When Soviet Red Army troops poured across the Finnish frontier three months after the outbreak of World War II, Simo Häyhä, a farmer and member of Finland’s Civil Guard, laid down his pitchfork, picked up his M28-30 Mosin Nagant, jammed his Puukko knife in his belt and calmly went out to kill communists.
Häyhä shot more than 540 Red Army troops in just three months — most using iron sights — becoming the most successful sniper in history. Häyhä survived the Winter War, died at the age of 96 and remains one of Finland’s most celebrated national heroes.
Today, Finland maintains a tradition of arms seldom seen outside of the United States. There are approximately 1.5 million registered firearms, but it is estimated there are about the same number of unregistered firearms, which were secretly cached after World War II and the Winter War. The Finns cannot afford to be disarmed, which even their government understands. Their country of 5.6 million people shares an 830-mile border with Russia, which has a population of 143 million, so the Finns can never stop preparing to fight the Russian Bear.
Tensions escalated last year after Finland joined NATO. Russian saw this as a threat and vowed to retaliate. The government in Helsinki took this very seriously. Unlike the Biden-Harris administration, which views law-abiding American gun owners as a threat, Finland incorporates armed civilians into its national defense strategy, so they decided to boost civilian firearm training to help counter the latest Russian threat.
According to the Guardian, the Finnish Defense Forces started by building 300 additional shooting ranges to “encourage more citizens to take up the hobby in the interest of national defense.”
“The present government aims to increase the amount of shooting ranges in Finland from roughly 600-700 up to 1,000. This is because of our defense model, which benefits from people having and developing their shooting skills on their own,” Jukka Kopra, a Minister of Parliament who chairs the country’s defense committee told the British newspaper. A government spokesman added that the new construction will include “rifle” and “tactical” ranges.