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Step in the right direction

The sport of shooting has a long history and tradition on our island and this is emphasised by the significant popularity shooting sports had and continue to have, especially in the various emerging disciplines within the sport.

Numerous shooting ranges are situated across Malta and Gozo which cater for those who enjoy shooting, but until recently, no national structure was in place to localise and organise this multidisciplinary sport and create a framework upon which to further promote shooting. It is for this reason that the Malta National Shooting Range was developed.

Currently, the range comprises four shotgun layouts for clay pigeon shooting, with further plans to expand and build a rifle and pistol range. The perimeter of the range is bordered by a wall around 100 metres ahead of the shooting layouts.

The primary scope for having a wall ahead of the range is to ensure that clay fragments, as well as lead, land on this wall and are then able to be collected for recycling purposes.

The wall also serves two important purposes to a clay target shooter. The first is that the wall gives a consistent background for everyone who is shooting on the range.

In clay pigeon shooting, target acquisition and recognition is one of the most important aspects of all disciplines, and so by having a wall in place, the target can be seen clearly by all shooters in all visibility conditions making it a fair and better background for all.

The second benefit is that such a wall limits the impact of wind on the targets. However, the wall itself is not high enough to insulate the range completely from the wind, and given its proximity to the airport, there are few natural or man-made structures to deflect the wind. It is for these reasons that a complex and sophisticated technology was introduced.

A set of tall pylons was installed on top of the wall and from these pylons, curtains of netting were draped. The netting is a composite textile with abrasion and impact resistant properties to reduce the wind force and prevent any stray lead shot from landing beyond the wall.

As a country we were great hosts to our competitors and pioneered a new way to design and build shooting ranges

Although the system does require tweaking, it is an effective means of improving the sustainability of the complex by ensuring that close to 100 per cent of lead shot is collected at the base of the wall and recycled, along with clay fragments.

As a young sport shooter myself, I do look forward to training and competing in this new facility. I have a passion and strive to be the best shooter I can be and bring even more success for Malta in this sport. This means starting from scratch with a new gun and learning a new shooting discipline, as the double trap discipline is being phased out.

This can only be achieved by further training, and for this I am grateful to my parents and coach for their constant support. Balancing my studies and sport career is challenging, as I am currently reading for a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering and this does limit the time I can devote to shooting, often having to compromise either my studies or shooting at any point to compensate for the other. However, this is the path I’ve chosen and I am committed to seeing it through to the end.

It was fitting that such a complex hosted an edition of the 2018 International Shooting Sport Federation World Cup. This competition was the largest shooting competition ever held on the island, attracting hundreds of athletes and teams from more than 100 nations to compete for the prestigious title of the world cup winner in each respective discipline.

It was a very memorable competition. It did flow relatively smoothly throughout the whole week, with many foreign athletes having words of praise for the complex. Amid a few technical hiccups in the final two days of the competition, as a country we were great hosts to our competitors and pioneered a new way to design and build shooting ranges.

This was my first experience with the Maltese national shooting team as a member of the trap discipline. Having only been training in trap for a couple of months, it was unlikely for me to match the expertise and level of foreign shooters during the World Cup, the majority of whom had been shooting trap for years, but it was an eye-opening experience to keep in mind what level I should attain.

Shooting for your country, in your own country, may have been slightly intimidating, but it was an honour to be part of what we shooters consider to be “a dream come true” – the dream of finally having a proper shooting range.

Gianluca Chetcuti participated in the ISSF World Cup.

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