There’s certain things that only become a “normal day out” for people in the backpacking bubble. Things like jumping out of planes, cage diving with sharks, swimming in waterfalls…they all become part of your day to day routine whilst traveling the world.
One of the things on top of my list for Cambodia was something I’d heard alot about – shooting stuff in Siem Reap!
Now there’s the fabled whisper of being able to shoot a cow with a rocket launcher (which to be honest I wouldn’t really doubt!) and I was intrigued by the whole tourism attraction of being able to shoot high powered weaponry, but boys being boys me and my travel buddy Ross jumped in a tuk tuk armed with a wad of cash, adrenaline buzzing and token aviators in tow!
Getting from the town to Siem Reap to the shooting range was worth the day trip in itself. As we negotiated the winding road through the countryside, past the outskirts of the infamous Angkor Wat and tiny villages we wondered where the hell we were going and what we’d let ourselves in for.
This nervous feeling was further reinforced when we started passing heaps of Cambodians in military style dress. Even more so as we made our way up the dusty track surrounded by bored looking army types in hammocks with guns propped against the trees.
I’m not quite sure what I envisioned when we decided to do this – but the fact we were the only tourists there immediately had me on edge, not the best feeling to be having when you’re in the arse end of nowhere surrounded by alot of weapons!
Our tuk tuk driver introduced us to a hardened looking guy who produced a menu – in one column was the gun type, and in the second column cost per bullet.
The list of stuff we could get our hands on was pretty epic; machine guns, uzis, shotguns, rifles, bazookas…the works!
We opted for the iconic AK47 though – famed for it’s terrorist imagery and fmaously quoted as “for when you absolutely positively have to kill every mother f*cker in the room”, and dressed in a ripped tshirt, thai fisherman pants and aviators what could look cooler?!
Out with a Bang
Being properly skint at this point (Ross was heading to Oz a few days later and me to Switzerland) we decided to split a clip of ammo, which set us back about £25 each – pretty steep but it’s not something I shall be splashing out on everyday – an headed to the range.
Again I’m not sure quite what I was expecting, a field with some targets perhaps? Instead it was a concrete tunnel full of spent shells and thick with the smell of gunpowder.
Our Cambodian host locked and loaded and Ross opted for first blood so to speak. The sound of that first shot caught us both of guard – it was incredibly loud and echoed down the tunnel. I’ve shot rifles before but the AK was something else!
And that was just on single shot. When he opened it up on auto the sound and recoil was insanely impressive – boys and their toys hey?!
With the hot smell of oil and smoke in the air he handed the gun over to me and I braced myself. The feel of the cold metal in my hands, the pressure of the butt against my shoulder, all of my senses tuned in and heightened by the adrenaline of being let loose with so much raw power – it was a heaps good rush.
My hands trembling slightly as I squeezed the trigger for the first time and BAM the gun kicked back and all the pent up energy was expelled in an awesome display of flying metal, flame and smoke.
I was totally immersed in the whole experience and had a huge grin across my face and I blasted away.
Before I knew it my ears were ringing and our clip was spent. It’s the simple pleasures in life that can get you so stoked.
Before heading back we had to get our stereotypical mug shots done, posing with all kinds of guns, pulling our best freedom fighter style glares in front of a wall laden with weapons of all shapes and sizes.
Despite all the stories we’d heard on the road though not once were we offered a cow to shoot with a grenade launcher, not even a token chicken or two – part of me was pretty disappointed the opportunity wasn’t there…not because I wanted to witness an explosion of KFC and feathers in the shooting range, more for the fact I’d love to have more faith in the crazy stories you hear on the backpacker trail!
All in all the day wasn’t the cheapest way to spend your time in Cambodia – but it was definitely a unique experience and something I’d recommend you put on your bucket list if you were so inclined.
My buddy Jamie from DnJGoSeek.com is heading to the same range later this week after managing to crowd fund $300 from his buddies at home to shoot the rocket launcher! I’m intrigued to see how that pans out!
Anyone else blown some stuff up in Cambodia? Anyone get offered the cow?! Spill the beans!