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As the Ukraine crisis brings the fear of China closer to home, more people are seeking weapons training in Taiwan

Image: Reuters Berita 24 English - Some people in Taiwan are taking shooting classes for the first time in their lives, from tour guides to...

Image: Reuters

Berita 24 English - Some people in Taiwan are taking shooting classes for the first time in their lives, from tour guides to tattoo artists, as Russia's invasion of Ukraine raises fears of a similar action by China on the democratic island.

China's increasing military pressure on the island it claims as its own, along with the conflict in Ukraine, has sparked debate about how to beef up Taiwan's defenses.

Bookings for lessons in how to shoot airsoft guns, or low-power devices designed to launch non-metallic projectiles, have nearly quadrupled since the war in Ukraine began three months ago, according to a representative of a combat skills training firm in Taiwan.

"An increasing number of individuals are coming to participate," said Max Chiang, CEO of Polar Light, which is situated in a Taipei suburb.

He stated that some of the people who came to the shooting range this year had never handled a gun before, and that the number of people had "tripled or quadrupled" since the start of the Ukraine conflict, which Moscow refers to as a "special military operation."

Some Taiwanese believe that China, which has never ruled out using force to seize control of the island, may increase the pressure, taking advantage of the West's focus on supporting and equipping Ukraine in its response to Moscow.

Taiwan has boosted its alert level, but no significant military movements by Beijing have been observed.

Su Chun, a 39-year-old tattoo artist who was resolved to learn how to handle air guns, is one of those prepared for a Chinese danger.

"I wanted to learn some combat skills that weren't only confined to shooting a rifle. Perhaps the ability to react quickly in any situation "he stated

However, Su noted that firearms training would be beneficial if the government called out reservists like him to repel a Chinese invasion.

"Most people do not want to go to war, and I do not want to go to war either, but if this horrible thing occurs, I will be mentally prepared."

Airsoft weapons, which are popular for military simulation, are taught as a competition sport in Taiwan, which strictly regulates gun ownership, but many of the movements and techniques involved, from shooting position to targeting, mirror fighting abilities.

The devices use compressed air to deliver less harmful projectiles to their targets, such as little plastic balls.

Hundreds of pupils picked up air pistols for the first time at a Taipei shooting range on a Sunday afternoon as trainers discussed safety requirements and basic basics.

After the battle in Ukraine, tour guide Chang Yu, who attended the entry-level training with his wife, felt a "urgent" need to learn more about defensive firearms.

"The threat from across the Strait has become serious," the 34-year-old, who was wearing a bullet belt and goggles, said, referring to the waterway between Taiwan and China.

"It got us thinking about how we should prepare ourselves if anything like that happens in Taiwan."

He claimed that the pair had gathered protection gear at home, including pepper spray and an intrusion alarm system.

Aside from weapons training, some Taiwanese lawmakers have advised the people to begin planning for a day when most cities will be without electricity and water for days.

Lin Ping-yu, a council candidate for the ruling Democratic Progressive Party, said the Ukraine conflict had spurred him to prepare survival packs for his family, complete with emergency food supplies and batteries, in case the worst happened.

Lin, the author of a book about China's military danger, adding, "Think about how you might help yourself and others survive."

"We are in the midst of immense dangers. There is a risk of losing our freedom and democracy, as well as all we hold dear in our daily lives."

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