SXSW 2007

This is my travel blog. It started as a way for people to keep up with my trip to Australia to watch the 2006/7 Ashes series, and continued with my trip to SXSW 2007 in Austin, Texas, and Las Vegas in March '07.

Thursday, March 22, 2007



There's a saying "What happens in Vegas, Stays in Vegas" so I'm not sure if I'm breaking some sort of unwritten code by showing these pictures. But I couldn't resist.
Probably the one thing I've wanted to in Vegas since I was here with Faz in 2005 has been to shoot various machine guns/pistols at a range here. I only found out about it too late last time & I've been waiting for a chance to have a go ever since. It's the sort of scene that you just can't imagine in the UK. You walk into a little store a couple of miles from the strip and plastered all over the walls are every conceivable type of machine gun, rifle and pistol, most of which are available to rent and fire in the range out back. All it takes is to sign the legal disclaimer (presumably to cover them if you shoot yourself or anyone else - "going postal" as I believe it's known over here), pay the girl at the till, collect earmuffs and safety glasses and you're ready to go. I decided to start with the favourite of terrorists and rebel armies the world over, the AK47. (Picture no. 2 above). An instructor takes you into the range, gives you a few quick safety drills and than hands you the weapon!
It gives you a real shot of adrenalin when you're handed a fully loaded machine gun (or technically assault rifle). You gently squeeze the trigger and BLAM BLAM BLAM BLAM suddenly you've loosed of half a dozen rounds! The muzzle jumps around a lot too making accurate firing hard. The target of Osama Bin Laden I was aiming at was only 10 yards away at the most and I hit it easily, but I suspect if it was say, double that, you would miss with as many shots as hit. I had bought 2 magazines (50 shots) and loosed them off in rapid
fashion. The rifle barrel gets surprisingly hot too! You have a forward grip to hold but can feel the heat though it.
I then tried a Beretta 9mm automatic pistol. This was a bit less daunting than the AK47, but I gave myself the more difficult target of a hostage being held in front of the gunman. You have to try and aim for the head, missing the poor old hostage. Again from only 10 yards, I managed to hit the gunman fairly consistently, but unfortunately 100% accuracy is required in these sort of situations. One shot would have winged my hostage in the shoulder, one in the ear, and more fatally, one right in the throat! I won't be volunteering for a SWAT team any time soon. I will definitely have more respect for the armed police after this. Having to deal with all the variables, with the possiblity of someone firing back at you too, is a job I wouldn't want for all the tea in China.
Next up was a Heckler & Koch MP5. This is the sort of gun the police carry in airports in the UK. It was a much more subtle machine gun - less muzzle jump, and more accurate by far than the AK47. The results at 10 yards are very similar though!
Finally I plucked up the courage to try try the .44 Magnum revolver, the infamous Dirty Harry gun. (Picture top above). This is a BIG gun! Compared to the Beretta, it's a bit like comparing a collie dog with a Great Dane. Off we go back into the range, my instructor being a small blond woman, with me wondering if I'm going to make a right fool of myself. She loads up the famous 6 shells (Did I fire 5 or did I fire 6? You know in all the commotion I'm not quite sure myself!!) and gives me some safety rules and then hands it over. Grip with both hands, making sure to keep the thumb away from the hammer, stand square to the target, bend the knees, and squeeeezze the trigger and KABLAM!!! The muzzle jerks upwards and you get a real kick backwards. I'm aiming at a more stylised target with red dots to indicate the target areas - body, head etc. After 6 shots the instructor empties the gun and reloads and I aim at another area. In all 20 shots, and then the target is reeled back towards me. To my amazement the groupings are pretty good (check it out on the picture). Even the instructor was very complimentary - though I suspect she may say that to all the blokes!
You can tell the effect all this had on me - just look at the size of the grin on my face in the photos! It's a very weird feeling, part fear, part power, part total elation. I wouldn't want to get too attached to it, but I'm glad I've had the chance to do it. I would heartily recommend anyone going to Vegas to give it a go. It's pretty cheap really - $50 for AK47 & 2 mags, $40 for the H&K MP5 and one mag, $25 for the Beretta for 2 mags and $60 for the Magnum and 20 shots. There were loads of other weapons - Uzi 9mm, M16, Sten gun, Tommy gun, German MP40 (WWII) etc etc. You won't get a chance to do anything like this back in good old Nanny State UK. There were other British guys there while I was there too. Obviously there's a bit of a latent desire in many blokes back home in the UK to try and emulate Arnie, Sly and Clint.
Incidentally, if you're a fan of the Dirty Harry movies (as I am) you may have noticed the way the gun in the movies really kicks upwards when fired. This is totally realistic. Though I wouldn't want to try firing it one handed as Clint does. I was using both hands and still had to fight to control it. But I suppose Hollywood has never made accuracy one of it's watchwords.
Anyway I've rambled on a bit too much about this now so I'll stop now. But as they say in the moves, I'LL BE BACK!!!

9 Comments:

At 9:44 AM, March 22, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Kablam?!

 
At 9:44 AM, March 22, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Kablam??!

 
At 7:16 PM, March 22, 2007, Blogger ashesblogger said...

Actually, KABLAM!! is the technical term for the sound made by a .44 Magnum..........

 
At 7:32 PM, March 22, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

James, what started off as a nice read about cricket and then a bit of reportage on modern music has suddenly got very wierd or wired indeed. Now you know why all your friends drink alcohol!

 
At 6:30 PM, March 24, 2007, Blogger ashesblogger said...

Well, if someone wants to imply I've driven them to drink they could at least reveal their identity..................

 
At 2:18 PM, April 02, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Love the ear phones! Although I think you are MAD! Agnes, Stadhampton Oxon

 
At 2:26 PM, April 02, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

ARE YOU GAY??

 
At 11:02 PM, April 04, 2007, Blogger ashesblogger said...

I'm not sure who is questioning my sexuality (tho I do think I know who is behind some of the other comments) but in case anyone wants to know, no I'm not gay. I can't quite work out what on this blog would give that impression but just to reiterate, NOT GAY!

 
At 1:19 AM, April 12, 2007, Anonymous Invisible said...

Please, God, for the love of all the women in Britain, Don't Let Ashes be Gay!

 

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