After some six months of intense and gruelling competition, the 2012 Stocks and Securities Limited (SSL) National Shotgun Championship will culminate over the next two weekends.
Starting today, a number of Jamaica's top guns, led by defending champion Shaun Barnes, will square off in Worthy Park, St Catherine. The shooters, battling for seeding positions, will take up arms again tomorrow for another round of shoot-offs.
President of the Jamaica Skeet Club, Brett Thwaites, was beside himself with excitement at the prospects of this and next weekend's action as he spoke at media session at The Mahogany Tree Bar at Devon House Thursday evening.
"We are at the finals now with the horses at the gate... the National Championships is not for somebody who has had a good weekend or even a good month, it is for somebody who dedicates himself and works very hard at improving his game and marksmanship," he said.
"We are now at the wire, where we have one event completed which is the Olympic Trap, and we have three more sub events which are Skeet, Five Stand and FITACS this weekend, and then the weekend after we head into the finals and the grand finale, which is the main event which is a 200-bird tournament," said Thwaites.
Some 40 shooters are expected to be in action over this weekend.
Thwaites said any of a small crop of top shooters has a realistic chance of winning the championship, but without saying so, Barnes appears highly favoured to repeat.
"At this point we have at least six people who are capable of winning the championship... it's the tightest and most competitive championship we have ever seen," said Thwaites. "Of the 40 people who will shoot this weekend, everybody has their eyes on the trophy," he added.
"This is very tough on the competitors and will take place over two days and it will be rough on your body, rough on your hydration, and even rougher on your brains," Thwaites said.
Apart from playing for ranking, players will also receive trophies. It's always a big prize to be seeded number, isn't it? But the most important thing is self-gratification in being able to achieve something and you can't be accused to be a 'flash in the pan' when you have done it over six months," he concluded.
Bobby Chung is seeded number two behind Barnes. A top junior, Brandon Reid, has shown great form and promise so far this year.
Meanwhile, president of CEO of SSL Mark Croskery, said his company is pleased to be renewing it's partnership with the Jamaica Skeet Club and said SSL's $1 million commitment this year is token to the tangible returns.
"We started three years ago and it's getting more popular... we have been able to get clients out of this, we also get a lot of significant brand awareness," said Mark, whose father Hugh is executive chairman of the SSL, which is a wealth management, investment and advisory firm since 1973.