- In a sea of about 70 men at a shooting match on Saturday morning in Kirigiti, 16 women stand out.
- They are taking their place in shooting sports and outshining their male counterparts as well.
- Beyond being an attractive sport with discipline lessons, shooting is also beneficial for overall fitness.
In a sea of about 70 men at a shooting match on Saturday morning in Kirigiti, 16 women stand out. Their skill set matches and even surpasses that of their male counterparts, making their appearance the only big difference.
Aggressive stances and quick feet characterize his movement with each passing round. Despite the alarming noise, it seemed like calculated amusement.
The National Association of Gun Owners (Ngao-K) has seen an increase in the membership and participation of women in competitive shootings in recent years.
“Due to our good efforts to popularize the sport, the participation of women has increased enormously. There are currently no less than 25 active female shooters in the country, ”says Martin Chengo, president of the association.
Most of these women are in the armed forces, having received professional training that sparked their interest in sport.
There, they find the classification in six different categories: from beginner to marksman, to sniper and then expert. The highest ranks in this hierarchy are teacher and distinguished teacher. There are currently no distinguished teachers in Africa.
Kenya will host the 2021 International Defensive Pistol Association (IDPA) Africa Championship in September, making it the first time this event has been held in a country other than South Africa in the 15 years since its beginning.
In preparation, your goal is to rank more of your participants at the shooter level and above.
“Some civilian women are even shooting above the sniper categories,” said Sammy Onyango, Ngao-K party director. BDLife.
Wangeci Muchiri, an officer in the National Police Service, is the first sniper in Kenya in the Enhanced Service Pistol (ESP) category, and the second sniper in the country overall.
He has been shooting competitively since 2009 and participates in championships regularly. Muchiri was classified as a sniper in a match in April 2021, rose straight up from a rookie, and skipped the marksman category.
“I have passion, I love this sport. It also aligns with my work life and helps me focus better on my daily activities, ”he says.
For her, seeing other women participate in sport has kept her motivated, as the number of women in the field continues to grow.
“The more women get involved in the sport, the more motivation we will have to keep shooting,” she says.
Belinda Akoth, a General Service Unit (GSU) officer who is also classified as a sniper, says this is more than just a sport.
“You meet new people, you expand your networks, and at the end of the day, it’s a score,” he says.
In love with guns
Ms. Akoth has been shooting competitively since 2016 and says she loves guns and everything to do with them.
“I fell in love with guns and shooting during training, and found that I could make good shots,” he says.
Guns have taught him to be careful. “You have to treat each weapon as if it were loaded. You also have to be patient with the weapon and with yourself,” he added.
Since her first IDPA session in 2016, Ms. Akoth has participated in various championships both locally and internationally, including the World Pistol Competition held in China in November 2018.
He attended the competition together with Irene Wanjiku, an officer from the GSU Training School. Kenya was ranked seventh out of 72 countries participating in the competition, a feast that Ms. Akoth owes to African marksmanship over western speed.
“African countries don’t have as many shooters as Western countries,” he explained, a factor that added to the intimidation during the competition.
The competitions are based on one’s ability to quickly draw and change the magazine of his weapon. They noted that although they were slower than their white counterparts, they were always on target, resulting in their high ranking.
Ms. Wanjiku, who was her counterpart in the event, has been shooting competitively since 2013 and has been attending Ngao-K matches since 2014. Currently a marksman in April 2021, she moved up from the rookie category .
“Shooting skills instill discipline. Good shooters don’t use their firearms anyway, ”he says. He also explained that although the brands are grouped by gender, the rest of the sport is not as gender specific as others.
“In these competitions, we are leveled the same; what you get is what you will be classified with. It is not gender specific; you have to compete against men even if you are a woman, “she says.
Alice Njuguna, a rookie marksman and officer in the Kenyan Navy, began shooting competitively about six months ago after serving a year of service.
She took first place in a KDF shooting competition, despite being on a team full of men. This motivated her to join the sport.
“In our career, it is necessary to have a good aim; shooting competitively has helped me improve that, ”he says.
Ms. Njuguna also encouraged civilian women, as well as those in the armed forces, to participate in shooting as a sport and not be afraid to join, as they too can receive appropriate training.
Highly respected in shooting circles, veteran marksman and first president of the Kenya Women’s Shooting Team, Nune Bonaya of the KDF, commented on the rise of women in the sport since its inception.
Currently an expert in large-caliber shooting rifles, Ms. Bonaya has been shooting competitively for the past 35 years.
“Women’s participation has definitely improved, especially in the last three years,” she says, adding that this is a sport like any other, and more women should be encouraged to join.
“I love that it’s a sport and that it’s also part of training for me,” he says.
Beyond being an attractive sport with discipline lessons, shooting is also beneficial for overall fitness. The basic principles (posture, grip, extraction, breath control, sight alignment and trigger manipulation) are based on the physical and mental ability to ensure brevity during a match.
“For example, with breathing control, you can decide to take an injection with an empty lung. It can take about eight injections with an empty lung instead of a full one, where it will only take about four, ”she says.
Like any type of physical training, Ms. Akoth reiterated that discipline must come from within.
“When you come to train, it must come from your heart, not from someone who pushes you to train, you have to want to improve yourself and your skills.”
He then proceeded to teach me how to aim at the target. Shooting sounds easy on television, but mastering the balance between physical and mental activity takes practice and, at the time, a good ear.
The first shot missed the target badly, but after adjusting my grip and controlling my breathing, my shot came to rest next to hers on the cardboard marker.
While a weapon can be dangerous in the wrong hands, in the wrong place, and at the wrong time, the set of parameters in Kirigiti’s range allowed me to explore firsthand how shooting can be a satisfying hobby.
Everything is in the rush to chase the target.