SPORTS: Competitive Shooting in Barranquilla

Friedrich Bellingrodt looking at his father's Olympic medals.

Different cities across the Americas have different attitudes when it comes to guns. Indeed, mention the word “gun” and people will more often than not relate it with crime. In fact, in many cities, including here in Barranquilla, there’s another culture where guns are viewed in a positive light. Competitive shooting is a very popular sport, practiced around the world.

The first athlete to win Olympic medals in shooting for Colombia, was a shooter by the name of Helmut Bellingrodt, who was born and lives in La Arenosa.  He was just 23 years old when he won silver at the 1972 Olympics in Munich and then at the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles,  he won another silver at age 35.

Barranquilleros who share interest in the sport have access to a private shooting club accredited by the Colombian Shooting Federation. The club is located at the entrance to Puerto Colombia on the Via al Mar, on the left side of the road heading towards Cartagena. This facility offers shooters space to practice with almost every type of gun on 25 and 50 meter ranges. Plus, there’s also a shotgun area, a 10 meter airfield and an open space for practical shooting.

To enter the facility, it’s necessary to be a member of the club, but it’s also possible to enter as the guest of a member. Nowadays, they’re facing a major problem with membership as not a lot of people are aware of their existence and the sport isn’t as popular now as it as in the past.

To bolster its membership and to help promote the discipline across the region, the club is holding its second annual Amateur Shooting Championship on March 6th.

This second edition of the tournament doesn’t have a traditional shooting format. Instead, the event will consist of shots on 17 different mobile, metal targets, and each contender will have 20 shots total to make 17 hits. The fee of only $40,000 pesos includes access, equipment, ammunition and even a small lunch. All you need to do is show up.

The competition organizer, Friedrich Bellingrodt (Helmut’s younger son), said that they decided to try the faster format where the rush and the emotion of shooting have a higher place than the traditional precision formats. This in order to generate a passion for the sport in those who had never tried shooting before, especially kids.

The “Torneo Carabina” will have Gold, Silver and Bronze medals across five categories which will be divided by age, (Junior 10-13 years old and Youth 13 -16 Years old), and by knowledge of shooting (Beginners; those who had never shot before and want to learn; Amateurs, those who have practiced but are not regulars; and Masters, for professionals, club members and the army).

This event marks the first competition where the club will open its doors for contenders who are not members. In fact, people are expected to come from all over Colombia to enter the amateur’s categories. Guillermo Rolong, Magdalena’s shooting federation President announced that 12 cadets will be participating in the master’s category.

All the kids and beginners categories will be paired with certified instructors to ensure the event goes off without a hitch. Bellingrodt was quite emphatic in his assurances that they are very serious about safety and no-one will have access to a gun without first following strict safety protocols. Instead, their focus is teaching new shooters some great techniques for accuracy including how to control your pulse and breathing. Hopefully, participants will walk away afterwards with a new appreciation for the sport.

The registration period will be open until the 5th of March. If you have questions, you can contact the club at: 3007921279. All public can come watch the competition on Sunday; there’s no charge for the fans.

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Fran graduated from Universidad de Palermo in Buenos Aires, Argentina in Journalism and Sports Journalism. Before returning to his native Barranquilla, he traveled extensively throughout Europe and North America. When he’s not busy writing or reporting on a game, he’s probably watching whatever sports news is on TV. He also enjoys dancing, learning new languages and cultures.