Richard Bryan, Gleaner Writer
Jamaican shooters involved in the sport of practical shooting are closing the gap on their international counterparts, opening a genuine possibility that the country could attempt qualification in other forms of the sport at the Olympic level.
This was acknowledged by Ryan Bramwell, pistol captain at the Jamaica Rifle Association (JRA), the local and official affiliate of the International Practical Shooting Confederation.
"It continues to amaze me how our shooters perform in these top tournaments," Bramwell told The Gleaner.
"The playing field is not level in the sense that the top guys make a living from the sport day in, day out, and our shooters are, at best, part time," he revealed.
At the recent Florida Pistol Open Championship, three Jamaicans finished in the top 10 of the Limited Division, the premier section of competition in the sport, from a field of 129 competitors.
The field included world champion Blake Miguez; Manny Bragg, who has one of the most consistent records on the United States circuit for the last three years; Shannon Smith, who has grandmaster status in five categories of shooting; and Mike Burrell, regarded as Canada's best.
A breakdown of the field showed six grandmasters, 12 Master Class shooters, 11 'A' Class shooters, 25 'B' Class shooters, with 'C' and U (ungraded) classes making up the rest.
The three Jamaicans were Lesgar Murdock, who finished fifth, Orville Henriques, who was seventh, and Andy Yapp, who was tenth. A fourth Jamaican, Ronald Brown Jr, was 11th. Included in the outstanding show by the Jamaicans was the performance of female shooter, Sue-Ann Henriques, who finished as the best in her 'C' Class, and fourth-highest female performer in the tournament.
Bramwell acknowledged that Sue-Ann had world-class potential, and pointed to her recent feature in Front Sight, the official journal for International Practical Shooting.
Practical shooting is not part of the Olympics, which mainly surrounds the use of the shotgun and air pistol. Jamaica has competed in shooting at the Pan American Games level but have never attempted qualification for the Olympics.