In Brazil, the boom of shooting clubs after the liberalization of the sale of firearms

Arms outstretched, ears covered by noise canceling headphones and eyes squinting behind her shockproof glasses, Samira Sousa, 44, is about to pull the trigger of a 9mm Taurus. The projectile pierces the heart of the human silhouette drawn on a paper target, 16 meters away. ” Cheer !congratulates Charles Santos, the shooting instructor, in red uniform, sweeping the bullet cartridges scattered on the ground. You don’t even need a teacher anymore. » To the left of Samira, her husband, Tiago, is doing less well. Embarrassed, he folds his target to hide his poor performance.

The couple are among the new students of Firegun, a sports shooting center inaugurated in September 2022 in a residential area of ​​Sao Bernardo do Campo, a suburb of Sao Paulo. “I wanted to learn how to defend my home, Brazil is very dangerous”explains Samira, who trains with her husband three times a month in this club, open 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The sports coach, who recently bought a weapon, shot for the first times a little over a year ago. “At first I was shaking, she remembers. Then, over the training sessions, I ended up getting a taste for it.. It feels good, it relieves stress. »

Before the presidency of Jair Bolsonaro (2019-2022), the practice of shooting was mainly reserved for the police, the military, hunters and athletes. But, following the liberalization of the acquisition and carrying of firearms by the far-right former president, this activity exploded. According to army statistics, between 2019 and 2022, 1,493 new sports shooting clubs opened their doors: on average, more than one club per day. A figure more than three times higher than the average of the previous four years.

From now on, sports shooting attracts a wider audience. “Sunday, we taught a 70-year-old lady! », welcomes Rafael Navaes, the coordinator of the club, which has two shooting ranges and has nearly 500 members. Today, shoot a gun, “It’s like going to the gym”says this former police officer with a thick beard and hands covered with tattoos.

“It’s like going to mass”

According to Rafael Navaes, the key to the success of Firegun rests, as in other clubs, on its ” family atmosphere “. Previously, “The clubs were dark, often set up in basements. The structure of this club has been designed from top to bottom for our clientele”. Behind the small track with three shooting lines, where Tiago and Samira train, the club has set up a “VIP” room with a gray sofa and a television where their son, Ravi, 1.5 years old, waits in his pajamas in front of a cartoon. Between two rounds of shots, Tiago turns to wave at him through the window. The little blond with blue eyes is hilarious.

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