Shooting: NZ aiming for glory in pistol competition

By Gary Hamilton-Irvine

Pistol shooting runs in the blood for Colin Bell, who worked as a gunsmith in Johannesburg.

He moved to Rotorua five years ago where he has been a standout representative for the Rotorua Pistol Club.

He is competing today in the biggest pistol shooting competition the country has seen - the International Practical Shooting Confederation Australasia 2013 Handgun Championship.

The four-day competition, which started yesterday, is in Rotorua for the first time with more than 750 competitors shooting for 25 countries.

The relatively unknown sport of practical shooting sees competitors racing around obstacle-laden courses shooting targets as quickly and accurately as possible.

Bell said it was hard to predict how well his four-man New Zealand production pistol team would go, with many international sides looking strong.

"For most New Zealanders [pistol shooting] is just fun, but a lot of these guys do it professionally. They are paid to shoot."

Bell, along with all the other competitors, will be shooting 24 stages during the four days, which are all different.

One stage will see competitors sitting in a canoe before firing away at targets.

"The main thing [I like about the sport] is it's different all the time and we don't stand and shoot in the same spot over and over."

He said scores are added up according to a shooter's accuracy and speed during each stage. Bell said that he was definitely better at speed rather than accuracy.

He said the sport had changed quite a bit over the years with tighter gun laws.

He said in the "olden days" shooters would dress in camouflage, which is now banned, and would shoot at targets shaped as people in real-life scenarios, such as hostages and criminals.

The competition starts at 8am each morning with shooting going late into the afternoon.

The categories include open, production, standard, revolver and classic pistol shooting, which relates to the type of pistol and modifications made to each pistol.

The country with the best score in the five categories will be crowned champions.

The Rotorua Pistol Club, on Mead Rd, has spent three years preparing for the competition, upgrading their facilities from eight shooting ranges to 32.

The facility is now the biggest in the southern hemisphere, according to club president Don Perry.

An opening ceremony was held at the Village Green on Monday to welcome all the competitors.

The International Practical Shooting Confederation Australasia 2013 Handgun Championship is every three years.

Spectators are welcome to attend the event.

- Rotorua Daily Post

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