Q&A: Daniel Wanma, Air Niugini cap­tain and Com­mon­wealth Games shooter

When he’s not in the cock­pit of a Boe­ing 767, this Air Niugini cap­tain likes to fire guns. At the 2018 Com­mon­wealth Games in Australia, he com­peted in trap shoot­ing with a dou­ble-bar­rel shot­gun that he has nick­named Pa­puan Black.

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Q: How did you go at the Com­mon­wealth Games on the Gold Coast?

A: Rea­son­ably well, given I only started this dis­ci­pline about two years ago. (Wanma was 16th of 40 in his qual­i­fi­ca­tion round.)

Q: Was it your first big event?

A: I have pre­vi­ously at­tended two World Cup tour­na­ments, in Cyprus and San Marino, and won a bronze medal in dou­ble trap at the 2015 Ocea­nia Cham­pi­onship in Sydney.

Q: How did you get into trap shoot­ing?

A: At the Pa­cific Games hosted by PNG in 2015, the Na­tional Shoot­ing As­so­ci­a­tion pres­i­dent, Mel Don­ald, sought in­ter­ested shoot­ers to try clay tar­get. I did rea­son­ably well in se­lec­tion and then did OK at the Games, fin­ish­ing in the top 10.

Q: Is there much of a fol­low­ing for it in PNG?

A: Not presently. How­ever, in the years around PNG’s in­de­pen­dence (1975) the sport was pop­u­lar and there were sev­eral clubs around the coun­try. Dur­ing Com­mon­wealth Games train­ing at the Gold Coast Clay Tar­get Club, I met PNG’s 1974 World Cup rep­re­sen­ta­tive in the sport, Lyn­don An­der­son. He gave me one of his 1974 Lae Gun Club badges, which I wore dur­ing the Com­mon­wealth Games for good luck.

Q: Can you briefly de­scribe what trap shoot­ing in­volves, and tell us about the key skills needed?

A: It in­volves shoot­ing a clay disc, the size of an adult fist, thrown out from a trap-house bunker at 100kmh. The re­lease of the clay is trig­gered by the shooter call­ing ‘pull’. Each shoot­ing lane has com­put­er­con­trolled trap ma­chines, which de­cide the di­rec­tion, el­e­va­tion and an­gle the tar­get will be launched. At the end of each round, the com­puter would have pre­sented ex­actly the same pat­tern of an­gles, height and di­rec­tion to each shooter, but in jum­bled se­quence. Es­sen­tially, the shooter has no idea which way the clay will exit the trap house un­til it be­comes vis­i­ble in flight. It’s a men­tal sport, re­quir­ing a lot of mind con­trol.

Q: Is it hard to jug­gle your time be­tween trap shoot­ing and Air Niugini?

A: At times it is, but our ros­ter­ing team has been top notch, ac­com­mo­dat­ing most of my com­pe­ti­tion sched­ule. There is also a lot of time spent pre-plan­ning, in­clud­ing for­eign firearm li­cens­ing for­mal­i­ties, to en­sure my Per­azzi MX200 dou­ble-bar­rel shot­gun – nick­named Pa­puan

Black af­ter the ven­omous snake – ac­com­pa­nies me around the world.

Q: What is your am­bi­tion in the sport?

A: I want to qual­ify for the 2020 Olympic Games.

Q: When did you join Air Niugini and what’s your work his­tory there?

A: I joined more than 23 years ago. I started as a pi­lot and worked up the ranks to gen­eral man­ager of flight op­er­a­tions, fol­lowed by chief op­er­a­tions of­fi­cer (COO). As COO, un­der board in­struc­tions, I led an ex­ec­u­tive project team to cre­ate Link PNG, con­sist­ing of a Dash 8 fleet ser­vic­ing the smaller air­ports and re­source sec­tor in PNG. I was ap­pointed the in­au­gu­ral chief ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cer of Link PNG in 2015

Q: What’s your cur­rent role with the air­line?

A: I have taken a sab­bat­i­cal from man­age­ment and re­turned to fly­ing our large Bird of Par­adise Boe­ing 767 on the in­ter­na­tional net­work, to free up time to­wards study­ing for an MBA.

PNG at the Com­mon­wealth Games, in pic­tures, see page 76.

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