A Polish firearms training company said it had seen a growing interest in learning to shoot in Ukraine since the start of the war, with many people discussing shooting lessons for the first time in their lives.
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has sparked a wave of anxiety in Central Europe and some people in NATO member Poland, Ukraine’s western neighbor, have inquired about joining the military and learning to use weapons.
“Since the beginning of the war in Ukraine, interest has increased four or fivefold,” said Piotr Mioduchowski, co-owner of PM Shooter. Before the war, they had 30-35 calls a day to book space, now they get over 200, he said.
He added that most of those who came to the shooting range in the past month had not handled firearms before. Because some people feared that the war might spread outside Ukraine, they sought the skills to defend themselves, he said.
One of PM Shooter’s regular visitors, Sergiusz Regula (25), said that although he had been training for several months, he started deciding after the war to learn how to shoot with a Kalashnikov.
“We have seen in Ukraine, in Kiev, that these Kalashnikovs have been distributed to the civilian population … If, as in Kiev, guns were handed out, I would stand in line to defend my city, my home and my family,” he said. he said.
The Territorial Defense Forces (WOT), Poland’s voluntary militia based on America’s National Guard, has seen a sevenfold increase in interest since the war began.
“The spectacular successes of territorial defense there (in Ukraine) have changed the perception of our territorial defense forces,” WOT said in a statement.
Some Ukrainians living in Poland, which had the region’s largest Ukrainian community of about 1 million people before the war, started learning at shooting ranges in Poland before joining the army in Ukraine.
“I can not stand on the sidelines. I want to go, I want to defend,” Andrii Drahan, a 27-year-old taxi driver, said after his second lesson. He plans to return to Ukraine on Monday to fight.
“We will not live under Russia, that is for sure.”
Russia sent troops to Ukraine on February 24 on a “special operation” designed to destroy its neighbor’s military capabilities, which it considers dangerous nationalists.
(This story was not edited by techlives staff and is automatically generated from a syndicated stream.)