Vientiane shooting range

Why wait for Phnom Penh?

What we say: 3.5 stars

For a small country with such a tiny population, Laos has seen more than its fair share of bombing and devastation and today, across the country efforts continue to slowly but surely clear the countryside of un-exploded ordnance. In the meantime, on the outskirts of Vientiane it’s possible for travellers to get their hands on some weapons and fire a few rounds at paper targets — why wait till you get to Phnom Penh?

Shooting range.

Shooting range.

When arriving at the shooting range of the Vientiane Capital Shooting Federation, visitors are presented with a menu of sorts, with the weapons which are available to shoot with. The menu lists items such as Uzi sub-machine guns, AK47s and M16s, but when we visited the only weapons available were a 9mm pistol, M16, shotgun and Uzi.

Dirty Adam.

Dirty Adam.

We chose to use the M16 and the 9mm pistol. First up was 10 rounds in the M16. I’d never even held a firearm before, so I had no idea how the weapon would feel in my hands, how it would react when I shot with it and how loud it would be. The M16 was surprisingly light and when I squeezed the trigger, it fired off two quick rounds with hardly a kick at all — but the sound was intense, my heart raced and my hands trembled.

Looking at where the shots hit on the paper target located about 30 metres away, I didn’t do a bad job — perhaps a testament to the weapon’s accuracy rather than any skill that I have.

9mm pistol sitting next to the M16

9mm pistol sitting next to the M16.

Next up was the 9mm pistol. In the hand, it felt quite comfortable and looked like a fairly lightweight firearm — can this thing really kill? Well, after firing off my first shot, it became quite clear how deadly a weapon this thing is. The weapon kicked back quite violently and I have absolutely no idea where the bullet went — probably into the log on the ground below the target. My heart was racing once again. After completing the magazine of bullets, it was all over.

In my opinion, it was a fantastic experience to head down to the shooting range to fire a few weapons of my choice, though, while it certainly makes for a change from wats and museums, this most certainly isn’t for everyone.

9mm bullets

9mm bullets.

Prices are as follows:

  • 9mm + 10 bullets: 100,000 kip
  • Uzi + 10 bullets: 100,000 kip
  • M16 + 10 bullets: 200,000 kip
  • Shotgun: 200,000 kip
  • AK47 (when available) + 10 bullets: 200,000 kip

To get to the Vientiane Capital Shooting Federation, take bus number 20 from the central bus station and ask the driver to stop at the shooting range — charades will do the trick — just aim out the window — not at the driver.

The other option is to rent a tuk tuk to take you there, wait around for an hour and then take you back for around 100,000 to 120,000 kip.

Last updated: 2nd January, 2014

About the author:
Adam gave up a corporate career in 2009 and left Australia for the hustle and bustle of Southeast Asia. He now lives in Indonesia, where as well as writing for Travelfish.org he plays around with www.pergidulu.com.
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