The National Shooting Sports Federation of Sri Lanka (NSSF), after eagerly, desperately and fruitlessly waiting for state support to build up a permanent national shooting range, has put up a makeshift air rifle range, aiming to support its national shooters which include upcoming School children who will be the future medalists in the sport of shooting now numbering over 5000.
With few important international events coming up, and sans easy access for local shooters, mostly from private clubs and schools, to enter facilities maintained inside military zones, the NSSF has made this move, with the sole purpose of giving their shooters ample practice sessions.
Sri Lanka has already sent a team for the International Shooting Grand Prix or the Emir Cup, which began in Kuwait on Friday (8) and after its conclusion next Friday (15), the NSSF will send a team to New Delhi, India for the ISSF Rifle and Pistol World Cup.
The World Cup will take place from February 20 to 28. All expenditure is borne by the shooters themselves to excel on behalf of their country.
That’s how committed these shooters are.
The electronic targets at 'makeshift' range, dedicated only for the shooters of the Sri Lanka squad, is a four-lane facility, only just sufficient to help the shooters to groom themselves prior to designated competitions, national and international.
The President of NSSF, Shirantha Peries explained that as a responsible national sports governing body, they are committed to serve the sport and its athletes, whatever circumstances may arise.
"During the past few years we have managed to add value, standard and achieve progress with regard to shooting sport disciplines that come within the purview of the NSSF. But NSSF too has its restrictions when it comes to funds and expenditure, as we do not possess a mass asset. If the NSSF had its range built at Waters Edge as planned, it would be generating substantial income from it by now. The sport is progressing mainly due to individuals who are highly committed to it, and because of those who are willing to walk that extra mile without expectations of any returns. This new range that was set up was a result of that," he explained.
The NSSF held its Annual General Meeting last December and the Representative of the Ministry of Sports, Gamini Costa, who came in as an observer, emphasised on the importance of a national shooting range.
Costa, who stated that he was overwhelmed by the unity and camaraderie of the NSSF officials, made his pledge to assist shooting sports reach the desired heights.
"It's a known fact that shooting sports have the potential of winning international medals, in particular at the South Asian Games, Asian Games, Commonwealth Games and the Olympics. It's good to see that the current administration has laid a good foundation for its shooters, who are finding it difficult to undergo training, as there's no designated place for them to do their part," Costa said after the NSSF AGM.
The Sports Ministry official assured that he would look into every possible avenue to ensure the NSSF end up with a national shooting range, a venture NSSF President Shirantha Peries initiated when he was first elected in 2015.
The project has gone through four different Ministers of Sports since then and now comes under the newly appointed Harin Fernando.
Already the ministry has spent almost 10 million rupees on architectural plans, BOQ’s and has called for tenders and then there has been a complete standstill.
The NSSF has spend nearly 3 million rupees from various funds saved and raised.
The infrastructural and logistic aspects of the project have been completed after allocating a potential plot of land near the Waters' Edge Hotel in Battaramulla and the Association is waiting for financial approval.
With the recent political turmoil and changes that affected the country and the delay with the budget, NSSF is left in the dark as regard to its position is.
Knowing through experience that waiting for the best to happen is not the best of options, the NSSF provisionally set up the 'makeshift' range at a rented private property in Kohuwela, that was meant for use by an establishment belonging to one of its officials, who has allowed its use free of charge so that the country's standards in shooting could grow further.
Earlier Peries had provided a much better facility on the rooftop of his office premises where eight lanes with air condition were available.
But due to high maintenance costs, which were mostly met by the NSSF President's own funds, it was discontinued after almost two years.
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