With guns blazing, Sarah Riches heads to Al Ain’s shooting club.
Feeling like a Bond girl, we load a bullet into a 9mm pistol and grip the handle. Taking aim at our target nine metres away, we pull the trigger – and the force of the bullet makes us recoil.
But unlike in the films, we’re not shooting a live target. Instead, our aim is a bullseye at the far end of a lawn, as we’re on a practice range at Al Ain Equestrian, Shooting & Golf Club.
Since it opened in August 2010, the club has provided Al Ain residents and visitors the chance to practise shooting a variety of pistols and rifles on different courses.
Our tutor, Magdy Ragab, reassures us the club is certified by the International Shooting Sport Federation (ISSF), as he introduces us to the sport.
We start at the indoor shooting range, which is designed for 40 people to shoot targets 10m away. We use an air rifle with a .177 calibre, which refers to the diameter of the barrel. At almost a metre long, it’s heavy, so beginners are encouraged to sit and rest it on padding instead of standing and holding it. We’re given 40 bullets. It’s not as straightforward as aiming for the 2.5cm-wide bullseye, as the bullseye itself is split into sections, like a dartboard. Hit a 10.9 and you’ve hit the nucleus of the bullseye. Our best result is 10.7 – not bad for a beginner. Our score is shown on a screen above us so spectators can watch and cheer as they would at a bowling alley.
We try another shooting range next, again designed for 40 people. But this time we lie down, and shoot out of a window at a target 50m away. It’s harder, but you have the option of choosing an easy setting.
We’re lucky as our tutor, Atef Seoudy, was once one of the world’s top four shooters – he took part in the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics. Now 70, he’s been shooting for 60 years.
‘Bend your knee and keep your elbows wide,’ he advises. ‘Hold the rifle with both hands and lay your thumb flat on the gun.’
Atef is so well-trained, he says he can hit bullseye without looking.
We don’t believe him. ‘Prove it,’ we challenge.
And so he does. As we cover his eyes with a groundsheet, he memorises his position, holds his breath and shoots the nucleus of the bullseye five times in a row.
‘Hitting bullseye is like a baby feeding itself for the first time,’ he explains. ‘The first few times, the baby misses and food lands on its cheek. But once the baby has located its mouth with its hand, it won’t miss again.’
Feeling more confident, we go for the big guns – the .22 pistol. For this we need ear protection, which muffles the sound around us. But when the gun fires, there’s no mistaking the crack of the bullet. Shooting pistols will be a fun challenge to some, but it won’t be to everyone’s taste, as the weight of the gun and the pop of the bullet makes you only too aware of how powerful a weapon it is.
We skip the fourth shooting range, a 25m one designed for 30 pistol-toting players, in favour of clay pigeon shooting, which is held on a field the size of five football pitches. Up to six people can shoot on a team, and there are four areas from which to shoot.
The rifle is heavy, and you must press it firmly against your shoulder to prevent it from recoiling back into it once fired. There’s no ear protection, so when we take the shot, our ears tingle for a few seconds as the shot echoes around our head. We miss spectacularly.
Time passes quickly here so plan to stay at least half a day. Before you know it, you’ll be going great guns.
Dhs40 for 50 bullets on the 10m rifle range, Dhs90 for 50 bullets on the 50m rifle range, Dhs90 for 50 bullets on the 9m pistol range, Dhs140 for 25 bullets for clay pigeon shooting. Al Ain Equestrian, Shooting & Golf Club, Al Maqam, near Tawam Hospital, Al Ain, www.aesgc.ae (03 768 4888).
Aim for these...
Get a discount!
From now until August 31, the club is offering 15 per cent off all its annual memberships – shooting (usually Dhs2,000 a year), equestrian (Dhs1,000), golf (Dhs11,900) and rugby (Dhs2,900).
Under the gun
Think you’ve got a steady hand and good eye? Get into the fighting spirit by shooting pistols in a competition 9.30pm-2am from June 28 to July 22 and you might win a prize.Dhs200 (03 702 6500).