x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Nad Al Sheba Shooting tournament hits target with competitors

World and European champion George Digweed, one of the greatest clay pigeon shooters of all-time, was there. As was Richard Faulds, Olympic double-trap champion in 2000.

Wind has made conditions tricky at the Nad Al Sheba Sporting Clays Championship, which ends March 5. Dubai Sports Council
Wind has made conditions tricky at the Nad Al Sheba Sporting Clays Championship, which ends March 5. Dubai Sports Council

DUBAI // World and European champion George Digweed, one of the greatest clay pigeon shooters of all-time, was there. As was Richard Faulds, Olympic double-trap champion in 2000.

Just under 1,000 other competitors were also present as the first Nad Al Sheba Shooting Clays Championships continues, with total prize money of US$735,000 (Dh2.6 million) up for grabs.

Across the first three days of the event, that began on Friday, each competitor shoots 200 times, with the best six shooters advancing to the final stage on Wednesday, when each of the qualifiers gets another 25 attempts.

The results of both stages are then added to decide the winners.

“Incredible tournament – the calibre of the shooters is phenomenal,” said Canada’s Paolo Periti, one of the competitors taking part.

“Targets are very tough, harder than I imagined, but when you have a tournament of this calibre, you need to have tough targets to separate the top shooters.”

Competition started at 8am, Sunday, the third day of shooting, and as the day progressed, conditions got windier.

“It’s windy for everybody,” Periti said. “You start on one side of the road, and then you move to the other side [facing opposite direction], which is a great thing. You get a bit of an advantage, which then turns to a disadvantage.

“No one can complain.”

In an effort to raise the profile of the sport in the region, Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed, Crown Prince of Dubai, instructed organisers to set aside an allocation of $135,000 for the top shooters from the Middle East.

“So far, it’s been an excellent tournament, logistically and a technically ,” said Faisal Al Dehani, a competitor from Kuwait.

“It’s true the wind causes a few difficulties, but that’s shooting. It’s the luck of the draw. The first round we had calm conditions and performed well, and the second was more windy and it was tougher.” For others, such as Periti, the desert terrain brought other challenges.

“I’m from Canada and everything is green there,” he said.

“There are trees everywhere, you can look at branch to get an idea of where the target’s coming out.

“Here, I’m just looking at the sky, wondering where it’ll come from, and it catches me off guard.”

Already Periti is planning a return.

“I’m totally blown away,” he said. “There’s only four Canadians down here. When I get back home, I’ll be spreading the word – tell everybody, start planning right now.”

akhaled@thenational.ae