Brno shooting range offering free training for Ukrainians returning home to fight

Employees at the Brno-Řečkovice shooting range have decided to do their bit in helping Ukrainians defend their country by providing free weapons handling and tactical training courses to those men looking to return to their homeland and fight. Many of the fresh students have never held a gun before, says organiser Josef Kraus. I asked him how the idea to start offering weapons training began.

Josef Kraus | Photo: Petr Tichý,  Czech Radio

“Last weekend we were thinking about how to help more than just by sending money, which many of us did send, and that’s how this idea came about. We have this shooting range, we have free space, the correct environment as well as the weapons, time and will to help.

“We have decided to provide all of this to the people who are willing to return to their homeland and fight for their country. We want to help them prepare themselves for the situation there, which is full of risks.

Illustrative photo:  ČT24

“Many of them have had national service training, but, of these, many have never actually handled a weapon. We just wanted to give them some basic instructions on how to handle a weapon and how to move in a tactical way through the battlefield, for example in urban areas. We do this by investing our own time and energy.”

So, just to be clear, you are teaching them how to handle weapons and then types of tactical movements?

Illustrative photo: ČT24

“Exactly. It really depends on the person and their skills and experience. For those who have absolutely no knowledge of how to handle weapons, we have to start with complete basics, such as safety rules, handling the weapon and reloading.  For those who already have some skills, we can then offer lessons on basic tactical movements.”

How many Ukrainians have attended your course thus far and are you just doing these courses for Ukrainians, or also for those who are foreign fighters hoping to join the Ukrainian Army?

Illustrative photo:  ČT24

“We are mainly focusing on Ukrainian citizens. However, there are also Czech people asking for this basic course and there is a special discount that we offer for Czech citizens as well.

“Thus far, the course has been running for two or three days and we trained around 15 Ukrainian citizens. For tomorrow, we have 10 more reserved for the shooting range, so we are hoping for a snowball effect. The whole Ukrainian community will soon know about this project and will join.”

I read that you are conducting the training with AK-47 rifles. That, of course, makes sense given what soldiers there are likely to handle. But are you also training on other weapons?

Photo: Petr Tichý,  Czech Radio

“Yes, exactly. We do have plenty of weapons, such as pistols. However, there is no need to train with pistols to prepare for a Ukrainian battlefield right now. The AK-47 assault rifle, as the main rifle that soldiers are using in Ukraine, is the weapon that we are focusing on.”