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Beating the men at their own game

The days when women shied away from male-dominated sporting events are slowly coming to an end.

At the recently concluded West Indies Fullbore Rifle Shooting competition, hosted by the Jamaica Rifle Association at the Twickenham Park Jamaica Defence Force range, four women rose to the occasion and held their own among the over 50 men who participated in the competition.

The women - Valerie Newman (Jamaica), Sherry Power of the London Middlesex Rifle Association (LMRA), Jennifer Cousins and Shellyann Hinds (Barbados) showed that they had earned their place in the tournament and were here to stay.

Newman placed second in the individual X Class event on 130.14 behind winner Andrew Wilde (134.19) of the (LMRA), edging out Ransford Goodluck of Guyana who placed third on 130.10 and emerged as one of the top X-Class individual shooters.

Benefits of preparation

Newman stated that she had prepared well for the competition, and was happy that she had found a competitive edge in a male-dominated sport.

"The sport was introduced to me as a pastime. It is challenging but it is also fun, at times. It is good when you realise that you have found a sport that you can actually beat the men at," she said.

Meanwhile, Power, who has been shooting for just over a year and is a member of the Ontario Rifle Association, explained that her experience has been good, especially the fact that she gets the opportunity to travel to various countries to compete.

Plans to improve

Although her performance was not as good as she had expected, Power was sure she would continue to improve her form.

"It's my first real tour, but it was a really good experience. I would have liked the results to have been better but, for a sport that challenges you mentally and physically, I think my performance was average," she said.

Cousins, a former soldier in the Barbados Defence Force, stated that shooting helps her to relax.

"I love the game. When I am shooting I feel like a real woman. And, thankfully, it doesn't have an age limit," she said.

Hinds concluded that since she started shooting two years ago, she has learnt to be more disciplined, and it has helped her to concentrate better.