Riga's a Blast: Firing Kalashnikovs at Riga Shooting Range

January 28, 2015

My posts on Riga so far have been postcard-pretty photos of candy-coloured Art Nouveau buildings, luxuries like Gallery Park Hotel Riga, and the wintry beauty of snowy landscapes - so far, so lovely. Today's blog post is about an attraction that is more rugged and rough around the edges but by no means only for men and is just as exhilarating as the ballet (but with more bang for your buck) - Riga Shooting Range.

The shooting range was Henry's idea. Henry's fascination for shooting all started when his Regimental Sergeant Major father bought Henry a air pistol for his 7th birthday when they were staying at his grandparents' country home in the Scottish Highlands. Henry's love and respect for the sport developed partly from his family's military background and Henry's own military training, and from Henry's travels to parts of the world where guns are very much part of the culture (you can see more of Henry's adventures on his Instagram - @regi_mental). Ever since, Henry has been shooting whenever and wherever he gets the chance but as most Englishmen know, apart from countryside sojourns and lengthy bureaucratic nightmares shooting opportunities in the UK are few and far between. And one most certainly does get the chance to fire a Kalashnikov in a shooting club in England let alone on one's estate! So when Henry heard about a shooting range in Riga that offered assault rifles and combat shotguns he signed us up for an afternoon of explosive fun. Suffice to say, we had a blast. 

Henry and I didn't know what to expect about Riga Shooting Range. Going from the masculine design of their website, taglines boasting 'The Unforgettable Experience' and 'Feel The Power of Combat Shotgun', and the secrecy surrounding their exact location (we were to be picked up from our hotel and driven there, for security reasons, no doubt) I half-expected intimidating, suspicious Soviet-type shady characters with black market cigars dangling from their beefy lips barking orders at a cowering me while I struggled with surplus war weapons in a underground bunker. The only part that was accurate was the underground location. The staff were absolutely professional and put us completely at ease with their hospitality and laid-back nature, and our firing instructor had the patience of a saint - even when I stumbled backwards from the recoil of a combat shotgun and pointed it at my foot, he merely caught my back and swiftly pushed the gun toward the target so as to save me losing several toes. Everything about the experience was pleasant, from the way Riga Shooting Range picked us up promptly at our hotel, explained the guns and safety techniques thoroughly to make sure we understood how to safely use the many firearms we handled, and were not pushy at all - we took our time to shoot at our leisure and afterward there was no shoo-ing us out of the range, we were invited to try on military uniforms and pose with weapons of our choice for photos. Riga Shooting Range were also very flexible, letting him choose to fire a Magnum instead of a Glock and when Henry changed his mind, they allowed him to upgrade from his Standard Package to include two extra guns of his choice. 

The shooting range was in a high-security underground bunker where the local police also train.

A Sig Sauer SP 2009, as seen in movies The Bourne Identity, Outlaw, Paul, The Lookout. The Riga Shooting Range website lists the guns in their arsenal along with specifications and movies they've featured in.

Henry booked the Standard Package for us (five shots each from four guns: Glock-17, Makarov PM, AK-103 - the cousin of the AK-47, and Winchester 1300) and he upgraded to include the SPAS-15 and a Magnum.

Henry firing the Magnum (above) and the Winchester shotgun (below).

The shotgun I struggled with - I could barely hold up the Winchester and my arms were so strained from the weight that I kept letting the gun swing downward, pointing at my feet. With every shot, the recoil send me falling backwards that my instructor had to prop me upwards and swing the barrel away from my feet to point it safely toward the target. I was a mean shot with the Glock though - my aim was accurate and my stance was confident. Each shot I fired was sure, steady, and dare I say it - sexy.

The Winchester shells, larger than my lipsticks. They make regular bullets look practically puny.

The AK-103 and the Winchester shotgun. For someone who could barely hold up a shotgun I was more than a decent shot with the AK!

Henry, however, was deadly sexy with the big guns.

Behold his handsomeness, firing a SPAS-15 like it's the most natural thing in the world. 

Examining our targets, which we were free to take home as souvenirs but forgot to.

I nailed my target in the head, heart, and...armpit. 

Unlike the extremely politically correct shooting targets in England (bulls eyes and the like) we got to chose from a variety of characters including James Bond which Henry refused to fire at: "He's English and so am I! He's a national hero, I can't shoot him!" The instructor: "James Bond is a fictional character!" Henry: "Yeah, that's what he wants you to believe!"

Henry's target...

...shot in the groin. "That's a little below the belt, isn't it darling?"

Just your standard firing range decor. There were much more, um, sensual posters of lovely ladies but I just couldn't bring myself to photograph any of them. No doubt those posters are there to appeal to the clientele who come to European firing ranges as stag do groups, but the shooting range was not at all overly masculine so as to alienate or intimidate women - there were young ladies at the shooting range, as lovely and youthful as they come, and all treated with the same respect as any man or policeman or policewoman. 

Some of the firearms available at Riga Shooting Range, and the packages available, taken from their website. 

If you're planning a trip to Riga I do recommend adding Riga Shooting Range to your itinerary. The staff are absolutely professional, laid back, flexible, will make you feel comfortable and welcome, and have props for photo opportunities after so you can show everyone what a banging good time you had (and they also have a resident sausage dog you can pet)! x


  1. your life is so awesome :) been following your blog and instagram for quite some times. great post :) have a nice day

  2. I'm a huge fan of the Glock and dare I say it, pretty damn good too! Although, I totally agree about the shot guns/AK's. I struggle to hold them and find the angle completely ridiculous to be able to shoot at. The weight of the gun combined with where the target line of fire is just doesn't work for me!

    Katie <3

    1. I KNOW RIGHT. Shot guns are a NIGHTMARE. The AKs are actually very manageable but nothing beats the Glock! x