Long standing President of the West Indies Fullbore Shooting Council (WIFBSC) Norris Gomez of Trinidad and Tobago says he is backing his team to do well at this year’s World Long Range and Palma Teams championships which will be contested at Camp Perry, Ohio, USA starting this weekend.
The 66 year-old Gomez, a former BWIA Pilot who is still very active in the sport and a member of the West Indies team, noted that the team has a number of shooters, with most coming from Guyana and strongly believes that his team will excel.
The best long range shooters from six countries in the West Indies will vie individually and as a team to bring glory to the West Indies when they compete at the championships which have England and the USA as favourites.
Of the 18-man West Indies team inclusive of two reserves, Guyana has nine (9) members and one of the two reserves.
Competition fires off on Saturday with the Long Range championships which would be followed by the Americas Cup match (team competition) and the Palma which is another team competition featuring the best shooters from the world shooting countries.
In the Americas Cup match, non-shooting team captain John Nelson of Jamaica disclosed that the Caribbean is hoping to enter three teams consisting of eight (8) members each.
The 16-member team for the World Cup of shooting will be entered as two, while Nelson noted that those shooters who have not made the WI team would be entered as the third team with a view of them gaining experience for the future.
Nelson underscored the importance of the Caribbean competing as a unit at the championships.
Ransford Goodluck, Leo Ramalho, Ryan Sampson, Dylan Fields, Sigmund Douglas, John Fraser, Michael Perez and Ezekiel Joseph are other T&T players on the 18-member West Indies team.
Gomez expressed delight at having female Barbadian markswoman Shelly Ann Hinds as a member of the Team as well.
Training he said, went well for the individual countries and their shooters preparing for the World championships.
“The world championships of course are important to us. This particular match has been going on I believe since September 1876 and to have these matches it’s really important because the shooters look forward every three years to come to these world championships.”
Gomez pointed out that there are three Under-25 teams competing at the NRA US Championships which started yesterday at Camp Perry.
He emphasized that it is unfortunate that the Caribbean does not have an Under-25 team.
“I don’t know about the other territories but certainly in Trinidad you cannot shoot a rifle, you cannot get a firearms users license until you are 25 which means that our shooters are starting at an old age unless you are a cadet.”
“The cadet force in Trinidad and I am pretty sure it’s throughout the Caribbean, with shooting being an expensive sport, I don’t think that the cadet force puts out the kind of funds that is necessary for the shooters to practice and to learn the sport.”
The WIFBSC boss said that it is left up to the clubs, like the Guyana NRA and the Trinidad & Tobago Rifle Association to try and get the youngsters involved.
“And I think for this sport to continue, much less to get larger, the governments are going to have to make some sort of moves to change the legislations to allow kids to start shooting at an earlier age. We have hosted the Greshon School from England on many occasions where the youngsters have come out and shot with us. These are kids that start at 12 years-old so by the time they get to 25 years-old they are professionals and that’s when we in the Caribbean now start.”
“It’s a joy to have Ms. Hinds selected as one of us to compete against the best in the world. I think it is really good and augurs well for the sport and she can match anyone of us because there is no gender differentiation in shooting, male and female shoot shoulder to shoulder. There are no boys and girls they are all shooters.”