Bucket List #60: Fire a Gun

My thoughts on guns are massively contradictory.

Born in the UK, my experience with guns is limited and I remember being terrified after the Dunblane shooting and relieved that our government brought in stricter gun laws. Similarly, I view the US’ gun situation as being crazy and dangerous.

However, I’m also part of a society where guns and gunplay are a massive part of popular culture. I grew up watching Westerns, action movies and reading comics like The Punisher, where guns are frequently used and shown in a cool way. Think about lobby scene in The Matrix, or the bullet ballet of John Woo movies and you’ll see what I mean.

In real life the only time I’d ever seen guns were when they were attached to soldiers or police officers. And even those are rare sightings.

But I wanted to live out my action hero fantasies, and I wanted to see what it’s like to use a machine built expressly to kill. And so, firing a gun went on the bucket list.

And so, in Florida, I got the opportunity and went to Machine Gun America, a gun range which seems to cater to the tourists who visit the Orlando area. Upon arrival I signed up for the fire three option and selected my guns:

  • An uzi- because I know what one is and they’re used in several action movies
  • A gun named L’il Ass Kicker- which WoM picked
  • An AK-47- probably the most famous gun in the world

guns

I waited for my range officer to come walk me through and started to feel a bit nervous. I was about to hold something which through misuse or mistake could easily kill me or those around me. I can be clumsy at times and fears of accidentally shooting myself in the foot or losing control of the gun filled my head.

Steve, my minder for the experience, was a pretty chilled guy, talked me through the safety points and told me everything was gonna be cool. Then we entered onto the range and he got my guns and ammo. I would get 25 rounds for each gun.

First up was the Uzi, and it was surprisingly light in my hand. I used up most of my rounds in the first burst, but managed to control it into a few shorter bursts of fire.

It felt weird, there was less kick than I anticipated, and it felt extremely easy. A small squeeze of my finger and I could unleash hell.

L’il Ass Kicker was a different beast. Even through ear protectors it was louder and there was an impressive muzzle flare when I fired. It kicked a little bit more, but was easy enough to control and it did give me a bit of a buzz to shoot it. I can see why folks like guns, it makes you feel powerful and I imagine trying to get better and more accurate could become addictive.

Last up was the AK-47, which was louder again and felt even more powerful. I kept my bursts short and like with the others hit the target with the majority of my shots, even if my grouping wasn’t the best.

I can’t deny that I didn’t enjoy the experience, like I said, there was an odd sense of power and a definite buzz from firing the weapons. There was a thrill in doing something which had the potential to be extremely dangerous. And a definite buzz out of being in charge and in control of that danger, of wielding that kind of power.

At the same time, the ease of it all was terrifying. One simple finger movement and you were blasting away. In a few minutes you could send 25 bullets flying out, each potentially lethal. It’s the kind of thing you could easily do by mistake, or too quickly in a state of fear or rage.

I enjoyed my experience, and the folks at Machine Gun America were great. Their place felt safe and the help I got was fantastic.

But I’m still glad that guns are extremely rare here, because it just taught me how powerful these dangerous machines are and exactly how easy they are to use.

Any thoughts? You know what to do. BETEO.

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