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Bulls eye: Women on the range

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 Bulls eye: Women on the range (Photo: The Pink Target)

It is early morning at the Kirigiti Shooting Range where amateurs and professionals assembled for an exciting fun shooting day. Here, every bullet counts.

Among them is Hon. Harriette Chiggai, the President's Advisor on Women Rights, Major General Fatuma Ahmed, the first woman to hold that rank in the Kenya Defense Forces and Amuon Akoth Belinda, the first woman sharp shooter in Kenya.

On this day, the shooting range is the venue of an all-ladies charity pistol shooting competition hosted by the Pink Target Ladies Shooting Guild. The theme? 'Bulls-eye on Breast Cancer'. It sought to raise funds to cater for the less privileged who have been diagnosed with breast cancer.

Some of the women gathered have represented the country in many competitions.

Safety officers stand ready.

We spoke to some pf the participants.

Name: Paula Munyi

Profession: Diplomatic/VIP protection agent and sportswoman

How did you and your fellow ladies come together to create this club?

As the lady and youth representative of the National Gun Owners Association (NGAO) Kenya and NGAO Kenya Defensive Pistol Federation, I endeavoured to establish a dedicated CSR platform. Hence, the birth of the all-ladies Pink Target Club, which tailored the charity pistol shooting event to raise funds to support breast cancer warriors within Kiambu County.

You have won a number of continental and international rifle accolades. What has your journey been like?

I got into the shooting game in 2008, specializing in air weapons at the Kenya Regiments Rifles Club. I managed fourth position at the Bisley United Kingdom Postal Match in Air Rifle and also bronze medal women's team at the 13th All African Championships in Cairo, Egypt. Since I delved into the handgun discipline, I have participated successfully in my category in local competitions under IPSC (International Practical Shooting Confederation) and IDPA (International Defensive Pistol Association) as member of NGAO Kenya and internationally through the International Police Association and International VIP Bodyguard events in USA, UK, Germany and United Arab Emirates.

What is your main drive in rifle sporting?

Mine is primarily a sportive driven purpose. The sport enables me the privilege to network, travel, harness adrenal rush to propel better results in competitive scenarios, a stress release mechanism, a platform to learn, teach and give back. It is a thread in the tapestry of stuff that create overall wellness, meaning and balance in my life. Shooting sports inspire, motivate and ignite focus and discipline within me. From it I cultivate essential values such as respect, sportsmanship, teamwork perseverance, patience and mental fortitude.

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 From left: Hon. Harriette Chigga, the President's Advisor on Women Rights, Belinda Amuom and Cate Kirwa (Photo: The Pink Target)

What opportunities can be found in the sport for women?

The potential of shooting sports is limitless. It provides a unique platform for networking, enhancing discipline, resilience and showcasing your skills. It offers a level of camaraderie and support that fosters lifelong friendships.

I encourage women to join the ranks of trailblazing women who are rewriting the narrative in sportive shooting, breaking down barriers, shattering stereotypes, carving out their own path and redefining gender roles.

What kind of investment does one need to put into the sport?

It involves significant costs - including equipment, range fees, training, and competition expenses. To fund your involvement, consider personal budgeting, seeking sponsorships or grants, crowdfunding, taking on part-time work, and looking for discounts and deals. Careful financial planning and prioritization will help make pistol shooting more affordable and sustainable for you.

Name: Cate Kirwa

Profession: Event logistics PR and marketing executive

As a beginner in rifle sporting, what has been your experience so far?

I have practiced for a month so far and I am now eligible for a fun experiential shoot. Being a beginner I do this both for fun and as a sport. Shooting is a skill that requires constant practice and improvement.

eyond fun, what other prospects does the club provide?

The Pink Target identifies women from different groups and organises tailored shooting opportunities; To include International Women's Day, Day of the Girl Child, Mother's Day and Breast Cancer Awareness Month, among others. It inspires me to participate since the competitions raise awareness and funds for identified charity kitties.

One would say firearms is a sport for the elite...

I think rifle sporting is a game that is wide open to people from all walks of life. It is a sport for people in the (disciplined services) as well as individuals out for fun, acquiring skills and networking. I find this to be an opportunity to demystify shooting as a sport.

Does one need to own a firearm to join?

Not really, neither do you need to be a licensed firearm holder to join the sport. In the majority of shooting ranges, clubs can lend you a rifle, making it more accessible for beginners who don't have to purchase their own firearms.

Name: Amuon Akoth Belinda

Profession: Police officer/expert shooter/journalist

You share have high level of expertise, kindly share some of highlights of your journey.

I should probably begin by saying that I was part of the Pink Target all-ladies charity shoot's planning committee. I was the range master of the day too. It's my eighth year in the shooting sport. I've attended a Level 3 IPSC match in Limpopo and South Africa. I've also attended IDPA regionals both in Colorado, USA and Italy.

You are also the first woman sharp shooter in Kenya, right?

Yes. Thanks for the compliments. That is true and I am happy to be the first lady sharp shooter and expert in Kenya. I mainly shoot for sport.

This must come with a series of investments, if not costs, right?

Yes, it's a very expensive sport I won't lie; ranging from acquiring a personal gun, buying ammo and traveling costs. However, I'm forever grateful to our shooting colleagues who always come through for us.

There is a perception that this sport and generally firearms being a man's affair. What inspired you?

I should say my inspiration came from the low number of women in the fraternity and the perception of the sport being a men's affair. I wanted to prove that women could also excel in it. What also inspires me is my undying love for the sport and the fact that I do it well. This drives me to do it all the time. It helps me assist people with different issues; through raising funds through competitions and sponsorship, the very first course being the Breast Cancer Awareness Month shoot. With my colleagues, we hope to hold many of these charity shoots to support many different courses.

What would be your word to someone who wonders if you derive happiness in this?

My sports shooting skill is the best thing in my life and I don't regret it. I've had fun, I've built my confidence and I've also grown my networks. I would encourage any woman who feels like they want to try it out to come on board as soon as possible to get guidance on how to go about it. Our ranges have certified safety and range officers who are ready to assist any day. Come let's have fun, but enjoy responsibly.

 Elizabeth Cherono (Photo: E. Cherono)

Name: Elizabeth Cherono

Title: African Champions PCC (Pistol Caliber Carbine) committee and member of Pink Target

Profession: Public Relations Officer at the National Museums of Kenya

As Africa champion in pistol shooting, this must have come with good experience.

I have been shooting for the last eight years. In this, I have participated in several local and international events and you are right highlighting that I am currently the IDPA Africa Championship Pistol Caliber Carbine (PCC)) champion. I have held the title for two years consecutively; 2022and 2023. I have equally participated in local ladies only events and emerged top lady in PCC.

Why did you opt for this sport?

I find it to be such a recreational activity that also keeps me relaxed and calm. It also allows me to meet new people from different backgrounds and I am also able to share my abilities by nurturing new shooters.

What is the shooting experience like?

Sport shooting experience is out of this world and an adrenaline drive like no other. It gives me a sense if ownership that I can take control of my destiny. I do compete against both women and men and I think women are better shooters naturally, and they should explore the sport and expose their abilities.

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