Cutting to the chase, and being honest, I am nervous and worried. I am close to breaking out in a cold sweat, but I have little time to think about this, I am about to, as they say in the cop dramas, “take the shot”. My legs feel rooted to the floor, but despite that my body is relaxed. I raise the gun smoothly and take aim, sizing up the target through the sight. Then I pause. I only hear the beating of my heart. If before it raced out of excitement and nervous anticipation, now it is a steady slow, sharp knock. I slowly exhale and pull the trigger. I do not even realise what’s happening when there’s a loud bang. Then a whirl of sensations: shock, surprise, euphoria, a feeling of victory, I want to repeat it again and again – to feel that sensation of being pushed back from the recoil of the gun and to smell the gunpowder.
An Introduction To Weaponry
I had loved shooting in my school years but had only shot air-rifles, because students were not allowed to use heavier firearms. Now is my chance, and I’m visiting the IBIS Sport Shooting Club on Vadyma Hetmana in central Kyiv. From the moment I arrive, I feel like a club member as I am warmly greeted by deputy director Bohdan Timofeev. Timofeev introduces me to my instructor Dmytro Shytikov, saying he is the “best instructor”, and leaves us to begin training.
Every beginner, before they take up a gun, should be instructed in the safety do’s and don’ts – the rules for handling weapons, which Shytikov reels off one-by-one. “Guns are not toys. There are many people who do not know how to handle weapons. They look into the muzzle, point it at others... The instructor must always be on guard, because we are responsible for the safety of all visitors. The shooter also must always know what is in front of the target and behind it.”
There is also such a thing as “the perfect 10”, Shytikov says. “Everyone is trying to shoot the ten. The main task of a good shooter is to hit wherever he wants on the target. This may not be the 10 only. In general, the ability of a shooter is determined by a cluster of shots in that one place at which they are aiming. If they are scattered throughout the target – this is not a result he can show off.” And the most important piece of advice for the instructor? “All negative emotions are to be left at the door of the shooting range.”
I am given protective earmuffs and safety glasses to shield my eyes from propellant gases and debris. Then Shytikov tells me about the positioning of hands, feet and how to hold the gun – a 9mm CZ 75 SP- 01 Shadow – it’s Czech made and commonly used in law enforcement.
Let’s start with the correct position of the feet and body. You stand facing the target; feet shoulder width apart and parallel to each other. Keeping your back straight, you need to lean forward a little with shoulders dropped and relaxed. Taking the pistol in both hands, the firing hand should be slightly forward and support hand back slightly to absorb recoil. The gun should feel snug in the firing hand and together with the support hand should create a shape like a circle. In this position you will have less chance of getting injured from the impact of the gun’s recoil.
The Appeal Of Shooting
By his own admission, Timofeev is a gun lover. “Some people like fishing. They want to sit for hours waiting for something – I love guns. I started shooting at 16; it was a hobby that turned into a job. I came here to work six months after the opening of the shooting range. We see a lot of people, who engage in shooting professionally as well as amateurs. There are also foreigners, but before they will be enrolled as a member of the club, they have to go through a lot of checks.”
The staff at the shooting range are all highly qualified, Timofeev says. “Almost all are highly ranked or masters of the sport in the USSR. Two women – Svitlana Palamar and Svitlana Chistiakova were also shooting champions in the USSR.” I’m also interested in what my instructor, Shytikov, has to say and it turns out he has a fascinating back-story. “I had worked for a long time as a bodyguard. I protected the lives of other people with my own. But one day I realised that I was tired of living someone else’s life. Always being with that person, always accompanying them, there is no privacy. I was tired and decided to quit,” he tells me. “And IBIS needed instructors. So here I am.”
IBIS Sport Shooting Club (V Hetmana Street 27, MShuliavska)
Hours: Monday at 10.00 –17.00, Tuesday – Saturday at 10.00 –21.00, Sunday at 10.00 –19.00
IBIS features two shooting galleries, a gun store plus a range of weapons for hire. The 50-metre gallery has five lines of shooting, intended for private lessons and the adjustment of weapons; the 25-metre gallery is for individual and group sessions. “Laser Shot” – an interactive shooting experience is available in both galleries. To shoot at the shooting range – to rent a place and gun (cartridges are bought separately), will set you back 300 hryvnias. The minimum age is 18. IBIS offers a wide selection of small-calibre rifles, pneumatic rifles and guns, military-type weapons and a large assortment of sporting guns.
Some other shooting ranges you might want to try out:
LEKS Shooting Training Centre (Kurskaia 4, MVokzalna), 352-0890, www.club-lex.org.ua
BEKAS-Kiev Shooting Club (9 kilometres from Kyiv on the Obukhov road, behind restaurant Caravan), 578-1661, www.bekas.ua
Sapsan-Sports Sport-shooting Complex (Chkalova 29, Brovary, Kyiv region), 945-3517, 946-7107, 944-2468, www.sapsan.ua
Sniper Shooting Range (Lesnaya 1, Kapitanivka village, Kiev-Svyatoshinsky), 233-9912, 505-4556
Realist Shooting Club (Melnikova 46a, MDorohozhychi), 483-3823, www.realist-club.com
Gadkiy Coyot Computer Shooting Range (3rd floor, Obolonskiy Avenue 1b, Dream town, M Obolon), 678-4323, 681-8935, www.popadala.com
by Oleksandra Obushna