Turkey’s first woman sniper urges personal disarmament

Turkey’s first woman sniper urges personal disarmament

Fevzi Kızılkoyun - ANKARA
Turkey’s first woman sniper urges personal disarmament

Sergeant Didem Balıkcı, the first and only woman sniper of the Turkish Armed Forces, has urged citizens not to carry guns, stressing that it is only their job to keep arms to protect civilians.

“As part of our profession, we live with arms. We have to use them when it is our duty to do so. Civilians do not need to take up arms, I’m against individual armament,” she said.

“We are here. The Armed Forces and law-enforcement officers can protect lives and the properties of everyone,” she said.

Balıkcı is currently a team commander at the Gendarmerie General Command. She was inspired by movies such as “The Sniper” and “Enemy at the Gates” before winning the entrance exam for the non-commissioned officer program of the gendarmerie in 2018.

“Upon successfully completing the six-month commando training program, I told my commanders that I wanted to be a sniper. They were surprised at first as there had not been a woman sniper [in Turkey]. I attended the sharpshooter course and got my badge after a hard training process. I was proud to break new ground as a woman and to become the first and only woman sniper in the Armed Forces. I consider it a success for Turkish women. I’ve blazed a trail for all the newcomers, I’ve become a role model,” Balıkcı said.

The profession requires a high level of physical condition, discipline and continuous self-improvement skills, as well as coolness under stress and fast reflexes, she added. “This profession doesn’t allow for any error of margin.”

“My family provided huge support when I chose to be a military servicewoman. They always stood by me and motivated me,” she said.

“My friends, particularly women, are surprised when they acknowledge that I’m a sniper. They ask questions like ‘Are you serious?’ A salvo of questions follows the initial shock. They ask about the weapons that we use, the camouflage paints, the shooting skills and other stuff they see in sniper movie scenes.”

Although she faced some prejudice in the past because of her gender, she is now comfortable while training with her male colleagues as their team commander. “I show what’s right and wrong to do. We work in pairs, a shooter and a spotter. We hold training sessions regularly to be ready when we’re needed in defending the country or in critical operations.”