Inexperienced shooter. Semi-automatic pistol. Lack of attentive instruction. What could go wrong? Well, let’s see. Aleksandra Voronkova, 33 and her boyfriend like to shoot at the Khishchnik Club and decided to invite friends from work to come out and shoot. Sounds okay, right? But said friends, or at least one of them, had no background in shooting. The new shooters received what appears to be a perfunctory safety briefing but no specific instruction on the particular weapon they were shooting. Whoops.
The women began by shooting small-caliber weapons. Their dates followed by shooting the more manly-man calibers. Then the errors in judgement began their inexorable march towards a fatal conclusion.
The men suggested the women try shooting the “real guns.” Uh oh. Tatyana Egorova, 40, had never shot a gun before that day. Much less, a more serious weapon like the MP-446 Viking, the civilian version of the Russian MP-443 Grach – the standard-issue sidearm for Mother Russia’s boys in brown. Chambered in 9mm (admittedly on the wimpy side of “manly-man” calibers, but still), it has a 17-round capacity.
Apparently the whole “let’s load the gun with a single round and see how she does” meme just didn’t occur to anybody. Tatyana let one fly, and being an inexperienced shooter, did not properly anticipate the recoil. Somehow, she managed a double-tap her first time out. Only problem was, the second shot failed to go down-range, but instead tore through the separator, dividing the range into firing lanes. The negligent/accidental (take your pick on this one) round slammed into a metal plate, ricocheted off, and struck the unfortunate Ms. Voronkova in the head. She was pronounced dead at the hospital several hours later.
The two women were friends, who worked together at Moscow University’s Anthropology department. Egorova had mentored Voronkova during an archeological expedition.
No one has yet been charged in the incident. The range policy was apparently to limit inexperienced shooters to a single round, until they could prove they were comfortable with the weapon. The Khishchnik (Predator) Club is a seven-year-old facility, with a fairly prestigious reputation in the Motherland.
“You would load one round and allow a single shot. She would learn the recoil, and the instructor would see whether she can handle it or not. Then in theory, if the instructor sees that the student is in control, he may allow two or three rounds to be loaded. If they gave her a fully loaded gun and allowed shooting around, the blame is on the shooting range owner, who hired an incompetent instructor to train people,” Igor Zolotarev, sports director of the Shooting Sports Union of Russia, commented for Vesti FM radio station.
Having spent a good deal of time at ranges, I can see how this would happen. Busy range. Group of friends, two of which are experienced shooters. Range owners assume the experienced ones know enough to keep the newbies out of trouble. They don’t. Range officer is distracted. Tragedy ensues.
I don’t know about you, but I prefer to go to ranges during off-peak hours. And in the past, I’ve always been a little more aware of my surroundings and fellow shooters, if I happen to go when the range is busy. In the future, I think if the range is busy, I’ll just come back later. There’s a lot of things you can control, simply by being aware of your surroundings. Negligence in the First Degree by your neighbors in the next lane over ain’t one of ’em.