Shooting stuff is cool – providing you do it in a safe environment and no one gets dead. Happily, there are plenty of places to do just this in the UAE
Time Out Dubai staff
Guns might be harbingers of destruction, but they still have a dangerous allure to many. Luckily, for all the would-be gunslingers out there, there is a plethora of projectile-based action – from small-calibre handguns to shotguns – to be had here.
It’s worth noting, however, that the rules regarding ammunition and shooting ranges are always in flux, so it’s a good idea to ring ahead before you set off. Also, be aware that local laws may prohibit the taking of photographs while you’re at the gun ranges.
Range shooting If you ever wanted to recreate the paper-destroying gun practice scenes from your favourite cop show, then rejoice.The UAE offers pistol-packing entertainment from three locations. Dubai’s Jebel Ali Golf Resort & Spa offers three 25m lanes for your shooting needs. Though it’s a little way out from Dubai and only has a small selection of pistols, it should more than suffice for beginners. The guns on offer come in two calibres: the teeny-tiny .22 rounds, useful if you’re inexperienced or worried about the strength of kickback from the gun, and the slightly more robust 9mm rounds for living out any Arnie fantasies. Abu Dhabi’s Caracal Shooting Club also offers .22 and 9mm rounds.
A far bigger selection is on offer at the excellent, though similarly out-of-the-way, Sharjah Golf & Shooting Club. Offering a variety of pistols, rifles and revolvers in .22, 9mm, .38 wadcutter and .38 magnum rounds, this really is a gun fan’s paradise. Of particular note are the laser-scoped .22 rifle, the 9mm pistols with stocks (useful if you have shaky hands) and the Dirty Harry-esque .38 magnum. Just resist the urge to clear your throat and say, ‘Do I feel lucky?’ – they’ve heard it all before.
Clay pigeon shooting If shooting a defenceless paper target seems a bit unsporting, then you can always turn to clay pigeon shooting, where the clay discs at least have a chance to whiz past you and into the wild. Jebel Ali Golf Resort & Spa offer three different discflinging trap types, including the ‘Olympic’ voice-activated trap. There are also several ways of sending the clays, including varied aerial arcs and the ‘rabbit’, which rolls the disc along the ground at a speed to imitate a small, fast running critter.
Pursuit Games Gun your way through 100,000 sq ft of floodlit playing field, with semi-automatic paintball guns and up to 40 combatants in the arena at any one time. Pursuit Games’ status as an institution among the city’s paint-pumping fanatics is justified – they’ve devised a horde of scenarios, incorporate regular night fighting events and have managed to forge a sociable atmosphere for encouraging those who want to go further into the game.
Aside from the usual team elimination games, capture the flag and splatterfest free-for-all matches, Pursuit Games has also gone a bit creative with some of its scenarios. We’re particularly taken with ‘Spy’, in which each player is given a secret number. A few minutes into the game, a horn is sounded and a number called. There is one player in each team with this number. They become spies and must turn on their team at the first given moment, with the objective to eliminate your own team and take ‘your flag’ to the opposition’s base.
Sharjah Paintball Park So much of paintballing is about atmosphere. It’s no good kitting up with mask, khakis and weapon if you still feel like you’re running around a golf course. That’s where Sharjah Golf and Shooting Club’s paintball park excels. It’s got four huge fields, each with its own ambience: one dedicated ‘speedball’ field that incorporates inflatable obstacles to hide behind, and another with wooden obstacles. Then there’s the 5,000 sq m jungle field, which has been given the Rambo treatment with three bunkers, a crashed plane and one or two derelict jeeps to provide cover. Then move onto the savannah area, a 2,700 sq m area of scrubby desert and obstacles, designed to resemble something like a guerrilla warzone. While a diversity of scenarios is not the main attraction, we do like the sound of ‘Prison Break’, where teams try to break a comrade out of their opposition’s base and get them safely home.
The Sharjah Paintball Park hosted the Middle East’s largest paintballing tournament in 2009 and now intends to make the event an annual thing. If you think you’ve honed your skills enough, band some friends together, form a team and compete for cash prizes. For further details, see www.paintballuae.com.
I don’t like it… …because it’s not real enough So, you need to feel like you’re actually handling a weapon to get the full experience. Fine – Pursuit Games now hosts Airsoft matches. That’s BB guns modelled exactly on real weapons, taken on the field and battled out for a more authentic military experience. The lack of paint means that any hits have to be accounted for. ‘It’s an honour thing,’ we’re told. All above board, and for real enthusiasts, register by calling the number below and then bring along your own modified gun to one of their Friday morning sessions. Pursuit Games can help with organising the purchase of these modified guns, and will store the gun in their armoury. Dubai now has its own active Airsoft group, with around 400 members meeting and eviscerating twice a week at Pursuit Games. The scenarios and the gameplay are very similar to paintball, with an intense realism that ups the adventure rating. For more info and how to join the Airsoft group, call 050 651 4583.
I don’t like it… …because it hurts For those of you who head for the hills at the thought of pellets of bruise-inducing paint being propelled at your behind, there is an alternative. If you’re still hellbent on gunning down your friends, Dubai Autodrome has developed a dedicated laser-tag arena to vent your rage. Kit yourself out in one of Laserdrome’s bulky waistcoats, complete with flashing sensors, take a laser-emitting ‘rifle’ into your hands and then charge about their atmospheric, dayglo environment, evading opposition laser beams and scoring yourself some direct hits in the process. Painless, paint-less and, while not quite as realistic, this is a more softie-friendly way to shoot. For more information call Dubai Autodrome on 04 367 8700. It costs Dhs80 per person for a 20-minute session in the arena.
Archery Do you feel that gunpowder and lead have taken the romance out of killing? Do bows get you all a-quiver? If so, you could always take the Robin Hood route at one of the three archery centres in the UAE. Of them all, Hatta Fort Hotel near Dubai is probably the best for experienced archers, as it offers recurve bows and seven 23m ranges – the longest in the UAE, and only seven metres off Olympic standard. For variety, Sharjah Golf & Shooting Club offers not just recurve bows but also crossbows and junior bows, though its ranges are only 10m long. And, somewhere in the middle, Jebel Ali Golf Resort & Spa has 18m ranges plus the standard recurve bows. Never has being highly strung been so much fun.
Laser Caracal Shooting Club has pioneering laser gun tecnology in which visitors can shoot at computer projections in a variety of simulations, from war to hunting. And because the system involves projecting the image onto leather screens, players also have the option of using .22 pistols.
The Dubai Autodrome has also opened up a laserdrome, where you can tear around with laser guns and ‘shoot’ at each other. If you’re unlucky enough to cop a hit off an opponent, the sensors in your jacket will flash and your scores can be tallied up at the end of the game. The Hatta Fort Hotel is also considering employing laser ranges. Finally, if you think it’s a good idea to teach your little ones how to use implements of death then you can take them along to Sharjah Golf & Shooting Club, which is the only place to offer air rifle rounds in both regular and magnum calibres.