Riga, Latvia: Riga's a Blast - Firing Kalashnikovs at Riga Shooting Range

Rīga, Latvia

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, yet just as exhilarating as the ballet (but with more bang for your buck) - Riga Shooting RangeAs you may 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 I heard about a shooting range in Riga that offered assault rifles and combat shotguns I signed up for an afternoon of explosive fun. Suffice to say, I had a blast. 

I didn't know what to expect about Riga Shooting Range. Going from the macho design of their website, taglines boasting 'The Unforgettable Experience' and 'Feel The Power of Combat Shotgun', and the secrecy surrounding their exact location (I was to be picked up from the 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 shooting range was in a high-security underground bunker where the local police also train. The staff were absolutely professional and put me completely at ease with their hospitality and laid-back nature, and my 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 I understood how to safely use the many firearms I handled, and were not pushy at all - I took my time to shoot at my leisure and afterward there was no shoo-ing us out of the range, I was invited to try on military uniforms and pose with weapons of our choice for photos. Riga Shooting Range were also very flexible, letting me choose to fire a Magnum instead of a Glock and when I changed my mind, they let me to upgrade from my Standard Package to include two extra guns of my choice. 

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.

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

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!

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

...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).


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