Jamaica's all-female pistol shooting team members — Super Six — claim they draw inspiration from some of Jamaica's iconic names in sport.
Among them are Cynthia Thompson, the first Jamaican and first female to appear in an Olympics back in London 1948; netball pioneer Lelia Robinson; swimmer Alia Atkinson; cricketer Stafanie Taylor; football's Khadija "Bunny" Shaw; and motor racing sensation Sarah Misir.
Super Six Captain Police Detective Corporal Sasha Mullings and her all-female shooting team Super Six take motivation from other Jamaican female sporting stand out as they seek to impact change lives and changes by their exploits on the shooting range.
Mullings has also called for more woman to get involved in the sport, seeking to repel the old notion that shooting is a sport for men. She admits that it is indeed a male dominated, but not exclusive to sterner sex as some would want to have it.
"Our first day of competitive shooting we were up against 16 male teams, of course we were barracked and mocked by some of the men who described us as fashion models and high-heel wearing office girls," said Mullings.
She said after the opening ceremony, the team management told them to start well and get the crowd on their side, before long several special forces teams were left scrambling to find answers. She and her team used the early criticism and sexist scorn as motivation and they ended up outperforming most of the teams.
"Women do have a place in the sport of shooting at the various levels and in all categories. It is not much differently from other sports where women perform and dominate; and there is no boundary beyond the reach of women in this discipline," Mullings said.
The sharp-shooting cop was quick to shoot down the argument that women are the weaker sex, and have no place in the sacred domain of men. "I do not believe in, nor support emasculation, but the competence and character of women cannot be ignored," she reasoned.
With more women applying and acquiring licensed firearms for personal protection, Mullings is encouraging them to get involved in the sport, because through competition these women can develop speed, competence, confidence and accuracy.
According to her, the group and the coaches are looking at holding seminars and workshops in the near future, designed specifically to teach women who are licensed firearm holders how to handle their weapons more competently and introduce them to the sport.
On the other hand, Mullings was quick to condemn the illegal and irresponsible use of firearms in Jamaica. "As a nation, we cannot continue with this type of behaviour against each other; if you know someone with an illegal gun, it is best to report that person immediately to the police," she noted.
Speaking of her rise and that of her teammates in the sport, she attributes this to commitment, a willingness to learn and work on what the coaches impart in training. Buoyed by recent sponsorship from roofing company Spectrum Systems, she believes strong improvement on the ladies' part is on the horizon.
"We are deeply appreciative and honoured to have corporate Jamaica on board and with coaches who know every aspect of shooting and can quickly correct our mistakes things are looking up, she said.
Recognised as the fiercest competitor and the strategist on the Super Six team Mullings, who leads from the front, said when police superintendent Steve Brown inveigled her to participate in the JCF SWAT competition round-up, she was initially sceptical. She said Brown then told her he had bantered some male cops about finding six women and get them ready in less than a month to beat them and because she did not want to let down her former boss, she jumped on board.
"Today, I have no regrets and I am loving the sport, my awareness on the street has increased, I am far more competent in the use and handling of my weapon. I am often reminded of how I could not hold a firearm properly when I started shooting at the Jamaica Rifle Association (JRA) to now getting more competitive with every match. Comments like those embolden me to encourage more women to come on board," Mullings said.
She is also of the view that the comaraderie among all the shooters at the JRA fosters growth. Although they are competing against the men, they are still given tips on how to execute their game plans.
Five members of the team were selected to represent Jamaica in the Pan-American Shooting Championships in September, an opportunity, Mullings said, she and her teammates has embraced.
With additional funds forthcoming from Government, preparation for the upcoming championships can move into higher gear.
Outside of preparation for the Pan-Am games, Mullings said the group is looking to recruit more females, but the name will remain unchanged. The plan is to have a solid 10 or 12 shooters.
"We now have four police officers and two civilians on the team, and going forward, whether it's a civilian, JCF member or military personnel, we are ready to welcome you. Come on board; let's go ladies!" she ended.