I’ve always imagined what it would be like to shoot someone. Not in a psychopathic way, just in a I’m-a-badass-hero-saving-the-day way. I conjure up dramatic scenarios in my head where someone horrible might be trying to harm my family or rape my dogs. I’ll be standing there telling them to ‘back the fuck up’, and when they don’t – bang, bang, dead. Naughty baddy.
However – after having now shot a real firearm – I realise that if I were ever in a defensive situation as such, I’d almost certainly put the dogs down by accident.
I’ve just been in Vilnius, Lithuania – a place which seems to be a hot spot for shooting guns and shiz. Funnily enough, a recent Eurobarometer has suggested that Lithuanians mostly purchase guns for self defence; so I guess to keep their dogs alive they need plenty of places to practice.
No one from my hostel was even mildly interested in accompanying me to the range. Why not? I didn’t wonder at all. They’re crazy for not wanting to dance with loud aggressive danger, thought me never.
I had to walk through some pretty 1985-looking streets to get there. I ventured outside the comfort of the old town and into a pretty empty area. At one point it was just me and a guy in a trench coat walking towards each other down a lonely back alley. You can imagine the relief I felt when I came to the gates, I side stepped in while he went on to visit children’s nightmares.
So you know how sometimes when you drop your car off at the mechanics you have to go into the creepy office to find them and hand your keys over? And when no one is around you’re there calling out ‘yoohoo, only me…” like Irene from Home and Away? Well stepping into this gun place was like that.
The office was cold and eerie and I imagined someone might emerge with a chainsaw at any moment. The walls were dirty and the air greasy. Through the dusty glass on one side I could see a man in the shooting area stacked with car tyres and other shootable junk. Through the dusty glass on the other side I could make out a man sitting at a desk drinking coffee.
“Hello!” I said cheerfully poking my head through the door. He said nothing. “Um, I’d like to shoot a gun, please?”
The spectacularly serious Lithuanian man sat there and stared at me like I’d just bumped into him in the prison cafeteria. God, is he about to bust a cap in my ass? I could have made him a sandwich in the time I had with the awkward silence.
I continued to beam at him through the door.
“What kind?” he eventually asked in a strong Lithuanian accent.
Hmmm, let me just look at the list of gun names I store in my mind. “Any?”
“OK” he responded and continued to sip his coffee and not say a word. Could have been a tea.
I wasn’t really sure where to go from here because I wasn’t even sure if we’d communicated properly. I decided to retreat backwards into the little waiting room with the chairs and tables and piles of cardboard. I sat there for a short while wondering why he hated me so badly and contemplated leaving, but my thoughts were interrupted by another “OK”, and he beckoned me through.
I was given the pick of three big semi-automatic guns and I chose the AK-47 for no particular reason. I took five shots on that one, hitting my target in the hip once and shooting my dogs and family with the rest. Then I requested a go on a smaller one because, when in Rome, and I chose the Glock.
AK-47 on the right
As expected I sucked at that one too. Every time I lined up my shot he had to show me where to put my hands again. Then my glasses started fogging up and I had to keep stopping to wipe them. I felt like a hard-ass Librarian loser with a gun, and it was very confusing.
When I decided I’d had enough he convinced me to have five more shots, not because he wanted me to spend more on bullets but because he wanted me to actually hit the target. So I agreed to five more, and voilà! – shot that paper-faced punk right in the cranium.
Keeping in mind that I pretty much shot at point blank and was heavily assisted by my Lithuanian friend.
The Lithuanian friend who ended up being super nice might I add!
I generally find that Eastern Europeans don’t feel the same obligation to be overly friendly to strangers like us Westerners do. It’s a cultural thing. So when I’d come in earlier as a bumbling, excitable Australian mess, I’m pretty sure he would have been equally as intimidated. Probably thought I was about to bust a cap on him too.
There are plenty of places to get your gun on in Lithuania, but because I went to this one you have to too. That’s how recommendations work. It’s called PI Shooting Sports Club GSKA and this is the website www.saudymoklubas.lt.
A choice of guns, an instructor + 15 bullets cost me 75 Lithuanian Litas (or 17 Great British Pounds or 31 Australian Dollars).