One of the things that I guess I always wanted to do was firing some guns on a shooting range. Except that I didn’t know I had wanted to do it, untill I had done it, makes sense? Haa, my logic, sometimes, it’s weird.
Either way, last spring me and my dear old dad visited Riga. We booked cheap tickets for the end of March, as we thought, aaah well, by that time it’s spring. Well guess again! It was -8 during the day and cooled off to a -14 at night, caaaramba. Luckily we were (sort of) prepared with lots of layers. Riga was a pleasant surprise. Also ’cause I hadn’t travelled with my dad in a while, and we can be two peas in a pot, so it’s really easy to explore new places together.
He had booked an ‘excursion’ to a shooting range for us. Normally we don’t pre-book anything at all. We’re the endless walking type of tourists, which can make others in our family (hi mom!) go nuts, but when it’s the two of us we’ll walk for 13 hours. Two peas in a pot. My dad can be very laidback at times, but he always wants to do fun, crazy and controversial things in life. He’s always on the clock and sees every day and every year as a bonus. ‘You only have the one life, better make the best of it’. And he had always wanted to shoot some guns so made arrangements in Riga. When I heard about it I went absolutely ballistic. How cool! Don’t get me wrong, I do not support owning guns whatsoever, but the thought of shooting one of those bastards for a day seemed pretty rad. And scary!
So one afternoon this typical eastern European guy picked us up from the hotel. He offered a beautiful walk through the city towards the bunker, which we sort of rudely declined, but we were just so amped and nervous about the whole thing. ‘Just get us to the bunker, sir’
When I was in Vegas, I had been to shooting ranges and saw people picking their gun of preference and accompanied bullets. It’s exactly like in the movies or series. Security that’s way over the top and all sort of safety and responsibility wavers that you need to sign. The range itself is all safe, with walls in between the boots, proper protection and so on, how it should be. So in a way that was my expected image when I heard I was gonna shoot some guns in Latvia. Boy was I wrong.
We arrived at the bunker we couldn’t believe what we saw. It literally was an old war bunker, so down into the steel walkway we went, through those old heavy submarine-boat like doors and into the range. It was just so priceless. The whole shop was put together with black rubber boards and old wooden tables which stored the guns and bullets. Old posters with that certain Eastern pizazz showing bikini babes holding Kalashnikov and revolvers. Old cracked leathers chairs and a lonely burning cigarette in a dispenser somewhere. We stepped back into time. There was this old, gray and cranky fatty behind the counter only speaking Latvian and grunting at his employee (our guide) while pointing at us. If there was ever a robbery, I guess he was all the security they needed. There was no weaver (or at least that I remember of) that we needed to sign, he only wanted to see our passports and to write down our names and dates of birth. Then it was time for explanations.
It all happened so fast. I only heard ‘Bla di bla di bah’. I was still in awe of the whole underground shop while our gun-captain was already telling us about stance, positions and what type of guns we’d fire. We stepped into this cement room covered by old rubber, which is supposed to reduce sounds. I saw a back wall with some A2 paper James Bond look-a-likes and before I knew it, my dad was already holding a revolver.
KABANG KABANG KABANG. He was like a kid in a candy shop. After he fired a certain kind of gun, it was always my turn. My god, was my heart pounding! Firing a gun?! A real gun?! With a real bullet in it?! No wonder the gun-captain was extra attentive of me with me being all squeaky and extremely high-pitch voiced. Imagine this; you really do hold a gun, an actual loaded gun (I still can’t wrap me head around it) and one wrong move and you can harm yourself or the others around you. So, the captain remained in very close proximity to me, explaining me how to hold the gun and correcting my grip on the revolver. So after all the stalling, reality hit me I had to shoot. ‘Just pull the trigger right here’….. ‘Just pull it’… ‘No, don’t move, keep your arm straight and just pull it’…
Did I tell you my heart was pounding?
Kabang. (mine weren’t as tough as my dad’s). Even though I sort of stroked the trigger, the result was the same.
Gunfire shots are extremely loud (duh!) and the weapon gives this strange pullback on your hand, but oh my god, what a feeling! Especially if you’re this nervous geek like me. But in a way it’s very empowering. I know how WRONG this sounds, and I don’t mean to provoke anything with it, but you just feel so powerful and in control. I now understand why you need training for it, but I also understand why little kids in Africa wave around with it. Pulling a trigger is so easy. Putting a bullet in a wall, or quite possibly a person happens in the flash of a second. There’s really nothing more to it than unlocking your safety and pulling the trigger.
We got several bullets for a total of three guns and each gun was the same feeling all over again. Holding an old AK47 was a new dimension in itself, the thing is just very bulky and unpractical. You need to position your whole body around it, and place it on your shoulder. Must admit that the blowback is quite intense.
All in all it was a really strange, but also fun experience. Normal girls bake cake for their dads for some bondingtime, we like to fire some guns. The fact that it was in this old, run-down, shabby bunker was just the cherry on top. Neither of us will ever do it again, but one of the ‘bucket-list’ things can be crossed off.
Have you ever fired some ammo? For both yes or no, how do you feel about it? And what are things on your bucketlist?