The development exercise is also intended to create a platform whereby talented juniors get to compete with existing shooters. NSAM believes that that is the way for the sport to go as freshies need systematic exposure and opportunities to improve their standards.
On taking over as president of NSAM in 1987, Ally Ong, himself a top-notch skeet shooter, has been devoting his energy to the never-ending search for new talents. Such was the pace of the transition that his teammates and peers in the seventies and eighties have been totally replaced by new faces. The same scenario occurred in the pistol and rifle events where big timers such as Sabiamad Ahad and Major Jasni Shaari have made way for younger shooters.
Ally’s penchant for development proceeded systematically because he had capable lieutenants in the NSAM deputy president Chia Woh, who is in charge of the Training and Competitions Committee, NSAM adviser Ong Hoon Chin, NSAM chief coach Major Jasni, Abdul Mutlib and to some extent Felix Ho. In turn, they are capably supported by a host of Russian coaches seconded from the National Sports Council.
Of course, there are affiliates who are keen in developing the sport as well. Kelantan, Perak, Sarawak, Johor, Penang, Kedah, Police and Armed Forces have been actively pursuing in this direction. The grooming exercise was mapped out as early as 1980 when ex-president Tun Tan Siew Sin and his deputy Ally, outlined their development plans. They targeted the Police and Armed Forces as the two were uniformed personnel.
Ally observed that in the seventies and eighties, there were few young shooters from SSA. Those active SSA members were mainly shooting alongside the Army and Police shooters in competitions and very few of them, except for the skeet and trap shooters, made it internationally.
The need to prepare young shooters was made all the more pressing due to the staging of the Commonwealth Games in Malaysia in 1998 and the Asian Shooting Championships in 2000. In this direction, the National Sports Council (NSC) assisted NSAM in development programmes for the young shooters, particularly in the Malaysia Games (SUKMA).
In 1994, the first ‘SUKMA’ was held in Perak, followed by Kuantan in 1996 and then by Selangor in 1998, Penang in 2000 and Sabah in 2002. Junior shooters from all the States including the Armed Forces and the Police are now competing in SUKMA. NSAM stages an average of six shooting championships annually and to place further emphasis on development, NSAM made it mandatory in 1998 to hold junior championships in parallel with national-level competitions. As a result of this far-sighted move, juniors get to compete alongside their senior counterparts, hone their skills and temperament. To further enhance the talents of young shooters, SSA, NSC, Sports Excel and MILO have been sponsoring two legs of the Junior Air Guns championships since 1999.