Pan Am Handgun Champs expected to boost economy
Jamaica's stocks as a host country for international sporting events were sent soaring further on Friday with the Jamaica Rifle Association's (JRA) launch of the seventh Pan American Handgun Championship, set for the week of July 22-29 at two venues.
Woodleigh in May Pen, Clarendon, and the JRA's historic Mountain View Avenue headquarters in St Andrew were announced as twin venues for the regional championship, a level-four International Practical Shooting Confederation (IPSC) match, which is expected to have participants from at least 27 countries.
"This championship is one step behind the IPSC World Shoot, which is the 'Olympics' of practical shooting," Dr George Stewart, a member of the organising committee, explained during the launch at the Sports Development Foundation (SDF) offices.
The SDF, represented by General Manager Denzil Wilks, made a presentation of $1m towards the hosting of the championship, which will have its opening ceremony on Sunday, July 22, at Emancipation Park in New Kingston.
Wilks reminded the gathering that the JRA had a long history and hilariously recalled that the range occupied part of what is now the community of Nannyville, from where targets were engaged at the other side of Mountain View Avenue.
"It is my pleasure to be a part of this development," Wilks said. "Any organisation that has been around for 122 years must be worth its salt.
GOOD FOR BRAND JAMAICA
"I was pleased to hear that Jamaica has a shooter in the top 10 of the world. The more we enhance Brand Jamaica, the better it is. Bar music, there is no greater driver of tourism than sports. This championship will help to put us further on the map," Wilks added.
Florette Blackwood, consultant, Ministry of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sports also endorsed the championship, which, she noted, is expected to inject more than US$1m (almost J$130 million) into the local economy.
"Our national sports policy speaks to leveraging sports to enhance Brand Jamaica. This Pan Am Championship is doing just that. I congratulate the JRA in this regard. This is a major event and we congratulate you for being so bold and brave," said Blackwood.
Meanwhile, acting JRA President Andrew Gardner outlined that shooters are also expected from outside the Pan Am region, matching skills in four divisions with top Jamaicans such as world-rated Lesgar 'Speedy' Murdock.
Gardner invited members of the public to support the regional championship, which has an entry fee of $1,000 per day for action at Woodleigh on July 23-24, and at Mountain View, July 25-26 and Saturday, July 28, which will feature an exciting last-day shoot-off in a 'steel-only' challenge among the top-seeded shooters.