Like they say in the game of shooting sports, “Practice until you can’t get it wrong” Kenya’s pioneer Master shooter Eng Robert Nyamongo and his five co-Masters — the highest rank in International Defensive Pistol Association shooting — are living proof of this adage.
Certified by the International Defensive Pistol Association (IDPA), this is a shooting sport that simulates self-defense scenarios and real-life encounters.
“I was the first black African to be awarded highest rank of Master in International Defensive Pistol Association (IDPA) African Championship, in 2017, in Johannesburg South-Africa,” Nyamongo, an honorary member of the National Gun Owners Association of Kenya (NGAO-K) who was undefeated in pistol competitions in 2018, says.
IDPA classifies shooters as novice, marksman, sharpshooter, expert, master and grand-master.
Usually, the shooter must move and shoot from several positions, fire under or over obstacles, engaging targets immediately they become visible plus any other unfamiliar positions in a bid to solve real-world self-defense scenarios.
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Practical shooting in Kenya is believed to have begun in 1906, when the legion of frontiersmen, who were a company of the East Africa Volunteer Reserve, organised the first-ever competitive target shooting event in the country.
Eng. Nyamongo conducts training for both amateur and top shooters, at NGAO-K, the Kenya Regiment Rifle Club and also coaches the men’s and women’s National Teams and has trained and mentored over 70 per cent of Kenya’s top shooters.
The University of Nairobi trained engineer has been to South Africa and USA to further his skills and is among experts who designed and supervised the construction of the expansive Kirigiti Shooting Range, tucked within the evergreen coffee bushes in Kiambu County.
Apart from Nyamongo, Kenya’s other master shooters are Eric Wachira, Mohammed Omar, Sammy Onyango, Eric Ngumbi and Ibrahim Ndung’u.
Master Ibrahim Ndungu who joined shooting sports in 2019 takes pride in being the first black African to be bestowed with the Compact Carry Pistol (CCP) Master rank in Africa.
“Becoming a Master requires dedication, time, a lot of effort in training and of course funds to purchase ammunition for training,” he says.
“ At some point, you are even required to go for training abroad or invite seasoned shooters to train you locally; which comes at a cost.” He adds.
“I’d say it’s expensive when you decide to go hot, but cheaper when you go dry (dry fire),” Ndung’u explains.
Master Ndung’u’s thirst for excellence took him to False Bay Firearm Training Academy in Cape Town South Africa, where he enrolled for a firearm Instructors’ course and was awarded an international firearm instructor certificate upon successful completion.
Master Eric Wachira’s dream of becoming a Master in shooting sports saw the light of day in the 2019 African Championships, in Cape Town South Africa.
Wachira is full of praise for some civilian gun owners and members of disciplined forces like Inspector Samuel Chacha of GSU, Capt. Geoffrey Pesa, Gilbert Arum, Samuel Musyoka, Inspector Daniel Kyalo of prisons and Douglas Atiki, who go an extra mile in conducting training at NGAO-K’s Kirigiti Shooting Range.
NGAO chairman Martin Chengo says safety is their topmost priority and that their range is suitable for physically disabled members of the association.
“Ours is an outdoor shooting range readily accessible to disabled people. Whilst we do not cater for all disabilities, ours is the only shooting range in the country where the disabled can try out almost all shooting disciplines,” Chengo explains.
“While promoting shooting as a sport that can bring glory to the country, we are also committed to minimizing misuse of firearms among civilian licensed owners through active training and engagement,” says Chengo.