Two years ago, the local governing body of shooting sport, the NSSF (National Shooting Sports Federation), was forced to construct a ‘makeshift’ shooting range in a private property of its president Shirantha Peries in Kohuwala. The main purpose of this range was to support and provide training facilities to the national shooters — junior and [...]


Shooting goes digital

Introduction of electronic shooting targets in local meets boon for the sport

The Air Rifle is compatible for both electronic and manual targets - Pix by M.D. Nissanka

Two years ago, the local governing body of shooting sport, the NSSF (National Shooting Sports Federation), was forced to construct a ‘makeshift’ shooting range in a private property of its president Shirantha Peries in Kohuwala. The main purpose of this range was to support and provide training facilities to the national shooters — junior and senior — prior to international meets, after the NSSF heavily relied on state support to build a permanent national shooting range.

Two years on, this makeshift facility still serves an important purpose for shooting sports in Sri Lanka, with the introduction of electronic target shooting facilities, a first in the country. Most of Sri Lanka’s shooters, who usually compete on manual target facilities with pellets at domestic competitions, however are used to electronic targets when they represent the country at international meets.

The introduction of electronic targets to Sri Lanka at this point comes as more than a blessing. Even Sri Lanka’s only indoor shooting range, situated inside the Welisara Naval Base, uses manual targets. With the present atmosphere created during the past 12 months globally due to the pandemic, the NSSF’s timely introduction of electronic targets will help local shooters qualify to the inaugural Asian Online Shooting Championship 2021, which will be held on January 29 and 30.

“Both these — the electronic targets and the Asian Online competition — are firsts for NSSF and Sri Lanka. Sri Lanka has competed at South Asian level, but this is the first time our shooters will compete at Asian level. The trials are underway, through which we will be informed by the organisers if our shooters have qualified. The entire process happens in real time and is linked to the regional base in Kuwait,” explained Pradeep Edirisinghe, the Secretary of NSSF.

With the NSSF failing to secure a permanent land to execute its plan to build a comprehensive National Shooting Range, which would include all disciplines, as well as a separate section to promote the sport among the general public, as a leisure activity and sport, it has now shouldered to protect the quality of the sport to meet and maintain standards.

Local shooters took part in a trial session with the new electronic targets at Kohuwala

The ‘makeshift’ range on a land, which was supposed to be the warehouse and garage facility of the incumbent NSSF president’s business establishment, has for the past two years been a location frequented by national shooters and coaches.

“The NSSF is undoubtedly thankful to our current President, for letting the federation utilise his property free of charge. Even this temporary range and the electronic shooting targets would not be a reality if not for his commitment to the sport. We can only sincerely hope that our local shooters would take the maximum out of it to help Sri Lanka win medals,” added Edirisinghe, who personally provided his expertise to build the Kohuwela range and install the electronic targets.

Presently some members of the national shooting squad are involved in a trial meet to qualify for the Asian Online competition in 10m Air Rifle and 10m Air Pistol individual events for Men and Women. The trials will be an ideal opportunity for the NSSF to evaluate the new electronic targets and its functional aspects and for the shooters to accurately aim again at their targets.

“The trials are a good lead up to the NSSF as this is the first time Sri Lanka is taking part in an Online Asian competition. At our local competitions the whole process is done manually, but the outcome at electronic targets happens in real time. We can fully rely on the accuracy of the process, as during the competitions the Asian Shooting Federation will monitor entirely from Kuwait,” Edirisinghe explained.

Pradeep Edirisinghe

The guidelines issued by the Kuwait Shooting Federation, the organisers of the competition, says that three participants per discipline from each country, will be given the opportunity to compete. In Air Rifle and Air Pistol for both Men and Women, three shooters each must qualify based on the minimum qualifying standards instructed by the organisers.

Simultaneously skeet and trap events will take place during the same period on January 29 and 30, but Sri Lanka will be able to take part only in the skeet with the NSSF inaugurating its event calendar for 2021 with the Skeet Open this weekend at Payagala.

“The top three shooters from the Skeet Open will automatically qualify for the Asian Online. But Air Rifle and Air Pistol shooters from all countries must qualify,” Edirisinghe said.

The Asian Online competition will start from 10.00am local time in each country at their respective shooting ranges and updates will be monitored in real time by the organisers based in Kuwait. The respective countries taking part must provide facilities to shooters under strict health guidelines. International (ISSF) qualified independent local judges in each country will officiate the matches, before submitting the approved report with results to Kuwait.

“We will begin starting shooting from 10.00am as instructed at this temporary facility in Kohuwala and at the Clay Target Shooting Club of Colombo’s shotgun range facility in Payagala. We, as the NSSF must take the responsibility for an honest report and these results are totally based on mutual understanding between the local bodies and the regional office,” he further explained.

The NSSF will continue this exercise during the coming months as international meets are yet to resume since early 2020, due to the pandemic and global travel restrictions. However, the introduction of electronic targets to Sri Lanka is a welcome sign for NSSF, as it will have the ability to provide its shooters a facility they could only experience overseas.

With the new development, the NSSF is making the impossible occur at a time when the sport is battered by global health restrictions and infrastructure setbacks domestically. Yet, as always, they are aiming high.

Share This Post


Advertising Rates

Please contact the advertising office on 011 - 2479521 for the advertising rates.