Jamaican shooter fired up for 'CommGames' challenge
National Shotgun champion Shaun Barnes is upbeat as he prepares to represent the country at the 20th staging of the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, Scotland.
Barnes, who will depart the island on July 18 for the games which is scheduled for July 23-August 3, has acquired the assistance of former American Olympic shooting coach Bret Erickson.
"We recently started training, but it is going pretty good so far. He has changed everything that I have done for Olympic trap... I am basically starting back from the ground level and working my way up, so it is a new challenge for me.
"I will be in training two to three hours every single day; we are focusing on correcting my set up, my focal point... how I move to the target and slowing myself down a little bit so I can acquire the targets and break them properly," Barnes told the Jamaica Observer at an award ceremony on Tuesday.
He added: "I don't know what will happen at the Commonwealth Games, I know it is going to be tough, but despite this I feel really honoured to have been chosen to break new ground for the country and I am looking forward to competing to the best of my ability."
The 33-year-old Barnes, who will be the first Jamaican to represent the country in the Olympic Trap event at the Commonwealth Games, said he is very confident.
"I have a lot to learn in Olympic Trap because it is a very new sport to Jamaica. Persons that I will be competing against have years of experience, but I am very confident in what I can do and I know that when it is competition time a different Shaun takes over," he said with a smile.
Erickson, who is a four-time World Championship medallist and record holder, is confident that he will have Barnes ready in time for the games.
"We have worked together before; we are just taking things that we have worked on in the past and tweaking them. He is such a good sporting clay shooter, that some of the fundamentals don't cross over. So I just have to remind him of some of the things that we have worked on, and I think we will have him ready.
"Shaun is a competitor which is everything. He reminds me a lot of myself... very modest and doesn't talk about himself much, he just let his gun do the talking and that is what you need to do just go out there and perform and let everybody else boast on you," said the American four-time summer Olympian shooter.
Barnes was the toast of the night's ceremony as he walked away with five awards, including the overall national title for the fourth time.
"This was probably the most challenging victory. Bruce ensured that I pushed my mental game into maximum overdrive to pull this one off, and because of that my mental game is right where it needs to be," he said.
Jake Therrien was named the top Junior Shooter; Geoffrey Ziadie the top Five-Stand Shooter; Richard Azan Jr the top Skeet Shooter, while Bruce DuQuesnay topped the FITASC arena.
National coach Khaleel Azan is happy with the success of this year's championship, more so the junior performances, and is looking forward to even more excitement next year.