On Assignment
Taking a Shot at the Home Team Games
Shooting the pistol for the first time and competing alongside the Permanent Secretary for Home Affairs – our reporter shares his experience at the Home Team Games.

It was my first day returning to the Home Team Academy Shooting Range. As a Full-time National Serviceman with the Singapore Police Force (SPF), being in the Range brought me back to my days as a Trainee – everything I knew about how to shoot a revolver was learnt in this very building. 

But this moment was different; for the first time, I was stepping into the realm of competitive shooting and representing the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) at the Home Team Games, where I would compete against top pistol shooters from across the Home Team.

By National Service standards I was a Marksman, but the pistol and revolver were different types of handguns, which meant that I had some learning to do. 

How a pistol is loaded and the way it is gripped is different from a revolver. And while it’s generally easier to use, the pistol doesn’t come with a laser sight that’s available in a revolver, making it, in my opinion, harder to aim especially from far distances.

Though I’d only used a revolver before, learning how to handle a new weapon was an intriguing learning experience. Within two hours, I think I got the hang of it.
 
Home Team Games
The CZ P-07 pistol. PHOTO: Muhamad Khair

The Realm of Competitive Shooting
Fortunately, I wasn’t going to be alone, and found comfort in having four teammates by my side.

But competitive shooting is a different league from training sessions during National Service – there are different stages and various competitive elements that make it more exciting. In this case, the competition comprised three stages and shooters had to race against the clock to complete each stage. 

The first round tested a shooter’s accuracy at various distances that went as far as 20 metres – a feat even for those blessed with 20/20 vison like myself. By this distance, the target fades to a blur and all you can do is hope for the best.

Home Team Games
X marks the spot: Waiting in anticipation for the target boards to return, hoping that the 9mm bullets fall within the scoring range. PHOTO: Muhamad Khair

In round two, the challenge was to gun down two circular plates, before being allowed to shoot at the target board. The concept was simple: Use the least amount of bullets to take down the plates, and you’d have more ammo for the target board. This would increase your chances of scoring more points.

Home Team Games
PS Pang taking a shot at the second stage of the competition. Photo: Muhamad Khair

The third and final round was the team event, which was my favourite.

After all, it’s not every day that you get to shoot alongside your Permanent Secretary (PS), Mr Pang Kin Keong, who also happens to be the record holder in the Head of Department shooting category, having set the top score back in 2008. To date, his record remains undefeated.

Is Shooting a Real Sport?

A colleague had mentioned that she didn’t consider shooting a real sport because it lacked physical rigour. And given the deceptively simple nature of the sport, I don’t blame her.

Rather, competitive shooting is a sport that demands mental strength - the lack of physical exertion doesn’t make it any easier.

There are many aspects of the sport that shooters have to manage. Trying to nail the technical elements – such as stance, grip and aim – is hard enough, but in addition, the shots also have to be well-timed; shoot too fast and you compromise on accuracy, but take too long and you’ll run out of time.

Home Team Games
Having a solid stance is one of the most crucial aspects of shooting. PHOTO: Muhamad Khair 

And it can take years to master. I managed to strike up a conversation with the competition’s record holder, a veteran officer from the Gurkha Contingent, who revealed that he’d been shooting for more than six years. 

It’s clear that becoming a great marksman takes time, practice and patience. 

Lessons that Go Beyond the Shooting Range
Taking top honours for shooting at the Home Team Games 2018 were the teams from the SPF, Central Narcotics Bureau and Singapore Prison Service – wins that were well-deserved. In the end, Team MHA finished outside the top three, but everyone thoroughly enjoyed the whole experience.
 
Home Team Games
Marksmanship skills don’t develop overnight; they have to be nurtured and built up over time. PHOTO: Muhamad Khair

At almost every training session, PS Pang would encourage us to focus on having fun instead of stressing about winning the competition. As the saying goes, it’s the journey that counts, not the destination; winning would’ve felt great, but lessons of patience, perseverance and courage go beyond the confines of the shooting range.

Home Team Games
From NSF to PS: Team MHA was probably the most diverse team at the Range. From left: James Lim, Ng Yeow Boon, PS Pang, Weng Wanyi and myself. PHOTO: HTA

Most importantly, my gratitude goes to the unsung heroes of the Range, our safety officers. They bring life to the Range and played an integral part in our exciting journey.
 
Home Team Games
These friendly faces at the Range have years of experience under their belt. PHOTOS: Muhamad Khair

Keep a lookout for Team MHA’s comeback next year!

  1. by Muhamad Khair
  2. 12 October 2018
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