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During a press briefing at Olympic House yesterday, vice-president of the Guyana National Rifle Association (GNRA), Paul Slowe said that the local team was ready to challenge defending champions Jamaica for the BWIA trophy, symbol of regional shooting supremacy.
Jamaica will field eleven competitors, Trinidad & Tobago 19 and hosts Guyana 15 in the April 20-27 championships at the Timehri Rifle ranges.
However, Barbados were having difficulties and would not make the annual championships while Bermuda would not be able to pass their rifles through the USA, their intransit route, because of security restrictions imposed after the September 11 disaster.
But more than 40 shooters will compete in the prestigious championships, which will be conducted in two categories, the seniors called the ‘X’ class and the juniors called the ‘O’ class.
The local shooters have been preparing with the individual record and team shooters and their weapons are in good condition.
“They have been shooting well,” Slowe said.
Slowe disclosed that from these championships, the West Indies team would be selected for the World Palma Championships billed for Bisley, England, in July.
The regional team will consist some 16 shooters, two alternatives and two coaches and Guyana will be aiming to have a major number in the team. Some seven local shooters were in the West Indies team for the Millennium shoot in 2000 at the same venue.
Although the closing date for submitting the teams was April 1, the West Indies were allowed to submit their team immediately after the regional championships.
And some big guns will be vying for top honours here, including 1999 champion Norris Gomez of Trinidad & Tobago, 2001 champion Junior Browne of Jamaica, Trinidadian John Fung-Yu and Jamaican Carl Smith, along with local stars Ransford Goodluck, Mahendra Persaud, Richard and Dylan Fields, Neville Denny, Ryan Sampson and possibly Leo Ramalho.
Shoots at World Championships, staged every four years, will be at the 800, 900 and 1000 yards ranges, for which the Palma target is used, thus the move to use that target for the regional championships at the 900 and 1 000 yards. The 800 yards range at Timehri is out of service at present.
Slowe disclosed that support has already been coming from the traditional sponsors for the $3.5 million regional championships, with Ministry of Culture, Youth & Sport assuring financial input and a pledge from the Office of the President. The Guyana Defence Force, who manages the targets and range, is also on board.
The GNRA has already acquired top quality ammunition from England, down payment for which the body secured a loan, with final payments to be made after the sponsors would have disbursed funding for the championships. The ammo arrived here a month ago.
Teams will arrive on April 20, a Sunday, and the individual competitions will be staged from the following day to the Thursday, after which the West Indies team will be selected and will practise the following day.
The team match in the long-range shoot will be on Saturday, usually the Singer trophy that Guyana will defend. However, should Singer not be able to do so this time, a sponsor has already been identified to fill the slot.
Shoot for the BWIA trophy will be on Sunday at the 300, 500 and 600 yards ranges, for which the traditional target will be used.
Slowe disclosed that real gold, silver and bronze medals would be awarded, as was done for the English visit here last year.
“This will now be a standard for competitions here, our way of helping to promote our gold,” Slowe said.