Wielding a golden pistol in a suburb of Warsaw, the Polish capital, Julia Paszek says she is ready to defend Poland “at all costs.”
Admitting that the Desert Eagle semi-automatic pistol is “slightly too heavy”, the smiling insurance analyst told MailOnline: “I’m not a soldier, but I also don’t want to be a bystander or helpless victim.”
The 33-year-old added: ‘I’m ready to do what I have to do. At all costs, I will defend Poland from Putin’s evil.
The Woman with the Golden Gun: Julia Paszek with her Desert Eagle semi-automatic pistol
Shooting instructor Paulina Ptaszyńska says “the profile of people applying for gun permits has changed” since Putin’s invasion of Ukraine
As the war rages across the border in the Ukraine, Julia is just one of thousands of Poles now taking up arms.
Seeing themselves as a ‘front-line state’, Polish citizens are preparing for the ‘worst-case scenario’ by buying weapons en masse and taking shooting lessons.
Although it still has one of the lowest numbers of guns per capita in Europe, more than a quarter of a million people in Poland now have a firearms license, up 37,000 last year from 2021.
I am not a soldier… but neither will I be a bystander or a helpless victim’
Consequently, shooting ranges have also reported a boom in business as record numbers flock to the clubs to improve their marksmanship skills.
A couple in their 20s who recently took up arms said: ‘We wanted to come and find out what it’s like to shoot a gun.
“On the one hand it’s cool, but on the other it’s a little scary.”
Another named Marcin said: ‘When I saw what happened on February 24, I thought I’m not prepared if something like this happened in Poland.
‘It is better to be prepared because none of us knows what is going to happen in the future.’
Piotr Mioduchowski, owner of PM Shooters in Warsaw, told The First News website: “Before the war in Ukraine started, we used to get about 35 inquiries a day from people who wanted to book shooting slots.”
“Now we’re over 200. On the weekends, we’re completely full.”
He added: ‘People are worried that Russia will reach Poland through Ukraine.
Brother And Sisters At Arms: A Polish Woman Shoots A Pistol At A Shooting Range PM Shooters
PM Shooters in Warsaw received about 35 inquiries a day before the war compared to 200 a day now.
PM Shooters instructor demonstrates how to hold a pistol in front of participants at the shooting range
On target: A PM shooter instructor hands a visitor his target sheet.
The head of the shooting range, Paweł Dyngosz, says that his ranges are training up to 300 people per day.
“So a lot of people are interested in getting a gun license or just want to learn the basics of how to shoot a gun.”
This is a sentiment shared by Paweł Dyngosz, president of an association that runs several shooting ranges in Poland.
He said: ‘Before the war, we trained a few dozen people a day at our facilities.
“Now we have to train up to 300 people.”
At another shooting range in a former automobile factory on the outskirts of Warsaw,
The 40-year-old dentist Pawel said: ‘It’s war. I have a wife, a son. I need to learn this.
With such high demand, reports say that shooting ranges and gun stores now regularly run out of ammunition.
Shooting instructor Paulina Ptaszyńska said: “The profile of people applying for weapons permits has changed.
‘Before the war, it was a kind of hobby. Today it is much more a need to acquire skills.’
In response to the lawsuit and to increase gun awareness, Ptaszyńska now plans to give lessons in schools.
Shooting instructor Paulina Ptaszyńska now plans to give lessons in schools.
Shooting instructor Paulina Ptaszyńska says that “school-age children will have the opportunity to shoot a real gun”
Proposing semester-long classes, he said: ‘I think shooting sports is very good for children.
‘In the safety education programme, children have the opportunity to shoot a real gun.
“It is a pity that during these classes only one hour per semester is reserved for shooting, which is very little.
‘The shot consists of three elements: knowledge of the techniques, kickbacks and grips.
‘The grip always fits the hand and the strength of the shooter, there is no one way.
‘The second element is to practice techniques so that our body and muscles work automatically.
The third is to shoot live ammunition. Shooting is not the ability to take a shot, but to deal with our psyche.’
At the opening of a high school shooting range in the southern city of Myszkow last year, Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said: “If Russia ever thinks of attacking Poland, Russia must know, the Kremlin must know, that in Poland, 40 million Poles are ready to stand up, arms in hand, to defend their homeland.’
Part of those 40 million are state-owned companies that have also started offering defense training to their staff.
Nearly 5,000 employees of the oil and gas company PGNiG will receive training to improve defense and crisis management skills, including cybersecurity and first aid classes.
Staff can also volunteer for shooting and gun handling courses.
Meanwhile, Poland’s armed forces have seen a surge in new recruits.
Nearly 14,000 new recruits signed up in 2022, the highest number since the end of conscription in 2008.
In January this year, Poland’s defense minister Mariusz Błaszczak said: “This is only the first stage, because this year, in 2023, our ‘Become a Soldier of Poland’ campaign will only gain momentum.”
In addition, the Polish territorial defense forces have reported that recruits have multiplied by seven.
Introducing new recruits for armed combat in a forest outside the capital Warsaw, Lt. Pawel Pinkowski, 40, a company commander and veteran of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, told Stripes: “They want to defend themselves. themselves, their families.” and his homeland.
‘The situation in Ukraine has shown that, in fact, it is better to be prepared.’