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MANILA, Philippines - The professional shooting sport is putting the Philippines on the map and one tiny Filipino is representing the country in a big way.
At the age of 6, Miko Andres became the world's youngest practical shooter in the standard division, a competitive category limited to shooters with certain types of pistols.
Now 9, Andres is still one of the smallest shooters competing on adult courses. He sometimes stands on a sandbag just to see his target.
Miko was trained to use a heavy .45-caliber pistol by his dad, a member of the military's special forces. "I wanted to shoot a .45-caliber gun to be like my dad," said Andres in Filipino.
Miko’s dad Mike was supposed to be the one competing in this year's Bongbong Marcos Cup, one of the biggest shooting competitions in the country. But Miko got so excited when he saw his dad getting ready to shoot, he asked to take his place.
Miko wore his dad’s glasses and shooting holster for the competition.
Mike Andres said he hopes to raise enough money to showcase his son's talent in American shooting events.
"Shooting is one of the most expensive sports in the world," he said.
Bringing his son to compete in Singapore in 2009 cost about P300,000. He had to rely on wealthy sponsors like the Marcos family.
Cost is a major obstacle to making shooting more popular in the Philippines.
Specialists say guns can range from P20,000 to P300,000 a piece. Each bullet costs about P10. And during competitions, shooters can spend as much as P5,000 just on ammunition. Contests also involve travel, another added expense.
Still Filipinos are making a name for themselves in the sport.
"Combat shooting doesn’t really involve height, or build or strength. It's more of skill and Filipinos are really skilled where shooting is concerned," said Benji Melarmino, a retired Philippine National Police general.
4 of the Top 10 shooters in the 2011 world shoot were Filipino. And the sport seems to have a bright future with shooters like Miko Andres. - Rappler.com (Videography by Charles Salazar and Katherine Visconti)