:: Wednesday, October 15, 2003 ::
Fun and games for the Wall Street Jounal's Leisure & Arts staff.
Family fun at the machine-gun range.
After the usual safety checks, the upper range opened up--with a vengeance. The fully automatic gunfire was deafening, with a dozen or so heavy machine guns firing at any one time. Every now and then, the din would be punctuated by the sonic-boom-like thud of a .50-caliber sniper rifle.
I listened to this high-caliber cacophony for 10 minutes or so, then went to the lower range, where you could rent lower-caliber machine guns. The range was about 100 yards deep and littered with junked cars, old refrigerators, empty propane cylinders and soft-drink cans. The weapon that immediately caught my eye was the MG42, the workhorse of the Wehrmacht and considered by many to be the finest machine gun ever made. At just 25 pounds, it can fire 1,200 rounds a minute and is lethally accurate up to 1,100 yards. I had to shoot it.
After signing a release form and forking over $55 for 50 rounds, I hunkered down and took aim. With remarkably little effort, I obliterated the hubcap on a rusting car about 100 yards out. Alas, running through the 50-round belt took all of about four seconds. Before I knew it, the gun owner was smiling and shaking my hand. I was happy but wanted more.
:: Mark 9:15 AM [+] ::