By Brian Tobia, Games News Service
PORT MORESBY, July 13 – Papua New Guinea’s fifth-place overall finish in the Port Moresby 2015 Pacific Games shooting competition is the beginning of a new era for the sport in PNG.
The Games helped to measure the progress of PNG shooters in a sport that has been dormant for many years in the country, and was revived only 12 months ago. There are now big plans for developing shooting in PNG.
A least that is the vision of a long-time shooter at the Port Moresby Shooting Club, veteran Air Niugini pilot and member of the PNG men’s shotgun team, Andy Wanma.
The chief executive officer of LinkPNG, a subsidiary of Air Niugini, has been shooting since his childhood in Manus province.
“Firearms and I started many years ago when I was a little boy following my uncles and going hunting for birds, cuscus and wild boars. I guess I got affiliated with firearms at an early age from high school,” Wanma said.
Firearms remained part of his life while he studied physics and mathematics at the University of Papua New Guinea, before enlisting in the PNG Defence Force, where he spent 10 years.
“When I became a civilian I joined the Port Moresby Shooting Club and have continued shooting for 22 years now,” Wanma said.
“I shot mostly rifles and pistols and just took up shotgun in the last seven months. For me, this particular sport is new but interesting. We travelled to and from Brisbane in the last seven months for coaching at the Brisbane Gun Club.”
Team PNG performed adequately in shotgun but extremely well in pistol at Port Moresby 2015, with the women’s team winning one gold, two silver and three bronze medals.
Wanma said the Games enabled the Port Moresby Shooting Club to recruit young talent into the club that has been in existence for nearly 40 years, but which had seen little activity in the past 15 years.
“We revived it in the last 12 months and we hope that the Pacific Games will give us publicity for us to attract new members. All in all, we managed not to come at the bottom and this is encouraging for PNG. We have few juniors taking up the sport and we would like to encourage more juniors to join,” said Wanma.
One barrier to gaining new participants in shooting is the expense of the sport, with members being required to buy guns and the ammunition that comes with them.
“The future of the sport will be determined by new membership. No members means no club, no participation and the sport dies. We need new members in pistol, shotgun and rifle. Rifle is dormant at the moment so we are trying to revive it. It’s a rewarding sport and shot around the region,” Wanma said.
“The Games Organising Committee has invested significantly by building new infrastructure and we hope to raise our profile a bit more.”
Wamna also advised those carrying weapons for security, just not for sport, to become members.
“A lot of people in PNG carry weapons for security but about 90 per cent of them do not know how to use them. We encourage them to come and join the club and we can coach them how to use the weapons properly,” Wanma said.