These events happened on Tuesday, the 3rd of August, 2021. We had booked a shooting guns activity at a shooting range outside of Kyiv. This is what to expect from this activity and the four different guns we fired. Note that this was my first time shooting guns and that I do not know the correct terminology for a lot of actions/gun parts. If you have corrections/mansplanations, please drop them in the comments!
Booking the Activity
After booking our trip to Chornobyl, Jonas found out that you can also shoot Kalashnikovs in Kyiv. This is something he has wanted to do since finding out about the same activity in Bratislava, Slovakia. We hadn’t done it there, so he really wanted to do it in Kyiv. I have always wanted to shoot a real gun and imagined I’d do it while in Texas, USA, but it was expensive and I was poor.
Jonas asked me “Do you want to shoot guns in Kyiv?” and I was like “Yeah sure”, so he booked it. He said that their website looked exactly the same as the company that organizes it in Bratislava.
It’s not a cheap activity, but it’s kind of a bucket list item.
Also, we really wanted to figure out how we feel about real guns. I think that doing things that are out of character helps one keep an open mind and perhaps grow as a person. I always heard that it’s a lot of fun to shoot guns with live ammunition. As someone who is definitely anti-war and thinks there are healthier ways to settle a dispute than with weapons, I thought I’ll probably learn I hate it. We both play first-person shooter games on the computer and in VR – Jonas more than I do – so that’s something we enjoy.
Driving to the Shooting Range in Kyiv Oblast
The shooting guns activity included a pickup from Kyiv, which was very convenient. The Chornobyl tour didn’t include a pickup in the city, which made that trip a lot more exhausting. Another difference is that you can book the shooting guns activity for the afternoon, so you don’t need to wake up too early—which is always nice.
We received a phone call half an hour before pickup time at 14:00 and then another a few minutes after 14:00 that the car had arrived. Once downstairs, we were looking for a car that screamed ‘gun fanatic’ but couldn’t find any. We were walking on the thin ledge at the road looking for a car when one car started driving a bit in front of me. I did the “What are you doing?!” gesture and he stopped short of hitting me. That was, of course, the car that would drive us to the shooting range. Excellent.
Inside the car, all was forgiven and a quiet man drove us for 40 minutes out of town. The closer we came to the middle of nowhere, the more nervous I got. I guess a shooting range is an excellent place to murder someone and hide their body. Paranoia is one hell of a drug.
At the shooting range close to Kyiv Boryspil International Airport in Kyiv Oblast, a lady shouted in English that we have to wait two minutes. It started raining, which was a little sad. I got out my waterproof dry bag and phone case so I could still film things in the rain. That proved unnecessary when we went to the area from where we would be shooting guns because it had a nice roof. I expected there to be a kind of open field with a forest behind it, but there was this huge earthen wall to capture shittily-aimed bullets. Right in front of the line that we couldn’t step over, there were a billion bullet casings. Metal ones.
Shooting Guns Preparation
We were alone there at first, but more and more people showed up. One guy in a high-viz jacket had the job to go out onto the field and hang up target posters while the lady told us to write our names and sign on a sheet. Another really big, kinda intimidating guy in camouflage with ammunition boxes was doing the gun preparation. The lady told us to never point the guns too far up or too far down and never point it anywhere but in the direction of the targets. There’s a village called Krasylivka 1.5 kilometers behind the shooting range and if you fire a sniper rifle at an angle of 45°, it might travel a mile and kill someone over there. Avoid this mistake.
I was feeling a little nervous, mostly for my hearing. I saw the ear protection on the wall and waited till it was time to grab one. Another group that gave me tourist vibes also arrived, although they didn’t speak English with their instructor. The lady told us about the position to shoot a gun in and how you need to lean a little forward like skiing. It was a lot of information to quickly process.
The big guy in camo with the weapons turned out to be our instructor. When it started raining he was standing in it and loving it, saying something like fuck yeah, it’s finally raining. He gave us the ear protection and I put it on to enjoy the quiet. It’s nice. I took it off for literally a second during instruction for the first gun to put on my buff to keep hair off my forehead when someone, somewhere, fired a gun.
JESUS CHRIST WHAT THE FUCK
That was really loud. My ears hurt. That was unexpected. I shoved the ear protection back on my head and didn’t take it off till the end of the activity.
Shooting Guns Experiences
Whatever gun Handgun in a body kit
The first gun was a lightweight something-something. I do not know what this gun was, but it replaced the handgun for some reason. I only realized afterward that this gun replaced the handgun and it made both Jonas and I a little sad that we didn’t try out the most common type of firearm that often encounter in the real world.
Anyway, we had to shoot at the 25-meter paper target. Jonas went first and shot at the one on the left. When it was my turn, I shot at the one on the right. The instructor helped me put my hands in the right place. My hands were kind of limp beforehand because I was so afraid to accidentally fire it by putting my hands in the wrong place.
There was a laser pointer thingy in the aiming sight. I put it to my face and fired. Loud and powerful. I had no idea if I hit the target, but the gun instructor was very happy. I had to shoot 9 more times and apparently, I hit more accurately than Jonas. “She’s better!” he shouted.
Edited to add: if you have gun knowledge, I’d love it if you could tell me what type of gun this is in the comments! We found it on their website. It’s apparently a Glock 19 in a body kit. So it’s a handgun in a thing to make it bigger and get a laser sight on it for first-time idiots like us 🙂 see this video for how it works
AK-47, AKA Kalashnikov
You only know how much fun the lightweight gun is when it’s gone because the AK-47 was next. There was a diagram on the wall behind us on how to align the two sight pieces to aim. This wasn’t clear until holding the gun. Jonas went first every time and he had to shoot at the metal target some 50 meters away. First, he shot once dry, and then our instructor attached the arched magazine to the bottom. He tried to encourage Jonas to go through his magazine quicker, saying “Faster, Rambo style!” Fifteen bullets down, my turn.
The Kalashnikov is HEAVY, I thought. I got help putting my hands in the right place again and aimed for the 50-meter target. I shot and again I had no idea if I hit it. There was some dust behind my target but that was all the proof I had that I’d fired it because gunshots were going off all the time at this point by the other group.
At one point, I needed to put the gun down for a few seconds to let the tension go from my muscles. The instructor hurried over to take the gun from me and put the safety back on or something like that so I wouldn’t point it at my feet. That would be tragic. He became less intimidating and more just like a big competent friendly bear of a guy with every gun. I don’t know how these people do it, trusting total strangers with freaking firearms. I said “Gatova” when I was ready to continue shooting.
The instructor told me to go “Bang bang bang!” instead of “Bang… Bang… Bang.” so I did that. He sometimes said “Ten centimeters higher” or “Five to the right,” and then I did that. I heard the lady and the instructor both being very enthusiastic about both of us as first-timers: “She’s good, like Lara Croft!”
Jonas missed 4/15 and I missed 2/15. This was… fun.
The sniper rifle is the one I was looking forward to the most because I knew it involved lying down or sitting. I had put on clothes that I’m comfortable getting dirty in – basically my kayak clothes – so I was ready for this. But we just had to sit down wide-legged on a little stool. The sniper rifle is extremely long and the barrel has something to lean on, so you’re only holding it at one end. We were told to hold a horizontal bar with our left hand, the trigger handle with our right, then put our left elbow in the direction of shooting, and then lie down forward as much as possible to lock one’s body in a still position. Jonas went first and our instructor said it went quite okay with him.
The sight on this wasn’t as understandable as I’d hoped with a laser, but it had a small ^ that was apparently the thing to aim at the target 100 meters away. Jonas had his gaming advantage in that he knew he had to aim higher than intended because of gravity. All I knew was that one should be very calm and shoot in between heartbeats, which is not something I’m not aware of in my body despite years of yoga.
The recoil on the sniper rifle is significant and pushing my shoulder into it to prevent getting slammed in the face was quite many things to do at the same time that all came at the expense of careful aiming.
Again, I had no idea how we did. But I thought it was fun and I would have liked to shoot even more bullets with this one to get better.
Shotgun (single barrel, don’t get too excited)
The final gun was the shotgun. I always consider shotguns the most dangerous and the most for people with shit aim or not a care in the world what they hit. The plastic ammunition went in and we were told to shoot it fast after each other and to the reload move real quick with pump-action. For this one, we had to aim at the metal 50-meter target.
The sight wasn’t very clear with this one and the recoil is by far the biggest. I had to lean against it quite a bit to catch its force. I failed to reload it by making the pulling motion the first five times, but then I finally started putting enough force in it. It smelled bad when it put out the dusty, smokey empty shell and the instructor was afraid I’d get gunpowder in my eyes. Those shells were plastic and they were picked up afterward and not shoved to the edge.
At this point, we just fully expected not to know how we did until we were finished. I don’t think either of us did very well, though we both hit the targets a bunch of times. I think this was the least ‘fun’ weapon. It was also much heavier than the Kalashnikov.
Driving Back to Kyiv
After the shooting, Jonas paid the remaining amount in Hryvnia. We thanked them for the instruction and took some photos with the guns and our paper targets. To get the paper targets, the guy in the high-viz jacket shouted in Russian “Hold your fire! I’m going out onto the field! Hold your fire!”
I think we could have taken the paper targets home, but we both thought that would be weird—also, it’s not very travel-friendly to carry these bulky things around. Turns out Jonas hit the target with the sniper rifle twice, not bad!
I took off my ear protection after the other group had already left. Still, one of the people from the shooting range fired a gun. By now, my ears were not exactly used to it, but it also didn’t come as with such a heart attack as the first one.
The same driver took us back home to Kyiv and we talked over our experiences in the car, smelling a little bit like gunpowder.
What stood out to us is that we didn’t show our passports to anyone. We also didn’t wear facemasks with our cheeks on the rifles, but that was not completely unexpected. But the passports? Funny, they know my full name at Chornobyl but not at the shooting range. We also paid most of it in cash, so if they had to find out who we are all that’s left is Jonas’ PayPal account, which is also not completely foolproof.
At home, I saw the bruises in Jonas’ right shoulder/armpit area. He could feel that he’d been shooting guns in his body. I didn’t have bruises but expected them to still come.
The next day I felt a little sore in my right shoulder and my left upper arm also felt a little used. The skin at my right shoulder looks a little roughed up, but I have no bruising. Jonas has quite some little bruises though and also feels a little like he did a Bad Thing.
Shooting Guns: Concluding Remarks
Shooting guns was fun. I think doing it two or three more times would lead to better target results because one knows where to put their hands on the weapons. So I think there’s definitely value in repeating the experience—although absolutely not at this price point.
If I had to quit traveling and entered a mid-life crisis with a lot of money, I think joining a shooting club would perhaps be up my alley. But I think shooting air guns or just doing archery would probably be just as much fun. I enjoy the peace and quiet and actual firearms are really, really loud. Target practice without the noise sounds like a good time.
I’m a little disappointed that we didn’t get to reload. The entire pace of the activity was just really fast; we were back at our apartment in about two hours time despite traffic, which means that our time at the shooting range was only fifty minutes. I don’t really feel like I learned much except for how to prevent getting injured by the recoil of a big ass gun. If I found myself hunting and my gun-owning buddy was being mauled by a bear, I would not know how to save them by loading the gun, putting it off safety or whatever, and then murdering the bear. I’m sorry, buddy.
As for the photos, I think it’s not very cute. I’ve looked at so many photos of gun fanatics posing with their weapons over the corpse of a rhino or giraffe. It’s messed up. I got the same vibes from my photos despite the lack of corpses. And they’re giving me white supremacist vibes because of how I look.
If I had to choose between two unwholesome things to do in Kyiv, I’d choose the Chornobyl tour over shooting guns. Because Chornobyl is an absolutely unique place on earth and I learned so, so much despite having watched everything Chornobyl that I came across.
Shooting Guns in Kyiv Info:
- How to book: send them an email via their website here. If you’re left-handed, perhaps mention that in the email. You can also call them
- Duration: 3 hours. For us, this was about 50 minutes of actually shooting guns and the rest of the time being stuck in traffic
- Price: US$180 per person for four guns if you are two people. They have cheaper packages for fewer guns, but considering the drive out there, you might as well make it worth your while. Prepayment goes via PayPal. The breakdown of the price is pretty vague and you might be able to get it much, much cheaper. But I’m not going to haggle over the price with gunowners
- It might be cheaper if you just go there in person instead of choosing the driver option. You can ask them. Taking an Uber two-ways is UAH 700, €22, or US$26, although finding an Uber on the way back from the shooting range might be more difficult than on the way from Kyiv. Perhaps prepare a hitchhiking sign or bring some stuff to walk to the nearest bus station. The address of the shooting range is here on this link. Perhaps if you do it more than one time the price also drops significantly. We aren’t the greatest hagglers
- Bring: passports, face masks, water, snackos, sunglasses, hats. Perhaps bring your glasses if you’re very dependent on them. The shooting instructor will tell you if you can wear them or not. You’re generally in the shadow
- Wear: comfortable clothing. You need to be able to spread your legs slightly. Since it’s outdoor, perhaps boots are a good idea
- You’ll receive: ear protection
- Be: not on drugs or alcohol
- Expect: some bruises from the recoil of guns
- Not for those under 18. This is not a kid-friendly activity. It is, however, a perfect activity for people who dislike being around kids
Great info? Consider buying me a bulletproof coffee!
Open in wallet