A few months ago Shayon Francis was one of those who dabbled in sport shooting for fun. Nowadays, her appetite for competition is rather surprising.
Francis, who was introduced to the sport by Superintendent Steve Brown, grew in confidence with each shot along the way and later engaged in a few local competitions as part of Jamaica's Super Six elite all-female team, which has progressed steadily alongside its male counterparts.
So it was only natural that Francis and her teammates — Corporal Kayla Keane, Detective Corporal Sasha-gay Mullings, Renee Rickhi, and Yeonie Campbell — gave a good account of themselves on their first international outing at the Pan American Handgun Championship in Florida.
The other team member, Shevanese Session, recently replaced Sheresa Solan as the sixth member of the outfit but did not make the trip.
Still, their historic feat went beyond being the first all-female team to represent Jamaica at a major shooting tournament as they placed third behind the United Sates and Brazil in the Production Optics Division.
The ladies shot 24 stages across four gruelling days to secure a podium spot — which may have come as a surprise to many, but not so for Francis.
In fact, the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) police constable pointed out that they went wide of the intended target.
"I'm extremely happy with our third-place achievement. We shot really well, competed really hard, and obviously encouraged each other along the way — which resulted in our finish.
"To be honest, the real target was first place but I'm super excited about how we performed and enjoyed every moment of my first international competition," Francis told the Jamaica Observer.
Despite the lack of international experience, Francis explained that she was more composed than expected, which was credited to having her teammates by her side.
"Surprisingly, I was very composed as we were just trying to maintain our focus so that we could execute effectively, as taught in training," Francis noted.
"But I will not say it was an easy task because the other ladies were also very competitive. But, we went out there with a positive mindset that we could do it and we went ahead and did just that," she added.
More than that, Francis — who is assigned to the Corporate Communications Unit (CCU), the JCF's communications arm — believes they accomplished their objective of giving observers an insight into the potential and likely future of Jamaica's women in competitive shooting.
"The feedback was positive locally, and now internationally. Everyone at the championship welcomed us with open arms and everyday persons from all over the US came to see us shoot," she shared.
"People all over the world have been reaching out to us and, based on how things are now, I am sure we will continue to see more women reaching out to us expressing interest in the sport," Francis reasoned.
With their class and quality now on demand, Francis said she and teammates are now weighing their options about where next they will make an appearance. But for now, rest and recovery.
"We have several other international competitions coming up, but whenever we get back to training our coach and management team will decide which ones are the best for us to participate in," she informed.