Barbados’ top marksmen are in prime position to shoot for the stars thanks to improved and upgraded facilities on the island.
That is the view of president of the Barbados Shooting Council, Geoffrey Browne, who says they are already starting to reap the benefits of having a world class facility on the island.
His comments have come following exceptional performances from two of the country’s top young shooters, Tosh Jones and Aiden Johnson at the inaugural Barbados International Trap and Skeet Invitational which was held over the weekend at the Barbados Clay Target Association Range in Searles, Christ Church.
The 16-year-old Jones outperformed his more seasoned rivals from Trinidad and Tobago and the United Kingdom to win the Trapshooting final, while Johnson, 20, placed second.
In an interview with Barbados TODAY, Browne said the upgraded facility was one of the major reasons for Jones and Johnson’s performances.
He said the 17 old machines had been replaced with 34 world class machines between 2021 and 2022.
Barbados currently has one shotgun and four pistol positions for the Central American and Caribbean Games in San Salvador in June, and four shotgun positions for the 2023 Pan American Games scheduled to be held in October in Santiago, Chile.
“We now have two Olympic skeeting track ranges, which is unique to the Caribbean outside of the Dominican Republic, so we are the only island in the Caribbean that has two official Olympic skeeting track ranges. The ISSF (International Shooting Sports Federation) helped us with the machines and the Barbados Olympic Association also helped us with financing to build these facilities.
“We can now produce our athletes and train them on world class grounds and equipment. The same Aiden Johnson and Tosh Jones won the gold and the bronze in the juniors in Lima, Peru at the CAT Games in November…That was our first time ever competing in juniors and our first ever gold medal in shotgun for sure and our first ever gold medal in juniors and that was our first time ever competing in juniors. The new facilities and the new training opportunities and the exposure to international coaches, international competitors, is without a doubt one of the main reasons why,” Browne explained, while revealing that they were also being assisted by the Italian Shooting Federation, which was providing a coach.
“What we’re trying to build is depth and also expose our new shooters to the international standards and international competitors and international coaches.”
Browne disclosed that as a result of the new, upgraded facilities, Barbados had been awarded the 2025 Junior CAT Shotgun Championships.
He described it as a historic moment for the country.
“This is for the Americas, so it’s from Canada all the way down to the US, including Mexico and down to the Caribbean. So we will be hosting the 2025 Championships, which has never been done before,” Browne said.
During last weekend’s competition, Olympian Michael Maskell won the skeeting event, followed closely by another Barbadian Olympian Michelle Elliot, with Trinidad and Tobago’s Luke Hadeed coming in third.