Vietnam to ease ammunition shortage for shooters by year-end

The shortage is not about money; it is about a lack of qualified suppliers

Vietnamese shooter Tran Quoc Cuong (R) is pictured during a training session at the Nhon training center in Hanoi.

Vietnamese sport shooters will likely be able to resupply themselves with bullets by the end of this year, as relevant agencies speed up the process to alleviate the ammunition shortage that has plagued the country’s shooting teams over the last few years.

Though bullets are an indispensible part of sport shooting, Vietnam’s national shooting squads have faced a dearth in recent years, forcing shooters to seek various practice alternatives.

During training, Vietnamese shooters have been forced to “watch the bullets,” or practice while using as few rounds of ammunition as possible.

The country’s greatest shooter Hoang Xuan Vinh also suffered from shortage during practice sessions, except for during his last training leading up to Rio 2016.

After the 42-year-old military colonel defied sub-standard training conditions to win a gold and silver medal in Brazil earlier this month, Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc ordered that the bullet shortage be solved as soon as possible.

However, the General Department of Physical Training and Sports said on Wednesday that it will not be able to comply with the premier’s request until the end of this year.

Though the general department has opened tenders to bullet and pellet suppliers, it is still in the process of evaluating bidders, it said.

Starting in December 2013, under a joint decree issued by the Ministry of Public Affairs and its sports counterpart, companies must pass the tender process to be able to supply sporting weapons in Vietnam.

Last year, the General Department of Physical Training and Sports opened tenders to seek bullet suppliers twice, but failed to select any qualified firms, leading to a severe shortage of ammunition for local shooters.

In June this year, a fresh tender was opened and the general department believes it will be successful this time around.

“Still, bullet supplies will not arrive until later this year,” it admitted.

This means shooters will continue having to practice without bullets over the next three months.

The bullet shortage will also affect the quality of some competitions set to be held in the country from now until the end of 2016.

The National Junior Shooting Championship, slated for August 15 to 25 at the Nhon training center in Hanoi, is one such competition affected by the shortage. 

This year only 12 teams, with a total of 199 athletes, will be competing. The number of participants in this championship has declined steadily in the last two years.

According to the championship's regulations, participants supply their own guns and bullets, meaning that the ammunition shortage has left few teams with enough bullets to spare for a junior competition.

Paper targets at regional competition

Vietnam is slated to host the 2016 Southeast Asia Shooting Championship (SEASA) from November 4 to 13, also at Nhon, the first international competition to take place at the venue in eight years.

At the training center, besides the ammunition dearth, there is also a lack of digital targets. Shooters are still aiming at paper targets to train themselves for competitions across the world, though electronic targets are typically used in competition.

Shooters at the 2016 SEASA event may be shocked when they learn that they will compete with paper targets, something many countries stopped using years ago.

“We know that we do not have electronic targets but it is our turn to host the event,” Nguyen Thi Nhung, head of shooting with the General Department of Physical Training and Sports, admitted.

Nhung explained that Vietnam “could not just attend every event held by other countries without hosting one itself.”

The official said the organizer has had to “persuade other countries to accept competing with target papers,” adding that “the scoring task will be completed digitally, with fairness ensured.”

Fortunately, the ammunition shortage will not affect the event's organization because “participants will bring their own guns and bullets to Nhon.”

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