Articles, Blog

Firearms United Austria Vlog – Interview mit Mario Kneringer (IPSC Austria) [+ ENGLISH SUBS]


Interview with Mario
Kneringer (IPSC Austria) Hello. Please introduce yourself. I am the Regional Director
of IPSC in Austria. The Confederation is organized
in a way that every country has its own national organization
headed by the Regional Director. You could also call him “President”. There recently was the first
IPSC World Championship… For rifles. Handgun championships
have been around for years. What many don’t know: The first world championship for
handguns took place in Austria. How do shooters ideally prepare
and train for a World Championship? In Austria, you actually need
to meet certain qualification criteria. You need to actively compete,
your gear must be in order, etc. You are being sent there
by your region. You can’t just decide by yourself that you wanna go, register and say
“I wanna participate in this”, but the region decides which
shooters will be send to represent it. How did the national chapter
prepare for the World Championship? We of course had to organize
everything on the admin side, so that we would be able
to bring our guns to Russia. Ammunition was another concern, because we were only allowed to
bring 5 kg of ammo on the plane, which would not have been enough. We also supported our athletes
throughout the visa process, as best we could. Registration for the event
also has to be done by the organization, single athletes cannot
register on their own. So we had to get all the
necessary details from each shooter whic we then transmitted to the
organizers in Russia, who then took care of all paperwork. Please describe the situation at
Vienna International Airport. We of course registered the guns
with the airline ahead of time, we had all the paperwork in order. As we were heading to check-in, we of course met well ahead of time
because we knew that the processing of our firearms
would take some time, they really check every detail. So we met up ahead of time, like I said. And as we’re headed towards check-in
we were greeted by two customs officers, who informed us that we would not
be allowed to leave for Russia with our guns. We of course spoke to customs
well in advance. The Customs Service provided us with
an EU directive to the effect that sporting and hunting firearms
including ammunition do not require any kind of
special export authorization. I also tried to get this
in writing from several minstries, but I was unable to
procure any written confirmation. They told us everyhwere that they
didn’t need to provide any confirmation, as there is a current legal statute
which will be enough in and of itself. We were informed that they,
had received a direct order straight from the ministry
that very same morning. I can’t say for sure from whom, as we weren’t shown the email
received by the customs officers, they only ever read
it to us, but it seemed to be an internal
order, requiring them to not let us board our flight
to Russia with our firearms. So the officers were aware
that this order was illegal? Yes, one of the officers
even directly confirmed this, since I had a printed copy of
the relevant EU directive on me, which I showed him and
asked him to comply. He replied that while they
had always done so in the past and although the directive was in effect, they still couldn’t let us board our
flight in contravention to their orders. Would it have been an option to
just borrow guns in Russia? Of course not. First of all, every
athlete has their gear fine tuned. Just like any professional skier
has his skis tailored to their needs, every shooter will prepare
their tools to match their needs, taking into account their height,
special requirements, personalized loads, etc. A lot of time goes into this process
of fine tuning, until everyone is happy with their kit. This would be the same as taking
away a rally driver’s vehicle right before a race and telling them
that they could just as well use any rental car in this race,
which might not even be suited for rally racing in
the first place. What was the outcome at the airport? The situation got quite strange,
as even the customs and police officers at the scene would have
liked to help us out. They even said themselves
that they just couldn’t understand why athletes
would be kept from going to and participating in a major event.
Then we decided to just try and take our
optics off our rifles so we might at least be able
to use them on our rental guns at the event to compensate for
not having our own gear. The customs officers were
nice enough to provide us with a room to work
on our firearms, as we couldn’t just take them
out of their cases right at check-in. A couple of our team members
had already taken their optics off their rifles when suddenly
a phone call came in, to the effect that we wouldn’t even
be allowed to bring our optics onto the plane, nor any
other parts of our gear. How this even came to pass,
I have absolutely no idea. It became pretty clear though,
that someone was doing their utmost to keep us from
boarding that plane with our stuff. And that was the point when
half our team decided that it wouldn’t be worth it to
even go under these circumstances. The other half however decided
that we wouldn’t let this ruin the event and that we’d go even without our guns. This was only possible because I was
able to reach my colleage from work, who came to pick up the rifles
as I couldn’t just leave them at the airport unsupervised. How did the athletes from other
countries fare by comparison? It became clear that out of
all EU countries only Germany, France and
Austria acted in this way. All other countries – Spain,
Portugal, Italy, the Netherlands, Czech Republic, Hungary – none of
them had any problems, all of them were
able to bring their firearms. Just these three countries
didn’t support their athletes. What was the reaction of the other
athletes at the event? We really received a whole
wave of support and solidarity. Everyone really tried to help
us wherever they could. A friend of mine from South Africa,
whom I met through sport shooting, immediately offered me his rifle
to shoot the competition with. Shooters from the Czech Republic,
Hungary and also Russia offered us their own gear to use during
the World Championship. Ultimately we made do with
this borrowed gear and were at least able to
actually compete in the event. So there was no unsupportive attitude
from any of the other athletes? Yeah, it proved once again
that such major events really serve to bring together people
from different countries and backgrounds. That was also the reason that no one
really understood why we’d be harassed like this and treated like
common criminals, although we just wanted to travel to
a sporting event and compete. How did you do with the borrowed
equipment? I came in 77th place, the second
best Austrian, the best Austrian came in 65th place, the next
best came in 80th out of 370 athletes that competed in
our class. And all of that on borrowed gear – so that was
really quite the achievement. Will you just “let this slide” or will there
be legal consequences for those responsible? No, we will, together with our attorney
who, on the day we left really tried to find a solution to this
problem and who ended up sending well over 60
emails to several contacts and really did his
utmost to try and turn this around and reach a
favorable outcome, exhaust every legal course of action available
and we’ll see what this EU directive actually says and
who will end up having been in the right and who will
have been in the wrong. We’ll also see how it could
come to pass that, on the one hand, everyone agrees that
we’re carrying sporting firearms and then on the other hand claim
that we would not be allowed to leave the country with
these military grade weapons. Who actually gave the order? This will certainly come to light
during the court proceedings. There’s also some insecurity for
Schwechat police department, who are actually responsible for
firearm checks at the airport. The officer in charge there had
not been informed at all, and didn’t know if there had even
been an order to handle our case differently. As things stand now, it seems that not
even a hunter could bring his guns to Russia. We were not allowed to take our
optics on the plane, because they said that those are “dual use”
capable, meaning they could be used for sport but also for other
military purposes, which of course applies to pretty much any
optic for any firearm. We’ll definitely keep following this story!
Thank you very much for the interview! I wanna thank you guys for giving
me the opportunity to reach a wider audience with
this topic through your channels.

4 thoughts on “Firearms United Austria Vlog – Interview mit Mario Kneringer (IPSC Austria) [+ ENGLISH SUBS]

  1. … das war im letzten Jahr und stellt sich die Frage, ob die kommenden WM s dann ohne Schikanen stattfinden können.??

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *