In early March, I was invited to Dubai as part of the Hidden Dubai campaign headed up by Yahoo, Emirates, and Dubai Tourism. While my trip was complimentary, all opinions below are my own.
Getting to the JA Shooting Club
Roughly forty minutes drive from the glitz and glamour of Dubai’s high-rise hotels, colossal malls, and manicured beaches you’ll find that the veneer of decadence soon gives way to dusty roads and even dustier fields. Out beyond the city limits, you see the Emirates as they may well be without the money and concerted effort of the Al Maktoum family.
As pleasant as I’d found the luxury of the Gloria Hotel and the pampering I’d received while exploring the city, it was nice to get out from the hustle and bustle of the city to the relative quiet of the Jebel Ali Shooting Club. It’s an oasis of green (and blissful air conditioning) out in the red-brown earth of the desert.
Inside, we’re ushered to comfortable couches and armchairs while we fill out the standard forms you’d expect to sign before handling a firearm. There’s a small shop on hand where I grab some souvenirs/essentials – a JA Shooting Club branded polo and a baseball cap. The desert heat has already baked my poor, bald skull and forced me to sweat through my poorly chosen sky blue t-shirt.
We’re given the option to choose a handgun and hit the firing range or take shotguns out into the blazing sun to work out our frustrations against some clay pigeons. While my preference was for the path of least exposure to sun, we eventually decide to shoulder some shotguns and head out.
If you’d rather not read (reading is for nerds, after all), Hidden-Dubai has this rad video that sums it all up.
“Have you ever fired a gun before, Chris?” Kim-Marie from Luxury Travel Mom asks as we make our way to the range.
“No,” I lie, choosing not to count the time I fired an AK47 in Cambodia, “I have not”.
Australia has pretty restrictive gun laws. While it’s certainly still possible to fire a handgun at a firing range, it’s really only farmers who still keep guns these days. The events of the Port Arthur Massacre necessitated harsher gun laws, and I wouldn’t change that for the world.
“I bet I can hit more than you,” the saucy American taunts me. I don’t doubt it. If watching The Walking Dead has taught me nothing else, it’s that every American is a crack-shot capable of pulling headshots at a run with ease.
“I don’t doubt it,” I concede.
“What do I get if I hit more than you?” she presses. For her part, the demure woman behind Hungry Hungry Panda chuckles and lets me defend myself.
I’ve seen how much dinners are in Dubai. I am not confident my poor credit card could stand up to losing such a bet. Still, I’ve got Australian pride on the line.
Our teacher out on the range is a stony-faced but friendly man whose name escapes me. His name tag said ‘One Love’, so let’s just call him that.
We’re given a crash course in gun safety, how to load our weapons, and how to track our target before firing. It’s a far cry from the dingy shed in Cambodia where I squeezed off an entire clip’s worth of ammunition in a heartbeat.
Kim-Marie first and, wonder of wonders, only manages to blast one pesky clay pigeon from the sky. In her defense, I can’t imagine it’s easy firing a shotgun wearing high heels and a skirt. The price we pay for looking good.
Nervous and picturing a recoil that will throw me across the range and back into our camera crew, I step up to the plate and prepare to be emasculated.
Sweet shit, I got it on the first go!
Buoyed by my apparent status as a natural shooter, I proceed to miss the next nine attempts. Still, I’ve managed to equal Kim-Marie’s efforts.
Petite and cute as a button, Fei from Hungry Hungry Panda saunters up and makes a show of squinting as if she can’t see what’s going on.
She coolly blasts three pigeons from the air before coming back towards us with a big grin on her face.
“I got one!” she cries proudly.
“You got three!” I object, “They don’t count if you don’t know you hit them”.
In a show of remarkable opportunism and female solidarity, Kim-Marie is quick to throw her lot in with Fei.
“Fei beat you, Chris,” she chides me, “Dinner is on you!”
I bluster. I growl. I threaten mayhem in the third degree.
Thankfully, Yahoo were kind enough to foot the bill for our camel burgers that night. I was off the hook!
I went in a bit nervous about handling a firearm, which is likely a result of having grown up in a place where guns are pretty much outlawed. I definitely enjoyed the experience, and I can see now why people say it is relaxing to fire off a few shots. Even missing, there was something strangely satisfying about the kick of the shotgun.
The JA Shooting Club is part of the Jebel Ali Golf Club and is located a short drive from Dubai.
The range offers a variety of handguns (including a kick-ass six shooter) as well as clay shooting. Prices range from 110 AED for a .22 up to 220 AED for clay target shooting.
All participants must be over 13 and must have a valid passport.
Have you ever gone shooting while abroad?
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