Pistol shooting could boost Ja's tourism
FRANK Garcia, owner and director of Universal Shooting Academy in Frostproof, Florida, said Jamaica could reap significant economic benefits if the country maintains high standards at events such as last weekend's Jamaica Invitational Pistol Tournament.
Garcia, ranked as a grandmaster in the fast-growing sport of practical shooting, retained his Production Division title at the Jamaica Rifle Association's Mountain View range, beating Jamaica's Ryan Bramwell.
Describing Bramwell as a "good shooter", Garcia said emerging talents, and events such as the Jamaica Invitational, could result in the island hosting a world championship similar to the International Practical Shooting Confederation's (IPSC) World Shoot, which was staged at his range last October.
"There is a lot of potential, as far as talent goes, in Jamaica. It's a matter of getting people exposed to the sport," Garcia pointed out.
"Events like these are important because this is what gives growth to the sport in the country. Events like these are important to, some day, be able to bring a world championship to Jamaica," he added, delving into his own experience.
"This is how I started, with the Florida Open in 1999, successfully, for 10 years. That's what the world body noticed. You have to have a track record. It's not only good for the sport but for Jamaica as well, as you have international shooters coming in, noted Garcia, a member of the United States' championship team in the 1999 World Shoot in the Philippines.
"There are a lot of benefits. The other benefit is the economic impact on the country. At the World Champs, last year, a two-week event, generally people stay longer than two weeks. It brought in US$24m, according to the Florida tourism bureau.
"What I am trying to say is, with this event, its laying a track record that will be able to be used down the road to bid for an event like the World Champs," the 51-year-old added.
Last year's World Shoot provided a major financial boost for Polk County businesses in October, a time of year when tourism is slower. More than 10,000 room nights were booked for the event, which hosted 1,490 competitors from 78 countries.
The World Shoot is held every three years, stopping in Paris 2017, where Garcia hopes he will be able to defend his Production Senior title, which he won at his range last year.
Practical shooting is the second-most popular international target shooting discipline, now the fastest growing. In practical shooting, competitors try to unite the three principles of precision, power and speed, by using a firearm of a certain power to score as many points as possible during the shortest amount of time.
Courses are varied and have penalties for inaccurate shooting. The courses are called stages and are shot individually by the shooters. Usually, the shooter must move and shoot from several positions, fire under or over obstacles and in other unfamiliar positions.
IPSC is the sanctioning body within practical shooting. The United States Practical Shooting Association is the US regional affiliate of IPSC.