The National Shooting Sport Federation of Sri Lanka (NSSF) had a list of 21 meets on its events calendar for 2020, but with the outbreak of coronavirus in March, they too had to hold back operation as other sports bodies of the country. Among the lineup of events NSSF was committed to hold 10 local events and take part in 11 international meets this year.
But with the pandemic easing out its affect and restrictions ceasing, the NSSF is optimistic of holding most of its planned local events. The NSSF was only able to oblige one from its listed total events of
21 – the H.H. the Amir of Kuwait 9th International Shooting Grand Prix in Kuwait held through January 10 and 17 with three athletes representing Sri Lanka.
The NSSF was gearing up to host its Open Rifle and Pistol Championship at the SLNS, Gemunu Range in Welisara, now identified as a fully barred area by local health authorities. The meet was planned to be held during the final week of March, but with the outbreak of the pandemic, the competition was postponed. Among the 10 local meets planned for 2020 four Rifle, Pistol and Air Gun competitions were to be held at the SLNS Gemunu Range in Welisara with the remaining six -- all Trap and Skeet Shot Gun competitions, slotted to be held at the Shooting Range in Payagala.
With the latest development, where entry and exit has been totally barred at the Naval Range in Welisara, the NSSF is looking at possibilities of conducting the Shot Gun events in Payagala. NSSF President Shirantha Peries was optimistic that authorities of Ministry of Sports would treat their effort in bringing back life to the now inactive sports events, by supporting shooting sports in a positive manner.
“We can definitely follow the guidelines issued by health authorities and conduct meets with restrictions, since shooting is a non-contact sport. We can ensure that all instructions will be duly followed, while also assuring the safety of the athletes,” Peries stated. Last year, the NSSF could not complete its planned Trap and Skeet meets at the Shooting Range in Payagala due to security concerns, following the terrorist attacks on Easter Sunday.
Prior to that to that, a circular issued by the then Secretary to the Ministry of Defence hampered activities in clay target shooting for few months. Eventually none occurred during the rest of 2019 at Payagala or any other shotgun ranges elsewhere. But this year, six out of the total 10 local events were planned to be held in Payagala with special permission.
“We have to make a start from somewhere. There is a major concern about holding the Rifle, Pistol and Air Gun meets at Welisara with the present situation caused by the pandemic. But we can certainly make a start by having our clay target meets at Payagala, which is ideally situated in a isolated area,” Pradeep Edirisinghe, the General Secretary of NSSF, stated.
However, the NSSF is looking at possibilities of creating an Air Gun shooting range with the capacity of 10 lanes, perhaps a makeshift facility with the intention of serving two purposes. “The intention is not only to hold the possible air gun, air rifle and air pistol events under issued guidelines, but also to provide the shooters of the national squad a facility they could practice. We are working diligently to make these intentions a possibility and resurrect NSSF activities with the assurance of following the health guidelines and the safety of athletes,” added Edirisinghe.
The SLNS Gemunu Range in Welisara was the venue for the NSSF Open Rifle/Pistol Championship, NSSF Open Air Gun Championship, Navy Open Shooting Championship and NSSF National Rifle/Pistol Championship. The six events lined up to be held at the Shooting Range in Payagala were CTSC Trap Open Championship, NSSF Trap Open Meet, NSSF Skeet Open Meet, Magnum and Wayamba Trap Open Championship, NSSF Skeet National Championship and NSSF Trap National Championship.