When she first picked up an air pistol five years ago, Chua Shin Yoong never liked the feeling of the weapon in her hands.
But she stuck with the sport because her teachers at Yuhua Secondary School convinced her that she was good at it.
Said the 18-year-old: “In Secondary 1, all the students at Yuhua were supposed to go for shooting trials. That’s
when they select potential athletes for the school in shooting.
“I never really liked it, because I wanted to try the other sports, but all the teachers said I was good enough to join the school team, so they convinced me to give it a try and keep training.”
Shin Yoong listened to her teachers and diligently honed her skills in the sport, but her heart simply wasn’t in it.
She even went on hiatus from the sport for about 11 months after Secondary 4.
She said: “After the B Division championships in 2012, I didn’t pick up a pistol for 11 months, and when I was about to enter junior college, I thought about trying out for fencing.”
It was only when she joined Catholic Junior College (CJC) that Shin Yoong saw a sign that she was destined to continue the sport — her old pistol.
In 2010, Yuhua had to stop its shooting programme due to a lack of funds.
At the time, Shin Yoong had to give up all of the shooting equipment, including her pistol.
In an amazing coincidence, she was assigned to the very same pistol at her new college.
She said: “I was really surprised to find my old pistol there, I think it was donated to CJC after the programme at my old school closed.
“I knew it was mine because the serial number was exactly the same. I felt that was a sign that I should continue with the sport.
“It also made me realise that during my time away, I missed the shooting range and the feel of a pistol in my hand.”
And it was a sign of great things to come for Shin Yoong and her trusted pistol.
In her first foray into the A Division last year, she managed to set a new record in the 10m pistol event.
She scored 380, beating the old record set by Marina Tai of Anderson Junior College in 2012 by five points.
That same year, she was also selected to join the National Youth Squad.
While her results in this year’s school games have been slightly disappointing — she finished fifth in the individual 10m pistol event with a score of 364 — she has big hopes for the year.
She said: “I want to train hard and be good enough to make next year’s SEA Games.
“I’m still training now, but when my A Levels get closer, I’ll focus on that. But I’ve planned to set aside eight
months after my exams for my training. Hopefully, I can make it.”
Shin Yoong’s teachers in charge of shooting at CJC have lauded her determination, but are worried that she is
putting too much pressure on herself.
Clara Khoo, 27, one of the teachers, said: “Her teachers all speak well of how she is able to maintain her studies and also dedicate so much time in her training.
“But I’ve noticed she can get stressed from all her commitments.
“She has very high expectations of herself in competitions, and that’s caused her to stress and underperform.”
Expectations aside, Shin Yoong feels that she’s grown to love the sport, ever since picking up that pistol in Secondary 1.
She said: “I think it’s been worth all my effort and time.
“I know I wanted to try other sports for a change, but I think after all my achievements and finding the same pistol I had when I just started, I have no regrets.”