The special operations members had no experience to follow, since they were the first Chinese team to participate in the event. In the face of difficulty, Li Huaiyi, a civilian "fast shooter" was invited to provide instruction.
Li had been fancy about shooting since childhood, but failed to join the army for some reasons. From 2015 to 2018, he went abroad for shooting skills training and fired about 100,000 rounds of ammunition during the period. In 2019, a team led by Li won 9 awards in the IDPA World Championship, and after that, he himself became the first Chinese referee in the highest-level competition of the event.
Although Li had participated in multiple shooting competitions abroad and won various awards, he still felt nervous and stressed for this new job, since it was a matter of the honor of Chinese service members.
Among all the unfavorable factors, first of all, it was pressed for time. "I felt nervous about how to help my students catch up with others who had professional training experience for five, six or even 20 years within merely half a year," Li said.
Secondly, the challenges were significant. The original competition system targeted accuracy, so the practice usually focused on the number of rings scored. The new form of competition has also attached great importance to speed and tactical planning in addition to accuracy. "It is a very difficult process to change your original training habits and re-establish a muscle memory."," he said.
In addition to these, the intensive training adopted a whole-process elimination system, so the team members were under great mental pressure.
"However, the Chinese soldiers have the strongest willpower, discipline and mental quality. They have made great efforts in training, which is unbearable for ordinary people. Their efforts and strong willpower have always been the reasons why I have admired the Chinese armed forces and dreamed about joining them," Li said.
Finally, the PLA participating team achieved good results with Li’s help.
The Tactical Shooter Competition of the IAG 2021 was held in Russia with a total of 17 teams involved. The Chinese team won second place in the competition. One year later, they won the second place as a group in the Tactical Shooter Competition of the IAG 2022 held in Kazakhstan.
Recalling the experience, Li said frankly, "I have never expected to be invited to work as a coach in a military unit where only the best soldiers qualify for."
His affinity with the military has not been limited to this. The veterans have accounted for 80% of the civilian practical shooting coach team set up by Li.
"Although I am not a service member, I am very proud to make my share of contributions to the cause of national defense. I also hope that more veterans can impart their military skills acquired during service to more young people and improve their national defense awareness," Li said.