Whenever we think Sports in Pakistan, Cricket, Hockey, Soccer, and Squash are the obvious ones that come to our minds, since these are the sports we are good at, or at least used to excel in.
“If the government facilitates these shooters, who knows, we might end up winning medals internationally as well.”
However, in recent years, Shooting has emerged as one of the newly emerging sport where people have shown considerable interest and if the government facilitates these shooters, who know we might end up winning medals internationally as well. HIT IN PAKISTAN had a chat with a renowned enthusiast Zahid Motiwala, CEO of Guns & Accessories and asked him about the rise of Shooting as a Sport in the largest city of Pakistan, and how it can be converted into an affordable and popular sport.
What steps do you think helped in making Shooting a popular sport in Pakistan?
I believe that Shooting as a sport has become popular in Pakistan during the last 5 years. Before there, there were hardly any shooting ranges in Karachi that too for private use; in fact, there was just one shooting range in the whole province until Rangers, PAF and Pakistan Army entered the field. It is because of their efforts that Shooting has become an option for many sportsmen and sportswomen out there who can now think of it as a sport, instead of taking it up as a hobby.
How do you think Shooting will become popular amongst the masses in Pakistan?
There is no way better than Word of Mouth because people who can be interested in the Sport would get to hear about it from their friends who walk in the same circles. In the past, well-off friends of gun enthusiasts visiting Pakistan, would arrange an event for them and it was a one off day out and that was just about it. Now, fortunately, we have few shooting ranges have come up, where you can become a member for a one-time fee as well as a monthly subscription. Here you can improve your skills, invite friends, learn the basics of shooting through proper training by professionals.
You are one of the biggest traders of guns in Pakistan … when people approach you for a weapon, what is the reason behind the purchase?
Usually, the people who come to us for a weapon want it for personal use mainly protection – self-defense. But we have seen an increase in customers who now pay us a visit for weapons that are used in long-range target shooting. It’s an expensive hobby but when they can afford a membership at a shooting range, they can afford a gun that suits their need as well. Their number may be few right now but there is a steady increase due to the interest in the sport.
What kind of guns do you recommend to these people?
There are two kinds of guns – Handguns and Rifles – that people want to purchase when they approach us. While Handguns are mainly Personal Use and/or Self Defense, Rifles are for a longer range such as hunting or target shoot.
“The Handguns we sell for personal use are .22 mm and .9 mm caliber that have a range of between 10 to 25 meters; they are different from competition pistols although the typical distance for the Olympics is also 25 meters”
The Handguns we sell for personal use are .22 mm and .9 mm caliber that have a range of between 10 to 25 meters; they are different from competition pistols although the typical distance for the Olympics is also 25 meters. As for Rifles, the range starts from 50 meters and goes up till 1000 meters. We usually have 50 to 100 meters ranges in Karachi with just one shooting range that caters to 1000 meters. That’s why at the moment, handguns seem to be the ideal choice for customers but Rifles are gaining popularity as well for long range shooting competitions.
And there must be age restrictions for such customers, right?
Yes, there is. It used to be 18 years previously but now the government has increased the minimum age to 24 since people at 18 are not mature enough to handle guns.
Golf was a male-dominated expensive Sport before women turned to it and now we have women golfers making a name for themselves. Do you think that the same thing will happen to the Sport of Shooting in the coming days?
People in Pakistan think that Shooting is a male sport where it is not. We have to raise awareness in this regard and involve interested females as well.
“Many women have started taking interest in Shooting but
that’s mainly for Self Defense and not as a hobby.”
Many women have started taking interest in Shooting but that’s mainly for Self Defense and not as a hobby. We have to break the cultural barrier where women are considered weaker than men because that’s not the case anymore. We now have lighter weapons such as .22 that are recommended for use by females since they are easier to handle, easy to load and have lesser recoil when fired giving the shooter good control and accuracy.
And how do you propose to increase awareness among women?
In Pakistan, only those women whose husbands are hunters or gun enthusiasts have any kind of exposure to the gun, the rest have either never seen a gun or are apprehensive just by the thought of a gun.
“We plan to include more women and welcome them on board through our proposed Gun Club Guns and Gals where not only will they be educated about the Guns but also we will hone their skills as well”
We plan to include more women and welcome them on board through our proposed Gun Club Guns and Gals where not only will they be educated about the Guns but also we will hone their skills as well. This will not only bring a cultural change but also break the taboo that women can’t shoot. If they can be pilots, drive cars, play Cricket, travel around the country on their bikes, play squash and teach in Universities, why can’t they handle Gun like their male counterparts. Guns are for self-defense and there are no rules prejudicing against females.
“Women must have the same equal rights as men to defend themselves”
Through our club, women will be trained by women (initially it will be men!) and in the longer run, it will be entirely managed by women making it a one-of-its-kind facility in the country. They can learn and interact with each other and get to know basics behind a Gun such as safety, handling, maintenance of a gun etc. I am sure that once females start using guns for self-defense, menaces like the Chakoo (knife) killer will be as good as dead. Women must have the same equal rights as men to defend themselves.
Why is Shooting not being promoted in Pakistan like other sports?
If you look closely, the Sports that are doing well in Pakistan are promoted by their Boards and Associations and not just by the Government. If the Government decides to support promising Sports like shooting, that too financially, then I am sure many people will readily adopt the sport and who knows, we might even produce world-renowned shooters in the near future.
Any suggestions that you may have in mind for the Government?
Shooting is a very expensive sport because the cost of ammunition, weapons and even the shooting range (as in membership) is too much for a common person. Other governments support their Shooting community in the purchase and in acquiring ammunition through sponsors but here; those people who represent Pakistan internationally have to bear these expenses through their own sources. A few years back, when we were allowed to buy Chinese ammo, things were better for both the Dealers and Customers but ever since the ban on import of bullets by the Government, the expense has just shot up. The ideal situation would have been that after the ban, Pakistan Ordinance Factory (POF) should have reduced their rates as well but this did not happen.
“Government to either revoke the ban or regularize POF’s rates
so that Shooting can prosper as a Sport in Pakistan”
The Chinese bullet that was imported for about Rs. 35 now costs us Rs. 145 whereas the bullets manufactured at POF now costs us Rs. 60 per bullet whereas the cost of actual manufacture is hardly Rs. 15. Instead of giving bulk deals or discounts to dealers, they have increased their prices so much that it has become exceedingly difficult for licensed dealers of Arms and Ammunition like myself so remain viable. They are benchmarking their prices against the increased prices of imported ammo, making more profit and I would like to urge the Government to either revoke the ban or regularize POF’s rates so that Shooting can prosper as a Sport in Pakistan.
Do events like 8th long-range shooting that took place a couple of months back in interior Sindh help in developing Shooting as a Sport?
They help create awareness of the Sport and such events are good for the promotion of outdoor tourism but due to the limit on purchasing of ammunition is a serious limiting factor. If we ask for 10,000 bullets, we get only 1,000 even though we maintain detailed reports and ammo is sold only to the license holders.
“The government must realize that by cutting cost at the POF, they not only can they fulfill increase the demand but also put an end to smuggling”
Nowhere in the world, there is a limit to ammunition purchase but in Pakistan; when the demand for ammunition increases during such events, and we can’t provide them with the bullets, that is where the black marketers come in as they indulge in cross border smuggling and fulfill the increased demands, illegally. The government must realize that by cutting cost at the POF, they not only can increase the demand but also put an end to smuggling.