More shooting woes

THE GAME OF MY LIFE - Bill Velasco - The Philippine Star

The problems of the Philippine National Shooting Association (PNSA) unearthed during the press conference called by PNSA Chairman Emeritus Luis “Chavit” Singson last Thursday continue to pile up. The STAR has learned that the shooters sent to the International Shooting Sport Federation (ISSF) World Cup Shotgun in Lonato de Garda in Italy in July had not cleared a score of 100 in either the Olympic skeet or Olympic trap events. The Minimum Qualifying Score (MQS) for Olympic skeet is 114 / 125, while the MQS for Olympic trap is 112 / 125. The results were dismal: DNFs (Did Not Finish) – a mortal sin in any competition – and scores at the bottom of their respective events.

The most glaring issue of all is the intentional exclusion from the national team of young Carlo Valdez, a brilliant air pistol shooter who has consistently proven his ability to top the field. In February, Valdez competed in the ISSF World Cup in Jakarta. The 22-year-old finished sixth in the individual event and pulled the mixed team to a similar finish in the finals. Unfortunately, in the middle of the final round, when shooters are meant to focus on their performance, PNSA foreign coach Murad reportedly yelled at Valdez, loudly and publicly telling him that he did not know how to shoot. What kind of coach would do that to a member of his own team?

Valdez’s parents were outraged, and saw how traumatic this was for their soft-spoken son. They notified the PNSA top officials, and wrote the association board. Nothing was done regarding the incident. Training independently, Valdez has consistently registered near-record scores in the 580’s out of a possible 600, which would put him among the elite shooters in the world. Yet, the PNSA insists on having him train with a coach who mercilessly destroys his confidence. Furthermore, Valdez has allegedly been excluded from signing the attendance sheet required by the Philippine Sports Commission, which means he has not been receiving his allowance as a national athlete.

Furthermore, in the previous World Cup Shotgun, the coaches reported that supposedly, only 5,662 rounds and 125 clay training targets were consumed. Yet, the PNSA reported that 12,000 rounds and 540 clay training targets were used. What happened to the excess ammunition and clay targets?

Most puzzling of all is the disappearance of two 20-foot container vans filled with clay targets. National shooters themselves pooled their money – close to P2 million – to import the said targets to aid in their practice. The containers were at the PSC Trap and Skeet Shooting Range at the Bureau of Corrections Compound in Muntinlupa City. Since January, the concerned shooters have been inquiring about the whereabouts of the targets from PNSA secretary-general Iryne Garcia and other officials, as well as the PSC. After an investigation, Commissioner Fritz Gaston, the PSC board member to whom shooting was assigned, turned over his report. Unfortunately, it did not include the vital annexes, all the evidence such as guards’ log books and so on, which would substantiate the report.

Perhaps it’s time that the PSC exercised its oversight powers again. Let’s not use the excuse that it will be a distraction for the Asian Games. Some of the same unqualified shooters are not qualified, anyway. Besides, after the Asian Games, more issues will crop up in other sports. The time to do it is now. Why let the opportunity slip by?

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