Consequently, Malaysian hunters began to treat shooting seriously as they saw for themselves that it was indeed an Olympic sport and recognized at the highest level by the world’s governing body, UIT (now ISSF) and IOC. Malaysian shooting enthusiasts began to switch in droves to competitive shooting when they realized that they could earn fame and recognition by representing the country in the Southeast Asian Games, Asian Games, Commonwealth Games, Olympics and other continental and regional championships.
Instead of chasing the wild in deep jungles, local shooters took part in Inter-State shooting competitions, eventually graduating to national level championships. By 1951, they were taking part in the New Delhi Asian Games and nine years later, local shooters participated in the 1960 Rome Olympics. From then on, there was no looking back. In a matter of 11 years from its birth, Malaysian shooters had made steady progress in the sport. They had transformed from a bunch of weekend hunters to competitive shooters.
Gangling Ong Hock Eng had the honour of being the first Malaysian trap shooter to represent Malaysia in the 1960 Rome Olympics. While he was enthusiastic and determined, he was no match for the more advanced shooters due to a lack of proper gear and equipment. If a current trap shooter were to go into a range without a shooting vest, a hunting rifle and sparkling leather shoes, one would think of him as a misfit. But in Hock Eng’s case, it was his first venture in the Olympics. So it was amusing for others to see him in a short-sleeved shirt, a hunting shotgun and a pair of office leader shoes lining up against the world’s best.
Malaysia really came to the fore in the seventies with the likes of Ally Ong, Yap Pow Thong, Chen So Yim and Edmund Yong. They teamed up well to virtually sweep everything before them in Southeast Asia starting in the 1973 Seap Games, now known as the Sea Games.
Malaysia’s strength in shotgun continued in the eighties with the likes of renowned shooters like Jimmy Chin, Vincent Teo, Sunny Hon and Kaw Fung Ying to name a few. They dominated skeet in Southeast Asia. A rare gem unfolded along with the skeet shooters and he was the versatile and mercurial Sabiamad Abdul Ahad. This stocky but sturdy pistol shooter from Kelantan ruled virtually all the five pistol events in Malaysia in the late seventies and early eighties. He won numerous Sea Games gold medals in Free Pistol and Centre Fire. Abdul Mutalib, nicknamed the tough cop, brought honour to the country by winning gold in the air rifle in the first Commonwealth shooting championship.
Major Jasni Shaari was the nation’s first perfect shooter when he scored 600 out of 600 in military competitions in the United States. Major Jasni also brought honour to the nation by being a Southeast Asia Shooting Association shooting championship smallbore rifle champion. The sport also gained popularity amongst women shooters in the eighties and nineties. Some of the prominent names are Nurul Huda Baharin, Bibiana Ng, Rosnani Abu Bakar and Noriha Abdul Rani. For good measure, Nurul won the smallbore gold in the 1998 Commonwealth Games.
Young shooters are fast making a mark for themselves. Bibiana is really blossoming now while others like Mohamad Emran Zakaria, Mohd Sabki, Mohamad Hameleay, Mohd Zainul Akmal Azmi, Wang Wen Chuen, Ahmad Anai, Hasli Izwan, Mohd Firdaus, Nurul Hudda Baharin, Nordailah Abu Bakar, Nur Suryani Mohd Taibi, Nur Ain Chew Abdullah, Roslina Bakar, Mashita Ramli, Suefarinawathy Affendi, Siti Sarah Mohd Ibrahim and Sapiah Pilus are threatening to eclipse the veterans.