Pistol shooter gets national colours

By John Tuerijama

PISTOL shooting received a lifeline when Namibian pistol shooter Leon Heyns was presented with national colours for the first-time to compete at the German International Open Championship from 2 to 11 August.

Speaking to this publication Heyns said it is a milestone that the sport code got the recognition from the Namibia Sport Commission (NSC). He added that in 2017 Namibia brought home five medals at the very same competition and that he aims to clinch two to three medals.

“I will compete at the precision against 300 other competitors and I will also double up as an official. I am very well prepared and will represent the country with pride and commitment,” said Heyns.

The confident Heyns further said pistol shooting is an individual sport and not a team sport where you can rely on your teammates and that it requires precision shooting. He said there will be an Annual General Meeting (AGM) to elect a new leadership with 22 countries expected to be part of the meeting.

He added that apart from Namibia, neighbouring South Africa will also have representatives, but any interested person can take part in the competition.

“Having anyone in the world compete makes the competition more unique and special. The outcome will distinguish the country by performance. People completely misunderstand the sport and it is one of the sports that require focus, commitment and dedication, just like karate which is a precision sport. I am committed to the sport.”

He said the event will be competitive, but Heyns is confident of a good showing in Germany. Apart from being presented with the national colours, the Namibia Sport Shooting Federation (NSSF) got the blessing from the NSC to bid for the hosting of the 2021-2023 PPC 1500 World Championship.

The NSC granted permission for Heyns to submit a bid on behalf of Namibia at the upcoming WA 1500 AGM. However the NSC has given conditions to the NSSF for bidding, in that the federation must cover budgeted items at own cost and that the federation engage the relevant authorities (police, defence force and correctional services) in respect of compliance with relevant regulations.

The NSC further said that it was the Commission’s wish to see the sport of shooting grow and that it be more accessible to the broader society. The Commission encouraged the NSSF to be introspective by engaging Nampol, NDF and the Namibia Correctional Services to ensure that more athletes are introduced to the sport, as this would render inclusive participation of potential athletes, as it enable Namibia to be more competitive at future events.

Heyns, however, expressed disappointment with the debate currently ongoing regarding the new gun law adding that it will negatively impact the sport and that contribution must also come from the those who play the sport.

Asked about the introduction of shooting in the regions, NSC Chief Administrator Freddy Mwiya said the Commission has advised the shooting federation to engage the uniform forces if they want the sport to grow.

“They have told us that that it is their strategic plan to engage and open up to the uniform forces. Shooting is an expensive sport that is mainly played by one ethnic group which is not secret,” said the chief administrator.

Mwiya added that the Sport Act does provide for uniform forces sport and that they (NSC) have  encouraged the (uniform forces) to establish an umbrella body just like in school sports and tertiary educational institutions.

He said the uniform forces have had exceptional athletes in boxing, marathon and have a very successful national volleyball league.

Mwiya added that the Commission will continue encouraging Namibians to take shooting as a sport that will in turn help the country to do well at international sport competitions like the Commonwealth Games and the Olympic summer games.