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Skeet Club targets membership

LeVaughn Flynn, Staff Reporter

Amid the celebrations on Monday night at the Jamaica Skeet Club awards banquet, at Jade Garden Restaurant, president Errol Ziadie lamented the club's declining membership.

At the club's annual All Jamaica Shotgun Championships, which ended on the weekend, only 45 members took part, compared to 80 the previous year.

Ziadie said the club and its members have been feeling the effects of the global economic crunch.

"It's an expensive sport," Ziadie pointed out shortly after collecting the award for overall champion. "Ammunition is expensive. We use hundreds at a time and the price of lead is going up."

Ziadie, who is Jamaica's only shooter with the master-class rank, added that a less-expensive alternative is being explored.

"We're looking at using steel shots, which would be cheaper and more environmentally friendly."

Ziadie pointed out that keeping the club vibrant and attracting new members are important as it hoped to produce an Olympic qualifier one day.

"We want to get to the Olympics. The Sports Development Foundation has given us some money to buy some equipment, and we're working towards the 2012 Olympics in London," Ziadie stated.

Ziadie collected six awards on Monday night after edging his son and last year's champ, Geoffrey, by one point on Sunday. Winning this year had special meaning for the veteran shooter, who earned his master class in 2000 and a year later finished a reputable 16th from 650 entrants at the World Championships.

Really special

"Nothing happens before its time. I've tried so many times before and to do it at this stage of my life is really a blessing." said Ziadie, whose son, Geoffrey, and grandson, Chad, also collected several awards. "To beat Ian Banks and Geoffrey, two of the best shooters this island will ever see, is really special."

Joanna Banks won the female section, while Richard Azan Jr was crowned Junior Champion, and Chad, Sub Junior Champion.

Fourteen-year-old Richard, who won eight awards, has been in the sport for six years and first started by emulating his father.

"I started off with a toy gun and would follow my dad around and do as he did," Richard recalled. "I participated in my first tournament when I was eight years old and shot about 30 (out of 100)," added Richard, who won the junior championship with 307 hits out of 400.

Richard said he also enjoys playing tennis and golf, but loves the sportsmanship of skeet.

"I enjoy the people most of all. No matter who wins or loses, it's always a lot of fun."

The All Jamaica Shotgun Championships was sponsored by Appleton Estate, Fidelity Motors and Wisynco.