Thursday, August 15, 2013

Tried my hand at shooting guns

Guns are banned in Singapore. So naturally when I went to USA, there were four things on my mind (not necessarily in that order) shooting a gun, In-n-Out Burger, Alcatraz Island and Cheesecake Factory (or anything Big Bang Theory). 

I am not promoting violence per se (ok, I am a pretty violent person), but I really wanted to know how it'd feel to really shoot a gun or try hunting. Before we went for our trip, I started checking out the places that offered shooting in Las Vegas, because we were going to be there longest due to Bobo's work commitments. 

I found a few places that let you try shooting very scary guns, but they tend to be a tad too expensive and dubious-looking. So I was delighted to find out that Clark County (where Las Vegas is located, by the way) had a shooting complex, complete with shooting facilities and free orientation lessons by their experienced staff. I checked via email with them if foreigners could try shooting, and they said it was ok, just bring your ID along.

We wanted to drive out there Thursday night after collecting the rental car, but due to bad math, we mixed up the dates, we weren't able to go together. We could only get the car on Friday, and everyday Bobo had to work till at least 6pm, and the shooting was until 7pm most nights, except for Wednesday and Thursday nights.

So by the time Sunday (last day in Las Vegas) rolled around, Bobo still had to work till 4pm so I decided to go by myself, even though I wasn't exactly sure about the address. (1) I read on some websites that it was better to avoid other parts of Las Vegas other than the Strip, especially North Las Vegas, which coincidentally where the shooting complex was located (the northen most part~!). (2) I didn't really dare to go by myself.
The pistol and rifle complex is that little orange building, against an awesome backdrop
I summoned what little courage I had, and armed with that horrible Hertz Neverlost (it got me lost a lot of times during this trip), my printed Google maps and an abysmal data connection, I drove out to North Las Vegas. I predictably got lost, because the Hertz map ran out on the coordinates, and the area looked really lonely and wild beyond where the Neverlost brought me. The canyon loomed ahead.
Don't miss it! Past this main entrance, you still have to drive further into the canyon.
I thought the Neverlost was being dumb, and drove to a nearby shopping area, so that I could stop the car and pore over the map. I decided to try driving out into the canyon, and was rewarded for my daring.

I drove up to the highest point, which was where the rifle and pistol shooting located. They also had shotgun and archery further down the hill. Getting out the car, I took some quick photos, and flinched everytime I heard a loud crack. I figured even if I didn't dare to shoot, at least I managed to capture the experience.
There was a very friendly uncle and young lady chatting by the slope leading up to the nearest building (administration office). He turned to me and asked me if I was here to try shooting. I replied yeah!

He smiled a friendly welcome and pointed me to the door. "Go in and sign up."

So I went in, the people at the range are all very friendly folks, they really made me feel very welcome, and I had a super fun time there. I was advised to watch a short video on the simple rules they had for the complex (namely the obvious "point the gun downwards at the range"), which allowed me to collect a yellow card. I was told that with the yellow card, I would not have to watch the video again the next time. The rules were quite simple, 20 minutes of shooting, then 10 minutes of resting. During the resting time, no one can touch their shooting table where the guns lay, and everyone will go out and change/collect their shooting targets. Point the gun downwards at the range, and upwards after you leave the range.
Smith & Wesson pistol ok!
Then I was told to fill out a form and choose which shooting targets I wanted to buy. The man in charge asked me if I wanted to try a rifle or pistol. I asked him what is the difference in experience, and he told me that with the pistol, you could shoot multiple times at a go but it was harder, while with the rifle you have to keep reloading but it was easier to pick up.  The rental pistol and rifle used the same kind of bullets.
Form and card
I chose the rifle. Too bad I didn't have my own gun, so I had to rent the equipment. Thankfully, they let me swap out for the pistol later, without having to pay a separate rental fee. Aren't they great? I was quite eaten by jealousy when I saw what awesome guns the other people brought with them to the range.  
Setting up targets during cooling-off periods
Mr Mitch taught me how to load the rifle and later, the pistol. I tried shooting the rifle at 5 yards then 15 yards, then 17 yards. It definitely got harder to get bulls eye at 17 yards, especially since my arm got tired from holding and aiming the guns. 

I should have change to pistol earlier, because my arm became very tired to point and shoot properly. I tried shooting for 3 hours and changed several targets. The people in the office were super nice and equally excited with me that I was having such a great time at the range. Of course, because you have the great view of the canyon in the distance. It looks as if you are shooting into the canyon but actually you shoot into the sand banks in front. Phew phew!

As for the other people at the range, they were mostly families coming to spend a lazy Sunday afternoon shooting targets together or serious gunheads trying their really impressive looking guns (complete with binoculars, cool). There was a scary group of gangster-looking uncles at one end, but they left everyone alone. So it was all good.
Awesome gun 1
Super Awesome gun 2 (the sound from this gun made me JUMP)
The only bad experience I had was when this older man set up his two daughters at the shooting table next to mine, and every time they discharged their revolver, the bloody brass would ping me in the head because we were standing so close together.

If you are interested, 
Check out the Clark County shooting complex here with its shooting fees.
Mr Mitch explained that gunshells are expensive for other gun models, so most people buy the scrap brass so that they can make their own bullets. They can increase or reduce the amount of gunpowder accordingly, lesser for shooting range, more for hunting.

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