Snapped is a companion piece to the hugely successful, "I turned away and she was gone"
Gun Fun Indoor Shooting Range in Cape Town
A fun way to relieve stress and try something new
I arrived at the Gun Fun indoor shooting range not knowing what to expect. I had shot guns before, but that was a long time ago, and it involved a Karoo fence post and a distant relative with long socks and farmer’s tan. Would Gun Fun be more of the same?
Hell no! I was immediately put at ease by the glamorous girls behind the counter, who I later learned are fully qualified gunwomen in their own right. High heels had replaced velskoen; kudu biltong on the back of a Hilux had given way to a cup of coffee in a white retro armchair.
Gun Fun is not only the sole indoor shooting range in Cape Town city centre, it’s also part of a growing global trend to make shooting accessible to people of all shapes, sizes and outlooks.The owners believe that shooting a gun doesn’t need to be a violent macho experience and they have pulled out all the stops to make the range as welcoming and unthreatening as possible.
It’s working too: during the hour and a half I spent there, I saw a guy from the Free State and his friend from the UK, a father and son enjoying an outing during the first week of the school holidays and a trio of German backpackers.
First up was a mandatory safety briefing. Ronald, our instructor, has 25 years of experience and served in the military and law enforcement before finally finding his niche as an educator. His manner was friendly and funny – but always firm – and I felt absolutely safe and secure under his watchful eye.
The briefing was interactive, and I appreciated the opportunity to practice handling unloaded guns in an unintimidating environment before the real shooting began. Throughout the presentation Ronald displayed a comic touch, but his parting words were deadly serious: “With guns there’s no such thing as an accident…only negligence.”
The main attraction
We collected our earmuffs and safety glasses and headed for the range. We would be experiencing the ‘Save the Rhino’ package where one has the unique experience of shooting an iconic AK-47 and a Glock 9mm pistol. The themed target featured a gun-toting poacher and a herd of rhinos: “If you hit a rhino,” Ronald warned us, “You must make a donation to the Save the Rhino fund, so shoot carefully.”
We took turns shooting the Glock, and I was impressed by Ronald’s ability to gauge each person’s needs. He gave more experienced shooters the time and space to figure things out for themselves, but with one particularly petrified member of our group he was attentive and sympathetic – almost motherly – and he was able to get her to not only hit the target with most of her shots, but more importantly, to enjoy doing so.
Ronald was a born teacher, and when my turn came I was so at ease that I may as well have been learning to roll a pizza base or cast a fly line. It showed in my shooting too: all of my shots hit the target, quite near the middle nogal!
Shooting the AK-47 was a lot easier than I had expected, and Gun Fun is one of the only places in the world where you can get to experience this adrenalin rush first-hand. In the process though, I discovered that the legendary firearm is yet another item which hasn’t been designed with left-handers in mind. Thoughtful Ronald made sure I held the gun with my right arm below the barrel to avoid being pinged by the metal cartridges.
The nitty gritty
After we’d been formally presented with our pockmarked targets, we had time to ask a few questions. Here’s what we found out:
- Gun Fun is open Monday to Saturday from 9am to 5pm and – by special arrangement – till 8pm on Thursdays.
- There are no restrictions for foreigners, but you have to be older than 12 to shoot.
- Booking is essential for larger groups.
For fun-seekers and tourists
- There are seven different packages, each of which offers a unique shooting experience and lasts about 1.5 hours.
- If you don’t want to purchase a whole package, it’s also possible to hire a gun (or guns) of your choice and pay for the ammo you use.
- Gun Fun is great option for bachelor parties and corporate functions.
- Absolutely no alcohol is allowed before or during the experience.
- A full range of curios, including the must-have ‘I shot an AK-47 in Africa’ T-shirt, is available.
For more serious shooters
- Gun Fun is affiliated to City Guns (the shop upstairs) and it does competency training for people who wish to apply for South African gun licences.
- You can become a member of the range and enjoy regular practice with your own firearms.
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