Finland is Building Shooting Ranges to Boost Citizen Soldiers


Finland is Building Shooting Ranges to Boost Citizen Soldiers
Finland is Building Shooting Ranges to Boost Citizen Soldiers

A recent article in the Telegraph was republished on Yahoo. The article touted the Finnish government’s decision to open 300 shooting ranges to encourage the development of shooting skills by Finnish citizens, for the purpose of national defense. From the article:

“This is because of our defence model, which benefits from people having and developing their shooting skills on their own.”

In 2023, Finland’s new Right-wing coalition agreed plans to increase the number of ranges to 1,000 nationwide by the end of the decade, as well as plans to allow diabetics to serve in the army and encourage more women to join up.

There are currently around 600 ranges in Finland, compared with 2,000 at the turn of the 21st century.

Only 25 years ago, Finland had 2,000 shooting ranges. Consider the trend. It means 1,400 shooting ranges were closed or destroyed in the last 25 years. It coincides well with the fall of the Soviet Union and the belief that Finland no longer had to worry about invasion.

The hard lessons of the Winter War of 1939 – 1940 were minimized. Although completely outmatched by Soviet manpower and material, Finns fought the Soviet behemoth and kept their independence. They are said to have caused 300,000 Soviet casualties while suffering only 68,000 casualties. Over 125,000 Soviets were killed, and about 25,000 Finns were. They ended up ceding 11% of their territory, but they survived as a country.

Every Finnish school child knows the history of Simo Häyhä, “the White Death.” He was one of the most successful snipers in history, killing 500 Soviet soldiers in three months of winter.  The Finnish military expects a great many of its 900,000 reservists to be able to accomplish many of the same feats as Simo Häyha.

The Finnish government’s hostile attitude toward maintaining the country’s shooting ranges died with the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Finns, Swedes, Czechs, Poles, Latvians, Lithuanians, and Estonians no longer believed they could rely on economic ties with the Russian Federation to prevent the same Russian bellicosity and aggressive, expansionist policies they saw in WWII. From dailymail.co.uk:

In a nation where hunting is arguably, after ice-hockey, the national sport, more than a million people own guns — and, as I saw when visiting a shooting centre in Lappeenranta, 12 miles from the Russian border, they know how to use them.

But then, as the owner, Matti Myllynen, told me, children often begin lessons at seven years old, and by 15 they can hunt alone. Since the Ukraine invasion, he said, his membership has risen by 50 per cent; a trend mirrored across the country.

‘The standard of shooting in Finland is already comparable with the world’s best, but now people are coming to brush up on their skills,’ he said, adding sagely: ‘In these uncertain times, they want to be ready. We have a saying here in Finland: if you want peace, then prepare for war.’

An armed population is a deterrent to invasion. It is not enough by itself. Finland has a population of 5.5 million. Of those, only 430,000 have firearms licenses. The Daily Mail has misinterpreted the data. Finland has over a million privately owned firearms but only 430,000 licensees. Finland has one of the highest rates of firearms ownership in Europe. About ten percent of adults own firearms. In the United States, the number is somewhere above 30%. Many of those firearms in Finland are hunting rifles.  As seen in Ukraine, far more than rifles are required.  A “right-wing” Finish government is rapidly building up its artillery and mortar capacity. From Defensenews.com:

The Finnish government has announced that it will invest over $130 million over the next three to four years to double the country’s production of artillery and mortar ammunition.

The decision, touted by the Finnish Defense Minister Antti Häkkänen in a Dec. 12 post on X, comes amid the European Union’s stagnant progress in increasing ammunition supplies to Ukraine.

Finland has not been alone in degrading their rifle ranges. As this correspondent traveled extensively around Australia, it was common to see the remnants of a once vigorous culture of armed citizens. In Australia, those traditions have been and are under serious attack. The left in Australia hates the idea of an armed population.

Road signs are a reminder of a once vigorous Australian gun culture centered on national defense.

In my own hometown in Wisconsin, one of the rare National Guard 600-yard rifle ranges was destroyed during the governorship of Tony Earl (D). I used that range as a young adult. All over the world, a desire to disarm populations has resulted in a denigration of the necessity of armed defense.

Finland is staring the Russian Bear in the face. The history of the Winter War has not yet been erased. Preparing for war, as a necessity to maintain peace, is once again understood to be a historical reality.


About Dean Weingarten:

Dean Weingarten has been a peace officer, a military officer, was on the University of Wisconsin Pistol Team for four years, and was first certified to teach firearms safety in 1973. He taught the Arizona concealed carry course for fifteen years until the goal of Constitutional Carry was attained. He has degrees in meteorology and mining engineering, and retired from the Department of Defense after a 30 year career in Army Research, Development, Testing, and Evaluation.

Dean WeingartenDean Weingarten


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