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Sammy Onyango: Coaching shooters is more than just a command


Sammy Onyango (Left) and Ernst Bester(right) display their Firearms Instructor badges at Spes Bona shooting range in Touwrivier, South Africa. (Photo: Caroline Obuya, Standard)

“Our ladies have not ripened enough to take up roles as shooting sports coaches in the country. A few can make it to assistant coaches. A good number are safety officers though, “says Sammy Onyango – Trainer and Competitions Captain at the National Gun Owners of Kenya (NGAO-K) Sports Federation, as he weighs in on athletes’ gender identification, during a One on One with Caroline Obuya.

 What can you say about the level of the ladies’ skills in becoming coaches?

Most ladies have attained the level of becoming assistant coaches. For you to be a trainer or instructor, you need to go through certain levels of training and courses so as to be approved as a certified instructor.

What goes into training for one to become a coach?

Sports shooting requires a high level of precision, consistency and stability from the shooter. Errors can cost you not just points, but can also put other people in harm’s way.

A lot goes into both psychological and fitness training to improve performance of the shooters to reach their maximum level.

What officiating roles are currently held by ladies during matches?

We have a good number of ladies who are Safety Officers (SOs, they have been frequent International Defensive Pistol Association (IDPA) and International Practical Association (IPSC) shooters.

The main roles played by SOs are to set up the Course of Fire (CoF, efficiently and safely manage flow of shooters through the match, ensure the safety of the shooter and bystanders on the range, help the shooter to complete the course of fire correctly and enjoy the match, handle the shooter using correct and concise range commands and to enforce IDPA rules so that match is conducted in a fair and impartial manner

 We have seen gender identification issues in sports like athletics; have such issues ever come up in shooting sports?

LGBTQ is a very heated topic in Kenya. Some of us have been brought up in a very Christian background. I was brought up in a Christian family and I was an altar boy for a very long time. Some of my brothers are priests today.

When you come from a strong Christian background or a staunch Muslim background, you’d find that some of these things don’t auger well with most. They will always refer to the bible or the Koran.

When members come to register at NGAO-Kenya, we do not go digging into their personal matters of wanting to know they are members of this or that group. But we do dig more into their conduct and ability to uphold our policies in the club.

When registering as a member of IDPA - whose headquarters is in the USA, the website identifies three areas; male, female and they have an option called others.

If those people are within others, then they are within the constitution of IDPA within the others.

Though they have their own rights within the ‘others’ that others is what me I don’t identify myself with. Where their rights stop my rights begin and where my rights begin their rights stop.

They should not influence that I should accept them as they are, same as I don’t want to force them to accept me as I am. Everybody with their own space. That is how we need to look into it.

With the African tradition, our culture and Christianity the ‘other’ is a no no. That is how it is.

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