Sport Shooting in Nicaragua

By Pat Werner

One of the advantages of recently having surgery is that I feel much more energetic. So I decided to take up precision pistol shooting again. I last shot in the Nicaraguan regional league in 2013, when we won first place. I sent back for the last shoot of the year and came in second place for my class. Of late I have hoped to start up a team of American shooters, or at least partial American shooters. We started two months ago, and thanks to the interest and participation of Bob Moore, Mike Johnson, and lawyer Agustin Huete, we have started shooting as a team. Some expats may be reluctant to participate based on their own idea of the shooting sports, based in no small part of movies and the media. Nothing could be further from the truth, and those ideas should be thrown out as fanciful Gringo baggage. And I may be the only American, now of dual citizenship, who as participated for decades in organized shooting tournaments, high power rifle as well as rimfire and centerfire pistol. In 2010 my team won the Army National Pistol Tournament, and again won in the 2012 National Police Championship and many regional pistol tournaments. And if we keep shooting we will win again.

Firearms ownership is governed by Law 510, that has nothing to do with American law or organizations, and nothing to do with American culture wars whatsoever. It is also a careful sport, with everyone really conscious of gun safety and being careful where the muzzle of the handgun is pointed. Always. Organized bullseye shooting, also called precision shooting, is done at 25 meters and is a modified form of Olympic free pistol shooting. There are no time constraints and all shooting is done offhand, with no support. It is similar to playing golf, and many have commented on it characteristics of Zen Buddhism. It is a quite simple sport that is quite difficult to do. It is also a place where one can meet the cream of the Nicaraguan Army officer core, including a couple of Generals, both of whom are very fine shots, the best shots of the National Police, and the finest civilian pistol shots. For some reason the Marine Guard at the American Embassy choose not to participate. It was not always that way. When the Contra War ended in 1990 there were a bunch of cowboys here, both Marine guards and State Department guys, who could shoot, and did so repeatedly and successfully and with elán. Not anymore. The last time I saw a United States Army Mil Group member shoot at the Nicaraguan Army National Matches, it was an embarrassment.

Shooting is one of those sports that one can do for decades. It is eye hand coordination, with a pinch of Zen thrown in. That is one of the reasons it is almost always easier to teach a woman how to shoot than a man; they do not have testosterone issues and so many crazy ideas based on movies that are baloney. I started competitive shooting in 1963 with the mentoring of the late, great, Sergeant Bob Nash of the Bay City Police Department. I was fascinated at how he could shoot the center out of a target at 25 yards and 50 yards using a 38 special revolver. I am now shooting a 38 special revolver, much like the Smith and Wesson K 38 that Bob shot, and it shoots just as good for me, as it did today, as it did for Bob Nash 54 years ago. I send along a picture of my target.

In a sense it is the difference between talking about doing something, discussing it, philosophizing about it, and doing the thing yourself. It is not watching a football game in a bar or at home, it is standing there shoulder to shoulder with the best shots in Nicaragua, and fighting with yourself to shoot the center out of your target, just sitting there 25 meters away.

For the shooting fraternity, a shooting tournament is also a place to renew friendships, exchange firearms, and tell tales of the last shooting match. Many of us have been shooting together for decades, like Salvador Luna, Ebelio Gutierrez, and the Generals, and now we are joined by their sons and daughters, whom I have watched first in diapers, and now with their own families and children, who are starting to shoot, and who are the third generation who participate in the sport. The shooting sports are probably more developed in Nicaragua than in other Central American countries, in no small part due to the peace, tranquility, and even handed administration of the firearms laws. Today Ebelio Gutierrez and his son Ebelio shot together on a team and won the team championship. Salvador Luna´s son Salvador just won the IPSC state championship in Georgia, and recently placed second in the world IPSC championship held last September in France.

Me, I am entering my 70th year, and have great hopes of improving my scores in next year´s league. I really have my Smith and Wesson shooting pretty slick, as accurate as a rifle. In the end, I would rather do something myself than watch others do something I like to do. I guess that is why I shoot. One gun scribe, the late, distinguished Colonel Charles Askins, wrote in his old age, that he hoped to fire 50 rounds a day and ride a horse daily until he was 90, which he did. Pretty good advice.

Shooting Range


  1. Brooks

    December 22, 2017 a 2:34 pm

    Great and informative article about a almost completely unrecognized sport.

    Where does one go to participate in this sport in Nicaragua? Does One have to be a dual citizen to participate? I have a half dozen questions at least. Is there some way to contact the writer?

    Molte grazie!

  2. pat werner

    December 22, 2017 a 4:46 pm

    All persons who have residency in Nicaragua can purchase firearms, following law 510, and participate in the shooting sports. The shooting range is at km 20 on the Masaya highway, called Poligono Magnum, and is located at the beginning of the piedra quemada, or lava field.