The Las Vegas Gun Range And Firearms Center is located right on the outskirts of the city, well off of the strip and out of range of almost all tourist activity. To get there, you have to take a cab, watching out the window as the hotels quickly zip out of view and the residential portion of Vegas, which seems to consist of nothing but townhouses and large, empty parking lots, comes sharply into focus. This is the part of town that houses all the dealers, all the waiters, and everyone else who makes a living in town by taking your money. And the Firearms Center is where they go if they feel the need to have deadly force available to them at a moment’s notice.
I left my beer can in the car when we pulled up. It was my fifth or sixth of the day.
There were 10 of us in the bachelor party. So instead of taking a normal cab to the gun range, we all paid $60 to pile into an enormous stretch limo that was powered exclusively on biodiesel fuel. I was a bit scared we might run out of Mazola on the way. So here we were, a bunch of cityfolk, some with long hair, pulling into a gun club in a limo designed to save the planet. Not the best first impression to make.
The driver told us the gun club was fairly new, having only opened within the past year. But it looked like it had been there forever. The first thing I saw when we walked in was a table that showcased three long-range sniper rifles. All of them gave you the ability to blow a man in half from well over a 1,000 feet away. Next to the rifles were the armor piercing bullets they used. Each one was roughly the size of a Coke bottle. As a demonstration of the rifles' efficiency, a one-inch thick piece of steel scrap with a giant bullet hole going through it had been placed on the table. It's the orange thing in the picture below. I could have put a banana through the hole. I wouldn't fight in any sort of Colombian rebel army if I were you.
We were not allowed to touch the sniper rifles. But we were allowed to touch the thousand or so other guns lying around the place.
My experience with guns, up until this point, had been fairly limited. The only gun I had fired previously was a .22 caliber rifle when I went to Camp Deerhorn in lovely Rhinelander, Wisconsin. We were only allowed to shoot while lying on the ground. If we got good, we were given a red star and allowed to shoot from our knees. If we mastered shooting from the knees, we got a blue star and were allowed to shoot while standing. If we mastered shooting while standing, we got a gold star.
I never even got my got my red star. But I didn’t have to go through all that bullshit at the Las Vegas Gun Range. That shit is for fags. All I needed was $115 and I got Package #6.
With Package #6, you get to shoot a full magazine from four separate machine guns: An Uzi, a Tommy Gun, a M16 (the one they used in “Heat”), and a Mac 10. You also get to shoot two rounds from an Israeli Desert Eagle, which may very well be the deadliest handgun in the world.
Fuck and yes.
While we waited for the range to open, we checked out some of the gun accessories around the store. You could get, of course, customized targets to shoot at. Osama was a popular one. I'm sure there was a Rosie O'Donnell one stashed somewhere in the back. But there were others as well.
I’m almost certain the photos taken for the “hostage” series of customized targets were not photoshopped. They really had to pose Ron Jeremy digging a gun barrel into the side of little junior’s head there. Suck it up, kid. You wouldn’t be that position if you had had a Desert Eagle of your own. The one with the guy protecting his nuts was billed as the “Ladies Choice” target, though I wondered why the Bullseye was on the guy’s chest and not his little clay pigeon.
Our instructor for the day was a man named Ed (not his real name). He couldn’t have been more than 22 or 23 years old. When we walked in, Ed was boasting to one of the other employees about his ability to load a magazine quickly. He then told one of the employees he would strangle him to death with his own intestines. He was joking, of course. It didn’t make us any less uncomfortable. I’m quite sure he could smell the liberalism on us.
Ed brought us all into the range.
“Have any of you fired a machine gun before?”
About two of us raised our hands. I did not.
“It’s okay. I don’t mind. As long as you aren’t Muslim.”
None of us were Muslim. Phew!
“You are going to be handed a fully loaded machine gun. Keep the barrel of your gun pointed down range at ALL times. For the MAC 10, NEVER let up on the trigger. This gun is designed to fire the entire magazine. If you let go of the trigger, it’ll raise up on ya. A lot of places will not let you fire an entire magazine, but if you want to empty your clip and fuck some shit up, that is AWESOME.”
He wasn’t lying. They broke us up into two groups of five at the range. We all put on your safety glasses and headsets. I have never been around live machine gun fire before. When the first shots started to blaze, I almost shit my pants and wet myself simultaneously. Shell casings started flying out the side of the guns and bouncing off the partitions. Any buzz I had from the beer vaporized and was replaced with an astonishing sense of awareness. I have never paid such close attention to anything in my life. Not even my own penis.
The first gun I was handed was the Uzi. Because it was the first gun I used, I didn’t get a chance to fully appreciate it. One squeeze of the trigger and the magazine was gone in about a nanosecond. Same with the Mac 10. If I ever get shot to death, I want it to be from one of those two guns. At close range. I don’t want to have any time to process my own death. I managed to hit the target, but that was largely a happy accident.
Then I got the Tommy Gun, which allowed me to fire in short bursts. That gave me a little more time to savor the hot deadly action, and to take in the bouquet of the gun itself. I noticed that each gun had its own distinctive smell when it fired. And the Tommy Gun was a damn fine smelling gun. The last gun I got was the M16. I really wanted my toddler with me so I could pretend to use her as a human shield while I fired it, Tom Sizemore-style. No dice.
I reeled my target back in. Yup, that guy would have been fucking dead.
For the grand finale, we were escorted one by one into the booth to fire two rounds of the Desert Eagle. It was a .50 caliber. “It shoots through schools.” I was surprised it didn't transform back into Megatron after a few minutes. One guy in the party asked what the exit wound diameter of the Desert Eagle was. The answer was 15 inches. In other words, if you shoot a jackrabbit with it, no more jackrabbit.
The machine guns were loud. The Desert Eagle sounded like the final shot of Armageddon. If you shoot this gun without ear protection, your ears will fucking die. I’m not even sure it should be called a gun, because that doesn’t do it justice. It’s more like a very small bazooka. Even when I knew another shot was coming, I still jumped like a fucking girl whenever one of us fired it.
My turn was up. I was instructed to keep my arms locked and my feet parallel, a bit wider than shoulder-width apart (This is called the Icocseles Stance, or the "For Your Eyes Only" Stance). I was reminded not to grip the gun in such a way that my thumb would be placed right under the hammer and get torn off. It was surprisingly easy to let my thumb slide there. I had to concentrate really hard. I was also told to let the gun go up after firing, so that the recoil would not cause the gun to pistol-whip me on its own. One of my friends got a shell casing to the forehead after firing it that was ejected with such force that it drew blood. We were all jealous, because that would have been an awesome scar to have. “Yup, that was the ol’ Desert Eagle. She was feelin’ frisky that day, my friends.”
I’m not even sure my eyes were open when I fired the gun. BOOM! Miraculously, there was a hole in the orange area of the target.
“The gun didn’t stick on you," Ed said. "Nice job.”
I fucking rule. One more shot. BOOM! Another hole. I ended up the second best shooter in the group. I almost won a free hat. DO NOT FUCK WITH ME. Right, Ed?
“We had an Asian girl in here in heels last week. Couldn’t have been more than 100 pounds. And she fired that gun better’n ALL you clowns. And she may have been drunker!”
So what did I learn in my time at the gun club? A few things:
-Anyone who bitches about gun control needs to go fire a gun sometime. Because guns are fucking cool as shit.
-I have spent the first 31 years of my life being a total fucking pussy. I’m basically a woman who happens to have a penis. All this time I've been doing things like starting a family and putting together a decent career. What a waste! I could have been fucking shit up the whole time.
-The Desert Eagle has absolutely no use as a practical weapon. If someone breaks into your home at night, and you have to bust out the Eagle to do some regulating, in the dark, against a moving target, with no ear protection, you will not only fail, you will also likely lose your thumb. And hearing. And LCD television.
-I could take down a liquor store if I really wanted to. But not a bank.
-One of my friends asked what they used for backing on the range to withstand the onslaught and prevent ricochets. Turns out it's made out of bulletproof steel set at an angle, so that the smoking hot slugs skip up into a tunnel and are deposited into a recycling container. That blew apart my theory that it was made out of Bounty paper towels.
-I’m sure Ed went home to his wife that night and said, “Honey, I just saw 10 of the biggest faggots in my life today.”
-No Hillary donors in that store.
-This was my first real gun experience, but I'll be sure from now on to act like I know EVERYTHING about guns: sneering at John Woo fight scenes, chastising criminals on the news for not using their guns safely, etc. As far as I'm concerned, I'm a goddamn expert now.
-The gun club has its tourist value, but there were plenty of folks there who were on the range specifically for training purposes. One woman was there with her boyfriend. He was teaching her to use a very small gun in a throwdown situation. I was happy I was not staying in Vegas for a very long period of time.
A taxi carrying a group of drunken retards that was extremely similar to our group pulled up just as we were leaving. Apparently, I am just another round in the clip, another one of the endless parade of jackass amateurs parading through Vegas’ living tribute to the Second Amendment. It makes you a little bit smaller, a little more insignificant.
Which, not by coincidence, a MAC 10 will do to you as well.