Sat | Jul 24, 2021

Andrew Gardner | JIPT has been one of Jamaica’s finest hours

Published:Monday | May 6, 2019 | 12:00 AM

That we Jamaicans have done much with the little we have been given is a gross understatement. When one compares the relatively unlimited resources of other countries, like our neighbours to the north, to our humble means, it is no wonder they find it unbelievable that we can keep up with and, in some cases, beat them at their own games. Let’s face it, the legendary exploits of Jamaicans in business, sports, music and the other arts are not commensurate with our place at the table. But we show up anyways, and, with a positive attitude, we forge ahead.

The ninth staging of the Jamaica Invitational Pistol Tournament (JIPT) has been one of our finest hours. It is yet another example of Jamaicans demonstrating their indomitable spirit.

Firstly, as a foreign affiliate of the United States Practical Shooting Association (USPSA), we are mainly expected to host classification exercises, not major matches. To have advanced our event to the point that the USPSA is willing to work with us and sanction Level III status shows the faith they have in our ability to administer an event. For context, they only sanction one level higher, called ‘NATIONALS’, and they run that match themselves to determine who their national champions are. So we think that after progressing through the levels, to be able to host this competition and meet the Level III requirements is an accomplishment by itself.

Our friends from overseas who come to compete with us continuously express amazement at the skill and dexterity of our athletes. Congratulations to the division winners – Chris Keen (US) in Open, Ryan Bramwell (Jamaica) in Limited, Eric Kamps (US) in Production. The match was hard-fought to the very end. The highest number of points achieved was 1,418 in the Limited Division, but notably the biggest gap to second place across the divisions was 95 points.

To add more perspective to why that is a huge achievement, Production winner Eric Kamps discussed his training routine with us. He regularly shoots 1,000 rounds in a single training session and goes through well over 120,000 rounds per year. He recently made a post of his competition gun that had been destroyed from the amount of use it had received in training.

Most Jamaican competitors don’t exceed 200 rounds in training, and fewer still pass 9,000 rounds in a year. That is because of higher levels of regulation governing the sport locally, as well as much higher costs for equipment – all the bullets shot by local competitors are imported from commercial manufacturers in the US or elsewhere. Several of the competitors from overseas are professional shooters who work for a living within the industry and have access to guns, ammunition, training time and competitions at a significantly higher level than we do.

Having explained the disparity at play, it makes the win by Bramwell seem much more special. It also makes us pay notice to others like Darin Richards (Jamaica), second in Production, and Kevin Cheung (Jamaica), fourth in Open, who were both about 90 points shy of their division winners.

POTENTIAL FOR GROWTH

Yes, our foreign counterparts have newer, better equipment and more resources back home. But they usually point that out to pay tribute to how much we do with what we have. That is why we had 20 overseas competitors at our match, several of who were repeat visitors. They wouldn’t have come back if we hadn’t offered them something worthwhile.

Yes, a similar match in the US might field 300 plus competitors. But their market (about 100 times our size) includes the 30,000 plus USPSA members, plus competitors from countries like Jamaica who support these grand events.

We see the potential for growth beyond our current numbers and are working at just that. How many sports bring in 20 plus tourists to one event who will spend 80 plus room nights boosting the economy? Last year, we brought over 200 visitors for sports tourism, who spent over 1,200 room nights enjoying Jamaican hospitality.

We are proud of our achievement in JIPT 2019, our Jamaican competitors, our administrative team, and our match officials, who demonstrate professionalism within our sport and show up with a ‘get it done’ attitude. That is what makes us truly Jamaican and unique among others.

We are not stalled by a lack of resources; nor are we dissuaded by ignorance or naysayers. We already know it’s not just about the course, or the equipment, or the amount of money we have to spend. Our positive attitude has been quietly getting things done for the past nine years and will help us continue to improve, one match at a time.

Andrew R. Gardner is president of the Jamaica Rifle Association and match director for JIPT 2019. Email feedback to columns@gleanerjm.com.