The Cayman Islands clay shooting team knows it will be up against full-time world and Olympic champions when competing at the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, Scotland later this month but this tight unit is nevertheless upbeat.
Managed by Kevin Schirn who has led the team since 2001, veterans Eddie McLean and Chris Jackson are joined by teenager Andrew Schirn, Kevin’s son.
Schirn Sr. said that the training has gone well, having recently returned from Bisley, in United Kingdom where they trained with England’s national coach and competed in Dorchester in a regional event.
“I think it was a very productive trip and since we’ve got back we’ve been training three or four times a week on the range,” Schirn said. The Games start on July 23 and the team will arrive a few days before the opening ceremony to familiarize themselves with the range.
He said that Andrew has been showing good form in training and has improved rapidly in the 18 months since taking shooting seriously.
“This is his first big Games and I’m hoping Andrew will do his best and that this will be the start of a few trips in shooting that he will represent Cayman.” Inevitably, Andrew admits that his father’s influence had a lot to do with him getting into the sport. “Dad asked to give it a try and from the start it was pretty natural to me.”
He added that the mental part of shooting is the most difficult because supreme confidence is a vital asset. “You have to be confident of hitting the target so I find it hard sometimes to control my mind.”
Football and fishing are recreational interests but nothing can compare to being on the range. “At least, if we do our best that will be satisfying for us,” Andrew said. From the Bisley trip, he improved his gun positioning, gun handling and mental set-up.
Schirn Jr., an A-level student intending to become an accountant, is in the Olympic skeet and hopes this trip will be an excellent learning experience. For veterans McLean and Jackson this is their fourth Commonwealth Games. They have also been to world championships, Central American and Caribbean Games, Island Games, Pan American Games and World Cups.
McLean shoots in the Olympic skeet too. He said that he is in good form, having trained extremely hard and won some competitions in the past year, the biggest being the regional championships in Gainesville, Florida in January. McLean was second in the regional competition in Bisley a few weeks ago. “I’m shooting pretty good and hoping that I can shoot well enough to make the finals, then we’ll take it from there,” McLean, 43, said. A busy man, he is a firearms instructor for Cayman gun club, imports goods and culls iguanas.
“I’ve got a new team-mate, young Andrew who I’m hoping will continue to shoot with me and he can rejuvenate me, keep me going.”
Jackson, 47, is chief operations officer at the Turtle Farm. He is in the Olympic trap and has been into shooting since his teenage days, loving the competitive edge and challenge of the sport.
None of them have competed in Scotland before and although it is summertime there, the weather can still be severely cold and wet. That does not daunt robust McLean who thrives in cooler temperatures. “We like cold – but not too cold!”