It is easier, yet harder, to win a medal in competition shooting these days, shooter Jasmine Ser mused, in a recent interview.
This comes after changes in the International Shooting Sport Federation (ISSF) rules two years ago, which will be applied at the South-east Asia (SEA) Games here for the first time.
Under the old format, qualification scores are carried over to the final, with the podium finishers decided on cumulative score.
With the new rules, qualification scores are discarded in the final, which will be held in a step-ladder format instead.
For example, the fifth-placed shooter will challenge the fourth-placed athlete. The winner then vies with the shooter in third place.
Ser, 24, said: "At the start, it was difficult for me to accept as it was a complete change from the previous set of rules, but I slowly got the hang of it - that it is normal to be eliminated in the finals.
"But if I ever got the chance to go for the medals, I would feel lighter, because I know that I am already in the top three and have secured a medal."
Shooting enjoyed a heightened profile in recent years, thanks to Singapore's haul of five gold, four silver and five bronze medals at the 2010 Commonwealth Games.
HARDER AT SEA
Success was harder to come by in the SEA Games though, as the shooters won just one gold at both the 2011 and 2013 SEA Games, in Indonesia and Myanmar respectively.
But Ser said there is no pressure on the shooters to better their previous hauls. Neither will the weight of expectations that comes with a home Games get into their psyche.
The National University of Singapore graduate said: "The nature of shooting is so intense that your focus has to be so much on controlling your muscles, making sure you are on target, making the shot, and repeating it if it is a good one.
"We don't train every day thinking about the past, or about the medals. We just don't have the time, and it doesn't help to motivate us to do better too."
Mental training is one aspect that Ser has been spending more time on in the lead-up to the Games.
Competing in the women's 10m, 50m three-positions and 50m prone air-rifle events at Safra Yishun and the National Shooting Centre at Old Choa Chu Kang Road, she is bracing herself for the crowds that are expected to cheer on Team Singapore athletes.
The Sports Excellence Scholar said: "I am not sure if it changes my mentality, but I make a conscious effort to prepare myself mentally to see such a scene (large crowds of Singapore supporters) so that I will treat it positively if I ever experience it during competition.
"In overseas competitions, we don't have the local crowds (cheering for us), so now I just fit that to my usual mental competition scene and imagine what will happen.
"That's the best we can do in preparing ourselves, to first know what is going to happen."
Ser will be going into the Games after finishing seventh in the finals of the 50m rifle, three positions, at the ISSF World Cup in Munich last Sunday.
Like her teammates, she will be gunning for glory in front of family, friends and fans, but she hopes that the Games can also serve as a springboard to something bigger.
She said: "The SEA Games is a very nice competition to improve myself and to reach consistency, but I am taking it like any other competition. My main goal will be to qualify for and compete in the Olympics (next year)."
When: Today to June 13
Where: National Shooting Centre and Safra Yishun (free admission)
On offer: 26 gold medals
History: 53 golds, 57 silvers, 91 bronzes
Milestones: Fred de Souza won Singapore's first shooting gold at the 1961 SEAP Games in Burma. Their best haul since was in the 2007 Games in Thailand, where they amassed eight golds, six silvers and six bronzes.
The team: Gai Bin, Lim Swee Hon, Poh Lip Meng, Nicole Tan, Teh Xiu Hong, Teo Shun Xie, Royce Chan, Wesley Leong, Wong Ting Wei, Ong Jun Hong, Abel Lim, Lim Zhong Xian, Cheng Jian Huan, Li Yafei, Jasmine Ser, Martina Veloso, Tessa Neo, David Chan, Eugene Chiew, Low Jiang Hao, Choo Choon Seng, Lin Hejun, Zain Amat, Peter Teh, Sivakumar Velayudhan, Anuar Abdullah, Cynthia Lee, Mabel Goh, Norizan Mustafa
Did you know? Singapore Shooting Association president Michael Vaz is also an accomplished skeet shooter, with two SEA Games bronze medals (1995 and 2001) to his name.
The New Paper's medal prediction: With the veterans' pedigree and the exuberance of the youngsters, the national shooting team definitely has what it takes to meet and even surpass their target of six gold medals.
This article was first published on June 06, 2015.
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