At the request of my travelling companion and mate (John), during this trip I visited a gun club in the city of Brno in the Czech Republic. The club only opens at 5pm so we first went for some steak and beer (of which I was beginning to finally get a taste for) beforehand. The Starobrno beer is recommended, and the restaurants in Brno are much cheaper than those in Prague. Anyway, we waited outside the door which seems to be located in the basement of another building. There were a couple of Czech guys there too. I had no idea how much it was going to be, nor if they spoke English or even would let us shoot. I hoped my 300 or so words of Czech would be enough to get by as it was in the restaurant. So, they guy opens the door and lets us all in without a word. Then he locks the door behind us. We go down a corridor to another locked door. This is opened, we pass through and again it is locked behind us. it seems like this happens many times, which is quite alarming. Eventually we end up in a room which looks a lot like a bar, not knowing what might happen. Another guy greets us there and to great relief and suprise, he speaks fluent English. I tried some of my Czech on him anyway just so he didn't think I was some totally brainless tourist. The requirements for being allowed to shot are only based around age and having the correct ID with you either in the form of identity card, Passport or driving licence. Don't forget to take one of these if you go. After passing this, we are taken into a gun storage room. This explains all the locked doors are there is a wide selection of pistols all neatly laid out on tables for us to handle and examine. Each pistol lies next to it's manufacturer's box and the guy explains to us both what each pistol is along with it's good and bad points. There was so much choice that I decided upon the heavy pistol used by the Czech police force. This gun was also manufactured in the Czech republic, which has a long history of arms manufacture. John asked the guy if they had a Glock, as we'd not seen one in the collection. The guy went away and came shortly came back brandishing a Glock. The Glock is a very light pistol, the opposite to the one I had chosen. We go back the bar with our guns and are given head phones. A split second before I get them on my head the door to the firing range is opened and there an unbelieveable bang from one of the guns being already used there. I got the headphones in record time after that.
The firing range has something like space for 4 or 5 shooters at any one time. The far booth was occupied by the source of the bang, some guy who must've taken his own gun in to the place, a regular member. We never really got a proper look at either him or his pistol but he seemed to have something a hell of a lot louder and more powerful than anything we'd seen. We each were given some bullets, about 50 I think, and a target. The same English speaking instructor showed us how to use the target-distance system and explained all the safety rules and how to pick up, load and fire the guns. Safety is paramount here and he was always hovering around to keep an eye on this. Good thing, these were real guns and real bullets. Now this is a big deal to me. I'd never even been near anything more that a pellet gun before, let alone held one or fired one. Whilst I'm not an advocate of having guns in society, I'm certainly not going to turn down the experience of firing one in a safe environment.
I started with the target in the closest position and blasted away at that for a while. The gun is not only damn loud but has a hell of a kickback on it too. Aiming on a close target is not too tricky but all that stuff they do in the movies, like either holding the gun sideways (any Tarantino movie) or holding the pistol high up (Brad Pitt at the end of "Se7en") is just not going to work. You need to be looking down the barrel of the gun to have a decent chance of hitting the area you want. My efforts met with a reasonable amount of success. The instructor said I was doing well considering I'd never shot a pistol before. I found a harder part was loading the individual bullets into the gun. I had loaded more than 20 before I really got the hang of it, positioning your fingers correctly to slide in the bullet. John commented that the kickback on the Glock was immense as the pistol was so light, resulting in it being more difficult to aim.
Each booth is shielded from the next by a piece of plywood, and this not only provides some privacy but give the spent cartridges ejected from the gun something to bounce off before they hit the floor and rolled through the grille into the under floor bin.
When we'd done, we returned to the bar. At this point I still had little idea how much this was all likely to cost us, especially being foreign tourists. As it turned out, is was an incredibly reasonable £10.45 each, and in addition we also got to keep our used targets (shown in the photo across the top of the page) and a key-ring with a bullet of the same type as we'd been using.
I would recommend this to anyone if they happened to find themselves in Brno and have any interest in the gun experience. The website of this Gun club is www.gunclub.cz although at the time of writing it is only in Czech with no English version. The Gunclub is a fair walk from the main town square, at least 30 minutes. If you are looking to find it on a map then the address is: Brno, Kotlárská 51a. tel.: 541 218 197, which is apparently just off Lidicka (steet). I give this information simply because so many people have emailed me asking for it. Let me know if you go there and it is still as good.
There are also a few gun shops located in Brno. They have a wide range of pistols, rifles, and other assorted weapons such as knives, throwing stars, knuckle dusters, pepper spray and such like. The Exacalibur city market (See Austria travel writing) also has swords and machetes.
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Copyright © M.F.Hughes 2006