British international referee Colin Watson was the guest of honour as the Malta Shooting Sport Federation (MSSF) held the opening event in connection with the annual UK Eley-NSRA Target Shooting competitions.

Watson, who has been selected to officiate in next year’s Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, presided over shoots in both air-rifle and air-pistol at the Bidnija ranges.

The competition was run smoothly also thanks to the contribution of local international referee Gino Galea who was assisted by Lilian Calleja.

A record number of shooters took part. Results have been sent to the English National Smallbore Rifle Association for classification purposes as the Eley-NSRA format enables shooters from different countries to compete in the same event without the need to travel.

In air-rifle, it was a great day for the young shooters.

Gianluca Azzopardi and Isaac Zammit were second and third respectively with a remarkable equal score of 361/400 points at the end of the qualification round. Alison Vella was first with 374.

In the finals, some of the top positions changed with Wayne Galea, a newcomer, claiming second place and Azzopardi third. Vella retained her first place.

The air-pistol competition was also hotly contested with four shooters in contention for the gold medal.

In qualifying, an excellent score of 366/400 from veteran Ray Cacciattolo landed him top spot in the provisional leaderboard, followed by Eleanor Bezzina (358) and this year’s Eley-NSRA gold medallist Mario Mallia Milanes – 351.

After the finals, the leaderboard changed with Stephen Vassallo claiming the honours following a superb final shoot of 190.1 points.

Cacciattolo had to settle for second 3.3 points behind. Bezzina was third with 148.9 points.

Watson, who presented medals and mementoes to the winners, praised the level of organisation at the competition and encouraged the local federation to maintain its efforts to raise the level of target shooting in Malta.


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