Sports

Two top gunners prepare for skeet shooting in PanAm Games

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

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Two of Jamaica's top gunners are in a race to prepare for competition in the upcoming PanAm Games in skeet shooting.

Six-time national shotgun champion Shaun Barnes and two-time national shotgun champion Christian Sasso have been in training with Italian coach Bianco Rafaelle for the upcoming PanAm Games in Lima, Peru from July 26 to August 8.

They wrapped up the second stint of training recently at Jamaica Skeet Club in Portmore.

According to the shooters, preparation has been going well but Olympic skeet is completely different from sporting clays, which is the popular shooting form in Jamaica.

Jamaica also compete in American skeet but it is still different from Olympic skeet. Barnes sees Olympic skeet as a new challenge and that makes it attractive for him to learn and compete in. He said, “Olympic skeet is completely different from sporting, so it's basically learning to shoot all over again. I don't know where I would stand as I am still in a learning process (and) my confidence isn't there with the sport as yet. I am still learning and trying to figure out how to move the gun and where to look and as soon as everything starts to fall into place and I feel like I can shoot perfect scores, then I will be able to give a better response.”

Barnes explained why he is drawn to Olympic skeet when he said, “I am drawn to this activity because it is a challenge. It's something different, it's something that challenges me every single time I load the gun. My aim at the end of the day is to try to be perfect at this sport and as such it has my attention and a hundred per cent attention.”

Barnes is happy to have Christian Sasso as a training partner and ultimately as a fellow competitor when the PanAm Games come around. He said, “I can't wait (for the PanAm Games) and what is even more exciting is I have Christian Sasso with me, so I feel the comfort of a Jamaican who is also at the top of his game in sporting clays. Sure we are teammates now and I am looking forward to making Jamaica proud in the best way possible.”

Sasso described the difference between sporting clays and Olympic skeet. He said, “it is definitely a lot different. Olympic skeet is a lot faster and you have to have your gun held down, not like sporting where you can pre-mount, so it's fast and very interesting.

“The learning process is long. I still have a long way to go. In sporting you know I go in so confident. I don't feel any pressure, with the skeet it's a completely different ball game. Every time I go in the box I am not so confident that I am going to hit the target but I do my best.”

Both shooters were advised by coach Rafaelle to stop shooting sporting clays in order to do well at Olympic skeet. They see that as a challenge. Sasso's comments were “you know when the coach first said it I got goose bumps, but to where I am right now in sporting clays I would like to take it to a different level. I would like to be on the international map; I would like to make it at least to one Olympics in my lifetime. I am willing to, it's a hard blow but I am willing to make the sacrifice.”

A major challenge facing the shooters is how to finance their road to the Olympics in skeet shooting. Sasso said, “it's a lot of money. We cannot do it on our own. We will need as much support from all the sports federations, the Skeet Club, the JRA, any help that we can get is gonna be needed. We definitely cannot afford to do it on our own. We are still waiting to hear some information from the Olympic association going forward. If everything does come through, then we have a plan to the PanAm Games. If not then we are on our own. It will just be Shaun and I trying to figure out things by ourselves.”

Rafaelle said that he recommended that they stop shooting sporting clays because “it's not possible to shoot to the high level because there are some differences and it's difficult to maintain the performance for both disciplines”.

He thinks that the shooters will do their best in the PanAm Games but they will need the proper equipment in order to prepare properly for competition. “Very realistic; we have to understand that first of all both of these guys they have not the technical equipment to shoot skeet. Mr Barnes shot with one gun that is sporting gun with 83cm barrel. Normally in skeet we shoot 71cm to maximum 76cm barrel. That is not technical advantage for the shooter. For Mr Sasso, the same, he has a very nice gun, again 82cm barrel. Now we find a solution, a temporary solution — we use a hunting gun but it is a hunting gun so not so much balance. We have some technical problems from start.”

The second issue is “it's very difficult to say when they can arrive in PanAm. Two months is very short to prepare somebody to go into competition. They didn't shoot Olympic skeet until 10 days ago. They just shot sporting. In this day I checked something with them. Their reaction to shoot sporting is very beautiful. One is very instinctive and the other one is very mental, two different shooters but both of them with beautiful contact with the target. The problem is that skeet is very different. Our memory normally needs to work 20 to 24 days to change some habit and it's difficult. We cannot expect something fantastic in the PanAm. We will do our best but it is so difficult to say what will happen.”


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