The practice venue of Vietnam's national shooting team has been unusually quiet these days.
An inexplicable bullet scarcity means that it is all about aiming now for Hoang Xuan Vinh and Tran Quoc Cuong, two shooters who have been qualified for the 2016 Olympics.
Many are worried that they will not be able to perform at their best in Brazil's capital of Rio de Janeiro this summer if they keep practicing without actually firing a bullet.
A coach of the team who asked not to be named said that it has been a long time since he last heard a gunshot.
“We are not short of bullets. We don't have bullets at all. My shooters are only practicing aiming,” he said.
The Vietnam Sports Company is the only firm in the country authorized to import sport guns and bullets, which are considered restricted commodities. But it has stopped importing bullets recently due to “multiple reasons," a company’s source said without elaborating.
Pham Cao Son, another coach, said that top shooters in Vietnam need at least a few hundred bullets a day for training, but they are usually given less that that.
“Many foreign shooters fire more than 1,000 shots or even more every day,” he said.
“We felt pity for Vinh and Cuong when they trained abroad. Shooters from China, Japan and other countries each had a large box of bullets and could use as many as they wanted while we had a very limited supply,” Son said.
At a recent event held by the International Shooting Sport Federation in Brazil, Vinh and Cuong did not reach the final round in all the categories they competed in. Vinh had always finished with a medal in the previous years.
Cuong, 42, has also bagged several individual and team gold medals at regional shooting events, including the Southeast Asian Games.
Meanwhile, Vinh, 42, has always won at least a medal at every Southeast Asian Games event from 2001-2011. In 2013, he won a gold in 10m pistol at the ISSF World Cup.