korea who created an Asian record of 1785, bettering the earlier one by three points.
South Korea's Kim Hakman won the individual gold with 698.3, while Yuriy Melsitov of Kazakhstan (697.9) and China's Tian Hui (593) won the silver and bronze.
Lapidus said while the performance was not up to the mark, the weather conditions too affected the Indians.
"In one word I would describe the performance as bad. But the Indian shooters are not used to these kinds of winds which changed direction every 2-3 seconds. In India, at Pune or Delhi, when they train the wind comes from only one direction, from the left or from the right, consistently," said Lapidus.
Lapidus also emphasised that after the high experienced in the Commonwealth Games last month, the performance was bound to dip as none can sustain the levels for long.
He also pointed out that Narang is using a new rifle and has not practiced much since the Delhi Games.
"Gagan Narang is using a new rifle here. He is shooting with it only here. He has had no practice after the Commonwealth Games," he said.
He pointed out that the conditions did not matter much in the 10m events, but in 50m events it was imperative to give the shooters experience of the range conditions in future.
"To prepare well for competitions in future the shooters either need to train at the same range where they will be held or in similar range conditions," he said about the lessons learned from today's display.
Mhow-based army Havaldar Hariom Singh was disappointed with his show as well as his team-mates and said though the wind did affect the shooting, that was not the only reason for his below-par show.
"The wind did affect the shooting, a bit. But there was pressure of doing well too because of which I was delaying my firing. But I hope to do well in future competitions, in the coming World Cups," said the Agra-born shooter.
Singh also feels he needs to toughen up mentally to handle pressure.
"Someone like B P Bam would have helped me in mental training to handle the pressure of doing well in this competition. That's what I feel," he said.
Hariom's firing sequence was 99 97 97 99 99 99 for a final tally of 590, Narang shot 97 99 95 100 98 98 for 587 while Rathod's was 97 99 97 98 97 98 for 986.
India won three gold, five silver and six bronze medals at the Doha Asian Games four years ago.
So far at the 2010 Games, the country has won three silver medals (Narang, men's 10m air rifle team, women's 10m air rifle team) and one bronze (Vijay Kumar, men's 10m air pistol).