Brick by brick, shooter-cum-real estate consultant Sheeraz Sheikh is building his life after financial constraints once made him a college dropout and a man on the verge of quitting a "very expensive" sport.
Sheikh, a proven India skeet shooter for the last five years, has no qualms in accepting that his real estate business supported his shooting career, after a tough phase almost a decade ago.
"Of our 16 years of living in Gurugram, we have been in in real estate business. I am into real estate business because you need support in shotgun shooting as it's very expensive," Sheikh told PTI during an interview.
The 31-year-old on Wednesday became one of the first shooters to hit the range amid the COVID-19 pandemic after the go-ahead from the Sports Authority of India (SAI).
Without big money, there is little scope of a career in skeet shooting. And his Real Estate company helped when he needed it the most to continue his career in the sport. The Gurugram-based company is run by him and his three elder brothers.
The man who knows it all, elaborated: "One cartridge costs you around Rs 30, so if I shot 400-500 cartridges a day it will come to about minimum Rs 12000 and then you clay target cost (Rs 6 per clay target), besides fuel.
"This is without coach, add a coach and the amount will come to about Rs 25000 to Rs 30000 a day for personal training."
Sheikh's coach Ennio Falco charges Euro 200 an hour but the India shooter says that's still a reasonable sum, as some of the other coaches command close to Euro 500 for coaching for the same amount of time.
While his life and career both came back on track thanks to real estate, the situation on the business front is far from good at the moment due to the pandemic.
"We guys are most affected, banks are not supporting. About 70 percent of real estate is stopped and a lot of employees have lost their jobs.
"Our business has suffered as the majorly affected are the developers, brokers."
Like with many other business organisations, the number of employees has come down in his firm.
"There were 20 staff in my office earlier and now we have just 5-6 people as employers have gone back due to the uncertainty caused by the pandemic."
Sheikh, who is very optimistic of the industry sailing though this tough phase, thanked Mohit Arora, the owner of Supertech, who has been sponsoring him since 2017.
Returning to training after a five-month forced layoff, Asian Shooting Championship bronze medallist Sheikh, who once aspired to be a cricketer having played at the U-16 level, said it all seemed like he was starting everything all over again.
"It felt like a new sport altogether. It was like starting from the basics. It will take some days to get back to that level. It's a new feeling for me," Sheikh said.
He was least worried while entering the Dr Karni Singh Shooting Range as all the SOPs were strictly adhered to, with SAI coach Vikram Chopra overseeing proceedings.
Mairaj Ahmad Khan was another skeet shooter to join Sheikh at the facility that has six shotgun ranges with only two marksmen training on the day thanks to social distancing.
He is part of National Rifle Association of India's (NRAI) core group of 34 shooters, including 15 Tokyo Olympics quota holders, who will be training keeping the showpiece in mind.