The Shooters of Varusteleka

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Being as we are a military and outdoor specialist business, a high proportion of our staff are into things like hiking and bushcraft, and hunting, as presented in this previous article. This time, we're looking at the shooters: various shooting disciplines are a swell combination of physical skill, mental capability, and technical knowledge. There's always more to learn and there's no such thing as a complete or finished shooter. Can you get more Zen?

So much for the intro, let the doers talk:

Hemmo P.

What led you to shooting?

Shooting and weapons have fascinated me for as long as I can remember. We never had guns at home, so as a kid I only occasionally got to shoot a neighbor's rifle. After moving to central Finland, I got into high gear at a local indoor range and it was head first into the deep end for me from there.

Which disciplines do you shoot?

I began with the dynamic disciplines with a focus on Practical shooting and duty-oriented practices. As the years have gone by, I've broadened by palette and these days I shoot a wide range of disciplines such as 50m Pistol, 25m Rimfire Pistol, IPSC (Production and Revolver divisions) and of course the Brutalities.

Flexibility is good for fundamental shooting skills and I think highly of diversity of the disciplines.

What are your goals as a shooter?

My shooter identity for the past ten years has focused on the role of an instructor and coach and my main goal is to be the best shooting instructor and coach in Finland. As an individual shooter, my goals for the next few years are at the national level of traditional handgun disciplines.

Having been a practical shooter for a long time, the adaptation into traditional shooting sports is quite major and that's why I'm looking three years ahead at the moment. Regardless of discipline, I aim for constant improvement as a shooter and coach.

The public often have a biased view about guns and shooting sport. How do you think these could be addressed?

Knowledge and experience are the best cures for unfounded fears and prejudice. It's every shooter's responsibility to let others know about these activities to get rid of incorrect beliefs.

Describe your perfect range session?

  • The goals and contents of the practice planned ahead
  • Drills (incl. equipment) prepared beforehand
  • The correct mindset of being present and focused
  • Repetition of quality
  • Detailed and comprehensive notes of how the practice went, my mental state, and general conditions.

To shoot or practice are two different things. Shooting is pew-pew-pew without worrying about anything and rarely leads to improvement despite the feeling of doing a lot of work. Practice is planned and controlled activity, where the focus is on reaching goals. Many probably perceive my range sessions as boring, as the things going on at the atomic level are not immediately obvious to a bystander.

What are your tips for someone who considers starting or is a beginner?

Stop dreaming and start doing. Find a professional instructor to get your first steps right, it's the best favor a new shooter can give themselves. Focus on quality practice and honing the fundamentals. Everything else is tacked-on extra.

Which factors important to you when choosing gear and clothing to be used while shooting?

Being purpose-built. Skill and competence can't be replaced with cloting and gear but you can make practice easier and more comfortable with the right accessories.

Sauli L-M

Sauli and his AK at Finnish Brutality

What led you to shooting?

As a teenager, LARP and Airsoft turned into an interest in firearms and I dipped my toes into pistol shooting at a commercial indoor range. I started collecting guns the same year I turned 18. Hitting targets in the shortest possible time also from funny positions were most interesting from the start.

Which disciplines do you shoot?

Just the dynamic ones: IPSC, SRA, IDPA, Brutalities. The capacity for precision is a fundamental skill and it's a mandatory component of success in these as well, but I have never been drawn to disciplines were precision is the only factor. However, I prefer scoring systems that emphasize precision (such as IDPA's), because you can't miss fast enough.

What are your goals as a shooter?

Instead of competitive goals, my point of reference is my earlier skill level: "Am I better today than yesterday?" In the current state, rifle skills are my weakest area. As a city dweller, my hobby was focused on handguns at indoor ranges for a long time.

This shouldn't say I'm pretending to be above matching my skills with others. Rather, it's a realistic thought that my current amount of effort doesn't make me a challenger to local champs. I do have some trophies and medals in my cupboard from smaller matches.

The public often have a biased view about guns and shooting sport. How do you think these could be addressed?

Free events and general openness instead of hiding in the bush. Exposure and good experience leads to better understanding of things that are strange to oneself. This applies to many things.

Describe your perfect range session?

The trip to the range is perfect when I realize something new through a mistake or accomplishment. Also, I stop the practice early enough so that my memory footprint is not stained with boredom and frustration.

I'm something of a Fake Instructor and sometimes comment a bit too much. Sometimes, I'm able to actually help someone become a better shooter and that's always an uplifting win for me.

What are your tips for someone who considers starting or is a beginner?

Don't make things too difficult for yourself thinking it'll teach you more: good equipment actually helps you learn faster. But no matter how good a gun and accessories you buy, it doesn't matter if you don't practice.

Which factors important to you when choosing gear and clothing to be used while shooting?

I'm not the least bit ashamed to admit I want everything to be stylish. When it comes to gear, I avoid anything made solely for competition and my clothes are also the kind I wear everyday: the civilian counterpart to "field-worthy".

Veera K.

Veera Vares-Cupissa

What led you to shooting?

Years ago I was lured into trying out shooting and it turned out to be so fun I got a little hooked. At first, I frequented an indoor range and shot a rimfire handgun until I got into dynamic shooting through an SRA course.

I went on a hiatus due to a new job, moving south, and leaving my old club behind. After some deliberation and nerding out, I got to try out some pew-pew action at Finnish Brutality and thoroughly enjoyed it. I found a new club and got back on the horse.

Which disciplines do you shoot?

At the moment, I'm shooting SRA with a couple of matches under my belt. I intend to participate in Brutality matches and at some point, give IPSC a try.

What are your goals as a shooter?

Most importantly, getting used to moving about with a firearm and handling unexpected situations like malfunction clearances. The process of drawing, aiming and firing could also be a bit faster. At some point, it would be nice to climb up from the end of the match result list.

The public often have a biased view about guns and shooting sport. How do you think these could be addressed?

This is a damn tough one. Maybe by demonstrating the community spirit and how seriously safety considerations are taken.

Describe your perfect range session?

Due to not yet having firearms of my own and the scarcity of group practices with loaner guns, I don't have that many sessions to compare to. I'd say the perfect range session consists of having improved something or learned something new, and of course having had fun.

What are your tips for someone who considers starting or is a beginner?

Join a club and boldly give it a try. Keep a record of your shooting sessions. Ask for advice and volunteer as a helping hand to a shooting match to see what it's all about. Getting to know people in the process is sure to help - it's easier to maintain any activity when there are friends involved.

Which factors important to you when choosing gear and clothing to be used while shooting?

Durability, having not been made in a sweatshop, safety (no superfluous trinkets that could snag), mobility and fit of the garment, and pockets.

The mobility and fit can be challenging for a female, as combat gear is most often designed with a male body in mind and the sizes run large. In my previous match, I found the Särmä Women's Shorts to work quite well at the range - though you'll appreciate knee pads on stages where you go low.

Jari L.

Crouching Jari w. Rifle

What led you to shooting?

The spark for shooting has been there probably since a kid, as most boys born in the '70s would relate. Airguns were used hard.

During my armed service and after moving into the reserve, goal-oriented shooting started to intrigue me more and more. Participating in reservist exercises was perhaps the final strike of the flint to get the flame going, as shooting and weapons manipulation are essential skills of the infantry soldier.

I have a long history with martial arts and I see lots of similarities between them and shooting sports. There's always something to learn and the more you train, the more challenges and possibilities you unlock.

Which disciplines do you shoot?

Dynamic shooting is closest to my heart: SRA, Practical, and 2-Gun Action Matches such as the Desert and Finnish Brutalities. I'm versatile, though, so I eagerly snatch opportunities to try out different disciplines.

What are your goals as a shooter?

I have no external goals, such as a certain position in the result of a match. I compete against myself and aim for constant improvement. I enjoy matches but my only goals are to be better than I was before.

Matches are a good way to test the level of skill and learn how a little pressure affects the performance. An important factor to me is how the skills benefit the needs of a reservist. The direction where I want to evolve is the one that serves a possible war-time placement.

The public often have a biased view about guns and shooting sport. How do you think these could be addressed?

I think shooters should be as inclusive and extroverted as possible. Many misconceptions about these activities is due to lack of information or incorrect information. The more we spread positive vibes, the more understandable shooting becomes. As a practical measure, take friends to the range to see what it's all about.

Describe your perfect range session?

Training in a small group where I'm the least skilled shooter. It allows me to acquire knowledge from better shooters and get tips for my own training.

What are your tips for someone who considers starting or is a beginner?

If you're considering to begin, stop dreaming and start doing. The easiest first step is to find a commercial range or course or get into contact with a local club.

When you have begun already, focus on the fundamentals. In my time, I might have rushed into dynamic action a bit too soon and I'm still working to fix the results of that.

Which factors important to you when choosing gear and clothing to be used while shooting?

My general principle is to buy proper gear just once. When it comes to shooting gear, I focus on the functionality in the field. This might reduce the speed in some areas but at least I'm training with the kind of equipment that is relevant to the reservist.

Eric A.

Eric The Sheriff of Topeno

What led you to shooting?

An interest in war history and firearm history led me to shooting.

Which disciplines do you shoot?

CAS, Practical, Brutality.

What are your goals as a shooter?

To have fun and look good.

The public often have a biased view about guns and shooting sport. How do you think these could be addressed?

More possibilities to try out shooting. Easily approachable, safe, and relaxed training sessions for beginners.

Describe your perfect range session?

A good gang, no tight schedule, and well-designed and managed action.

What are your tips for someone who considers starting or is a beginner?

Be brave and try it out!

Which factors important to you when choosing gear and clothing to be used while shooting?

Comfortable and practical. And it must look good.

Lauri K.

Lauri ja brutaali säkki

What led you to shooting?

As a boy, I was interested in guns first, then video games. At some point, dad got an air rifle to learn safe practices and soon we were at the range trying out the then-scary .22 pistol. Quite soon, curiosity towards the firearm and loud noise was replaced with a search for precision with all its nuances and it has yet to stop. Well, the gear is still interesting. A new gun would be nice.

Which disciplines do you shoot?

SRA is my primary discipline, though I'm not into competing. I use a pistol and rifle for that, a shotgun is on the to-buy list. Very often I'm prone at the 150 m or 300 m range with a rimfire rifle or an AR-15, or trying to increase speed at close distances.

What are your goals as a shooter?

More accurately and faster. I'm still at the level where a single good Youtube video or a short chat with an experienced shooter may bring a concrete benefit to my shooting. It might be a small detail regarding the draw, grip, or reset; these play their part in the improvement of the whole, and even a small success makes practice so much nicer.

The public often have a biased view about guns and shooting sport. How do you think these could be addressed?

To speak up, host open events to the interested, and make the disciplines visible in the media. Especially the latter could do a lot, if we'd get IPSC on TV or to be an Olympic event. It's a pure sport every bit as much as Trap or Javelin Throw.

Describe your perfect range session?

A slight rain or heat wave during the summer cabin season, little if any wind. This often means the range is free to use all by myself for trying out whatever comes to mind or practice very specific things.

I've also noticed that it's good to call it a day when you can't concentrate on each shot. For me, the limit is 120-150 shots and any further shooting is just expensive noise without an educational purpose.

What are your tips for someone who considers starting or is a beginner?

At least one course with experienced instructors can get you quite far. Beginning is often perceived as difficult, as many clubs require a membership and the whole thing might appear to be introverted. The threshold is there, however, and won't go entirely away. Many (indoor) ranges offer courses and sessions that are suitable for beginners which can make the first step easier. You just need to find a range and some time.

Which factors important to you when choosing gear and clothing to be used while shooting?

Buy once, cry once. Read reviews, talk to people, get your hands on if you can. One way to save money is to avoid buying what you can afford right away, but choose the best option and save up for a while.

Of course, making a poor purchase can teach you a lot, but buying the better gear afterwards is tedious. Especially, as the money you spent before could have been spent on ammo.

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