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With several shooting awards to boot, Priscilla Mburu sets sight on the biggest one yet – Business Daily

International Olympic Solidarity Athlete Priscilla Mburu of National Police College Kiganjo during an air weapons training session at the Kenya Regiment Rifle Club Range on September 6, 2022. PHOTO | DIANA NGILA | NMG
Safely behind the glass, the shots are not as loud as you expect a discharging firearm to be. Jennifer Uche is a tourist on her last day in Kenya before heading back West in search of other adventures.
She has always wanted to fire a gun and a few hours before she got on her flight back to Nigeria, someone told her that she could walk into the Nairobi Sailing and Sub Aqua Club in Lang’ata and do just that.
The only thing she has on that remotely resembles a gun enthusiast are the green camouflage crocs on her feet. She is in a flower dress and once armed with earplugs and protective eyewear, she nervously walks into the shooting area.
Her instructor places a target five metres in front of her and quickly relays the basics. She places her elbows on the high stand and aims her pistol.
She fires and misses wildly, her first shot crashing into the blue barrels yonder. A few words from her instructor seem to help as she manages to get a few bullets onto the target in the next volley.
International Olympic Solidarity Athlete Priscilla Mburu of National Police College Kiganjo during an air weapons training session at the Kenya Regiment Rifle Club Range on September 6, 2022. PHOTO | DIANA NGILA | NMG
She has a quick word in the expert’s ear. He nods and with a giddy skip runs to retrieve her phone that was elsewhere – to capture the moments to share with friends and family.
Downstairs is where the beginners and leisure shooters come. The big guns and those that bear them are upstairs in the Air Pistol Range. It is where Priscilla Mburu, the International Olympic Solidarity Athlete, stands holding one.
She is adorned in Kenyan colours. Her second name runs top to bottom on the back of her jacket, Priscilla in the same fashion on the back of her pants. She walks with what initially seems to be a limp but she explains that the stiff canvas-like material used for her attire is the cause. At Firing Point No. 10, Ms Mburu sets up her rifle on a tripod.
On a table within arm’s length is a screen. She fiddles with it, presumably to key in some settings. She puts on a red visor cap, wears fingerless gloves and with exquisitely manicured fingers places a pellet into the chamber.
She slowly lifts her rifle from its station, takes a deep breath, cradles the firearm in her shoulder, rests her cheek on the butt and looking through her scope squeezes the trigger. She resets the rifle and repeats – and repeats, each time checking her score on the screen in front of her.
Ms Mburu is a figure in deep concentration despite increasingly loud rain beating down on the roof at the range. She is in a world all by herself. A routine becomes noticeable, she runs her bottom lip against the back end of her gun every time before taking a shot.
Taking a break, she grabs a beetroot smoothie and sits down to talk about her shooting career and preparations for an upcoming Olympic Qualifying event.
“The first time I touched a gun was when I joined the Police force in 2015,” she says.
During the initial police training in Kiganjo, Ms Mburu heard ‘horror stories’ about guns recoiling and hitting clueless recruits – blowback, she calls it. She recalls that she was a very tiny girl then but when she got to the range, she took to shooting like a duck to water. She recalls, “I loved the gun and it loved me.”
Barely a year later, she made it into the inter-police national competition where she was introduced to the ‘full bow’ gun where shooting is done outside with the elements, wind being the most problematic of them while shooting at targets as far out as 1,000 metres.
Her curiosity and interest in shooting was piqued and not long after, she was in Nanyuki again and this time was awarded a trophy in the beginner competition, setting her on the path she’s been on to this today.
Presently, Ms Mburu is in a weapon training session under a scholarship from the National Olympic Committee of Kenya (NOC-K) and with the support of her Federation – Kenya Sports Shooting.
International Olympic Solidarity Athlete Priscilla Mburu of National Police College Kiganjo during an air weapons training session at the Kenya Regiment Rifle Club Range on September 6, 2022. PHOTO | DIANA NGILA | NMG
To be here, she drives from Kiganjo where she works as a firearms instructor at the Kenya Police Training College – a career she prefers to not talk publicly about.
Even to an untrained eye, she is a natural with the gun and shooting targets at the 10-metre range comes seemingly easy to her. She, however, disputes this assertion.
“This sport is 90 percent training. If you do not practice, all the talent in the world means nothing. The more you love and work on something, the easier it becomes,” she says.
One of the highlights of her career came when she was still, in her words, “new to the sport”. She travelled to the UK in 2016 and fighting crippling nerves and anxiety, she won silver in the .22 prone (shooting while laying down), an accolade that led her being awarded the Order of the Grand Warrior in recognition of her achievement.
“It was a humongous achievement, especially being so young in the service, barely a corporal,” Ms Mburu proudly recalls.
In October, she will travel to Egypt to make her first attempt at qualifying for the Olympic Games in Paris in 2024. She is, however a realist and recognises that ‘every shooter in the world will be there’ making her qualification attempt that much harder.
If Cairo does not work out as she hopes, she will try again at the African Championships where she better fancies her chances. She is grateful to NOC-K for the scholarship and her bosses for being supportive enough to facilitate her rigorous training regimen. She hopes to reward the faith shown by firing her way into Paris.
Shooting is an expensive choice in career and without such financial support would prove unattainable for many. An air pistol sells for as much as Sh350,000 with a rifle going for Sh100,000 – on average.
Add shooting pellets which cost Sh3,000 a tin, the gear needed and travel involved, it would cost a small fortune. For the beginner shooters downstairs, a gun, bullets and protective wear for both eyes and ears cost around Sh5,000 a session which lasts anywhere from 15 to 30 minutes.
In addition to shooting, Ms Mburu is interested in theatre and acting and hopes to one day pursue that path more seriously.
In the meantime, that and everything else is on the back burner as she gets back to Firing Point No. 10 and repeats her routine – fingerless gloves go on, she raises her rifle, takes a deep breath and runs her bottom lip on the back of the gun, deep in concentration. She looks through the scope and fires.
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