Shooting submachine guns within city limits is just one more thing you can add to the “Things you can do legally in Vegas that are illegal most other places” list. Up until a couple of years ago, there was only one gun range in Las Vegas, but now there are several, as shooting a variety of high-powered guns has become the new hip thing to do off the Strip, particularly for tourists who come from countries where guns are very much controlled. As Darby Neagle, the co-owner of Guns and Ammo Garage, puts it, “People come here from Europe and they say, ‘I’ve got to go see the Grand Canyon and I’ve got to shoot a machine gun.’”
The different ranges have their own strengths, and I tried Guns and Ammo Garage because they specialize in working with first-timers; including bachelorette parties, 70-year-old women who are crossing “fire a machine gun” off their bucket list, and people like me -- somebody who has never owned a gun, never had much use for them, never hunted and has only fired them when shooting clay pigeons on a range or BB guns in scout camp.
At the Garage, they take care of you with an expert guide who works with you one-on-one to make sure you don’t hurt anyone, or in this case, hurt myself. The guide shows you exactly where to place every finger as you hold the gun.
As I shot the UZI, I was amazed at how little kickback there was. It’s surprisingly easy to shoot, and it’s astonishingly powerful how it feels when you are holding the trigger and bullet after bullet is flying out and the target in front of you is filling up with holes -- not right in the center, in my case, but still filling up with holes. It’s quick and over before you know it.
And the biggest surprise of all? I really enjoyed it. Without even realizing it, I was smiling and giddy and felt like I’d done something exciting. I’d love to do it again. I’m not going to go buy anything or get any permits or practice or anything like that, but I would definitely again go try it at a range.
I had pretty much the same reaction that Neagle told me just about every newbie does. “They come in with kind of a nervous look on their face,” he said, “but once they pull that trigger, they’re ecstatic.”
My goal here is not to argue for or against in the gun-control debates; I’ll leave that to Joe Biden and Wayne LaPierre. All I’m saying is that as someone with very little previous gun experience or love of guns, I sincerely enjoyed myself while shooting a submachine gun in the controlled and safe setting of a shooting range in Las Vegas.