With new electronic range system, shooting sets sight on six SEA Games gold medals
A hush fell over the National Shooting Centre (NSC) as Nicole Tan raised her weapon to take aim.
One crack, then another came from Tan's pistol and, almost immediately, a loud "Yes!" erupted from the watching Singapore camp.
Tan won a bronze medal in the South-east Asia Shooting Championship's (Seasa) Women's 25m pistol event yesterday - behind Malaysia's gold medallist Alia Sazana and runner-up Le Thi Hoang Ngoc from Vietnam - and the instant reaction from the watching gallery was made possible by the NSC's new electronic range system.
The system will not only inject more excitement for the spectators, but also the way local shooters train.
It will now allow the Republic to host major events and present a unique opportunity for the sport to grow.
With the new facility in place, Singapore Shooting Association (SSA) president Michael Vaz has set a six-gold target for next year's South-east Asia Games which the Republic will host, with an eye on an Olympic medal in the future.
"These facilities are driven to bring some excitement back to shooting, (which has been viewed as) a dead sport," Vaz said on the sidelines of the Seasa, hosted in Singapore for the first time in over a decade.
In the past, the NSC functioned on paper targets that saw long waiting times between the completion of shooting and the calculation of results.
Now it utilises electronic targets and an electronic scoring system that instantly updates scores and rankings.
"Our results in the past were achieved (training) on paper targets, and Singapore shooting has done well. Now, with a world-class facility, I think we will be able to do more," said Vaz.
"Our high-performance team told the Singapore National Olympic Council that the (SEA Games) target is six gold medals. We're (also) looking at an Olympic medal in 2020."
In addition to the new electronic targets, the NSC has seen an increase in the number of 25-metre ranges, up to 40 from 20, with a finals range for the clay event - the first in the region - and a 60-lane air-weapon range, still in the works.
All these changes are aimed at making Singapore a viable venue for major competitions, a move that will grow the sport's eco-system here.
"We want to host four major games a year, and holding events here will help everyone in shooting to gain experience," said Vaz.
He added that hosting major competitions will help SSA staff, technical officials, judges, range managers, referees and shooters to get more international experience under their belts.
"It's wonderful. Competitions are more efficient and less stressful," said Tan of the convenience made possible by the electronic targets.
"It helps momentum... helps you to spot your shot and, if you know it's a good shot, it helps remind you how to do it again. Consistency is really important in the sport," said the 24-year-old army lieutenant.
"This will definitely help improve shooting in Singapore."