Just a few weeks ago, Khadija al Ameri had never held a gun, let alone fired one. But now, thanks to just three days' training, she's a shooting champion.
A shooting champion after three days
ABU DHABI // Clutching a 9mm handgun, wearing pink lip gloss, and posing for the camera, Khadija al Ameri said she felt like Angelina Jolie in her latest action film.
Ms al Ameri may not be a film star, but she is the champion of the Caracal Ladies Shooting Competition 2011, a feat she achieved against far more experienced sharpshooters - with only three days of training.
She hit the target better than 45 other women with years of training, including some who are police officers and others in the Army.
Yet before the competition this month, she had never even held a gun. She said she enjoyed posing for pictures at the gun range.
"I love taking photos a lot," she said. "So I was so excited holding a gun and trying to act like a movie star. I even used to ask my brother to come with me to take lots of photos, and my trainer used to get so mad about this, like, 'You are not taking this thing seriously! You're just playing with the gun and taking pictures of yourself thinking you're Angelina Jolie.'"
She added: "But I was so excited holding a real gun and shooting and imagining myself like I'm in some action movie."
She entered the competition on a whim.
Just 10 days before the contest, she went with her younger brother, Mohammed, to register him for training on rifles at the Armed Forces Officers Club and Hotel in Abu Dhabi.
The club's manager, Obeid al Mazrouei, and her soon-to-be trainer, Jamal al Ahmadi, saw her and convinced her to enter the gun range, too.
"I suggested to her why doesn't she join the ladies competition, but at the beginning she said, 'No, no, this is not my kind of sport'," Mr al Ahmadi said. "So I told her OK, today I will give you 10 free bullets to try this, and think about it. Next day, she came back."
Ms al Ameri trained for two intensive hours on each of the three days before the competition, shooting about 100 bullets a day.
She said that when she fired the gun, the shells sometimes hit her in the face, adding that "those shots are the ones that went straight in the middle of the goal".
The day after the competition earlier this month Mr al Ahmad and Mr al Mazrouei could not wait for the awards ceremony, which took place a week later, to deliver the good news. They called her and told her she had won.
"When they called me, I couldn't believe it," she said. "I was like, 'no way, you're lying. I'm sorry I'm sorry I don't mean you're lying, I mean you're kidding'. I mean there were women from the police and army competing with us."
Shooting is not the only sport that Ms al Ameri enjoys. She also does karate and boxing. "I'm a fighter," she said.
The 24-year-old Emirati, who was born and raised in Abu Dhabi, is also well-educated.
She completed her bachelor's degree at the Higher Colleges of Technology and Melbourne University, earning a dual degree in Teaching English as a Second Language.
For her master's degree, she completed International Law and Labour Relations studies at Sorbonne University in Paris.
She is a diplomat by profession.
"Thing is, I was actually travelling in three weeks and going to Tokyo because I'm a diplomat and I was assigned to work in the UAE Embassy in Tokyo," Ms Al Ameri said. "So I was telling them I don't promise you that I could do any training because I was busy with this whole new assignment in somewhere else."
Her rapid-fire success has provided her with much encouragement.
"This really made me think that everyone should try new stuff, because, you never know what you're good at until you try," she said. "I would've never have known if I'm good at this if they didn't convince me."