Popular with colonial officials, club bred many champions
The Hong Kong Rifle Association, under threat with the closure of the Kau Wah Keng Shooting Range, has bred many famous shooters and was once a leisure spot popular with colonial officials.
The association, which has more than 600 members, dates back to the end of the second world war, but it was officially founded in 1964 as a shooting club for members of the British forces. Most members were expatriate soldiers and their families and civil servants, but a growing number of Chinese members have joined since the 1970s.
Yuen Chow-pang, 65, a retired factory worker and association member since 1991, said the range once attracted shooting fans from all walks of life.
'We used to have all kinds of people in the team, businessmen, rich guys and people like me who used to be poor. We were very harmonious,' he said.
Governors, senior officials, lawmakers and other prominent people such as gambling tycoon Stanley Ho Hung-sun and Cantonese opera star Sun Ma Sze Tsang were members.
'The environment and facilities of other shooting grounds in Hong Kong are not as good as here. Some clubs don't have fixed facilities and sometimes need to go overseas for training,' Yuen said.
Members with significant achievements include Wong Fai, champion in standard pistol at the 2005 East Asian Games in Macau; Gilbert U, bronze medallist in free pistol at the 1990 Asian Games in Seoul and bronze medallist in air pistol at the 1986 Commonwealth Games in Edinburgh; and Ho Kar-fai, bronze in free pistol at the 1986 Commonwealth Games.
Yuen feared the shooting standards would fall with the range's closure. 'Rifle sport is thriving on the mainland but it's been dying out in Hong Kong... the standard has dropped,' he said.