Today was one of the most fun days I’ve had in a LONG time. Today I did something I’ve wanted to do for a LONG time but have never had the chance. Sure, the opportunity has been around in the past but I would usually hear about it after it had ended. This weekend was the East Elgin Sportsmen’s Association annual open house. Today I finally got to shoot a gun. Each year they open their doors to the public as a fundraiser. For a mere $5 per person you get in and get access to shoot a wide variety of firearms from a .22 calibre handgun right up to some big guns. This year’s star ordinance was a Styer .50 calibre sniper rifle. If you were on the property, or walking down the road, you KNEW when someone fired off this bad boy. The boom reverberated throughout the entire area. The most awesome part is that once you pay the $5 you can shoot pretty much any gun you want – you just pay for the ammo. The only price that was reported was the $15/shot for the 50 cal so I didn’t really know what to expect. Depending on the ammo size prices ranged between $1 for 10 rounds up to $3 for 1 round and pretty much everything in between.
So what did we do? Well, Nikki & I struck out for Aylmer at about 11:30am. Getting there about 12:15 or so we paid our admission and just started walking. We found ourselves in line at the 100m range where a selection of shotguns and rifles were available. We chose a Smith & Wesson M&P 15 that looked pretty much exactly the picture here. I’m not sure of the exact ordinance size but the
S&W website tells me that it can use either 5.56mm NATO or .223 rounds. I know that it cost us 8 tickets for 20 rounds. The club member loaded the clip with five rounds and then inserted the clip. He then showed us how to get the gun ready for firing and how to turn the safety on and off. This is a semi automatic assault rifle which means that it will fire rounds as fast as you can squeeze the trigger. While it might have been fun to just rapidly fire off five rounds I didn’t really
want my money to get shot off quite so fast. I paused and aimed between each shot. Apparently I managed to hit one of the metal targets at the end once. Never having shot a real weapon before and the targets being ~100m away, I consider that to be pretty decent. What really surprised me was how little recoil there was from this gun. Below is a video of Nikki shooting the same weapon. If you look you’ll see the gun pull up a little bit after each shot. By comparison if you watch the guy to her left shoot the gun he has you’ll see that it seems to have a far more powerful recoil.
Nikki Shooting a S&W M&P 15
Unfortunately that was the only video we were able to get. After we had finished up at the 100m we got in line for the indoor range for some handgun fun. The lineup was long. We probably stood in line for about an hour. When we got inside they pulled noobs out of line and gave them a crash course on safe weapon handling and proper shooting stance. Fortunately we didn’t lose our place in line and we soon in. All first time shooters had to start with a .22 calibre. We could choose between revolver and semi-automatic. Those that know me would know that it’s pretty much a no-brainer and I wanted the semi-auto. Unfortunately I don’t know the exact brand and model of the unit I shot. Rounds for the .22 were 1 ticket for 5 rounds. I handed over 2 tickets and the instructor grabbed 10 rounds, the gun and the clip. What really surprised me about this gun were the size of the bullets. They looked like they would barely hurt if you were to actually get hit by one (not that I’m volunteering to try it). In the indoor range we were shooting at paper targets ahead of us. Unfortunately I was so caught up in the moment that I didn’t even pay attention to the approximate distance but I’m guessing about 20 feet but maybe it was more. I lined up the sight and shot off one round at a time, re-aligning my aim after each shot. There was practically no recoil on this particular gun. After my 10 rounds the instructor asked me if I wanted to switch to a different gun so I suggested a 9mm. He had selected one weapon but after conferring with another instructor put it back and picked up a CZ 9mm. Sadly I don’t have the exact model number – again, too caught up in the moment. At this point Nikki had entered the range and was a couple booths down. As he was loading up the first half of the 12 rounds I bought the guy beside her let off some rounds from some type of hand cannon that I felt through my entire body. They are NOT bullshitting when they say that hearing protection is mandatory whenever you are inside the range area. Even with full ear protection the shots were LOUD! I noticed that some of the instructors were actually wearing active noise cancelling ear protection. So the guy shows me how the 9mm works and I pick it up. Slowly drawing the trigger back the first round fires. Because of the way he had it set the draw was longer for the first shot than the remaining shots. Again I took a pause between each shot to aim. Again, I was aiming (obviously) for the bullseye. The 12 rounds went quickly and he brought the target in to the booth to hand to me. Looking at it I think that perhaps the sighting was a bit off on the .22 as I had them grouped fairly close together but up and to the left of the bullseye a couple inches. The 9mm rounds were all centered around the bullseye area and I managed to put 3 rounds in almost exactly the same place. Lesson here: if you’re coming at me and I’m holding a .22 you’re probably pretty safe (although you’re probably pretty safe if I’m packing a .22 anyway – even if I manage to pull off a direct hit), but if I’m holding a 9mm you’re better off turning around and running away. 😉
In all, it was an absolute blast and I cannot wait to do it again. Once my schedule is something a little less hectic (read: after graduation) I am definitely considering a membership there. Shooting is addictive. Oh, and as a bonus I can cross one thing off my bucket list!