Thursday, January 21, 2016

The LA Gun Club, Give It A Shot

Guns! Guns! Guns! We see them used in our favorite movies and TV shows. (Oh, Die Hard, and countless other films, how many holes did you make in our hearts and then filled them with bullets. Love of bullets.) We use them to kill enemies in video games. But let me ask you, have you ever shot one? The sensation of firing a projectile and seeing it give off a tiny explosion at your fingertips. The bullets go by so fast, you're not sure if you've even hit a target. With friends, it's a real treat for an evening.

I was told by different staff Valentine's Day is their busiest day!

The only chance you'll have to fire a gun downtown for fun is at the iconic Los Angeles Gun Club an institution that's been around for decades. You may pass it at first as it's hidden away in a factory district, no giant gun pasted on the side. You won't hear a thing outside. It so silent outside, a friend and I checked out the adjacent LAB next door, a wall climbing experience and didn't hear anything, other than serene workout music and people slightly grunting when they dropped on the matted floor.

Our experience was being blown away by the options of weapons to choose from. As soon as you walk in the door you'll see a countless armory of every gun fired on your favorite show. Shotguns, rifles, modified AK-47s, magnums and more. It's like being transported into an overstocked shop in a video game. We honestly didn't do anything but look up at all the guns for a good 20 minutes, commented on all the targets and made fun of how outdated some of the targets looked. Some made in the 70's, some made now.

Something pink grabbed my eye. "Is that a a breast cancer awareness one?, " I asked my friend. Sure enough, for shooting was a, "Shoot for the cure," pink breast cancer awareness paper target. No, it did not have breasts targets to shoot at, as you might think it would. It wasn't the only pink piece we saw or would handle, we picked up a custom Hello Kitty pink pistol to plug our targets with.

We chose another favorite target of discussion, "business man who for some reason is pointing a gun at you." Why, or what the circumstance is makes little difference as to how simple and strange a man in a suit has pulled on a gun on you as a target. He doesn't look all that threatening, just so ordinary.

Before choosing our target, we went through the simple process of getting to fire guns at the gun range. First you'll take a number and while waiting you'll be asked to sign a one page liability waiver and fill it out, taking at most a minute to fill out. It requires a thumb print with a built-in ink spot for you. Dab, your thumb, then dab it on the waiver. Turn in. When the staff is ready they'll call your number and you get to select your weapons.

Oh, what to choose. Now we were helped by the employee Luis Pena who talked us through what guns to choose, breaking down what we might like. Due to video game influences we wanted one that showed up the most often in shooters. So we chose an assault rifle Luis pointed us to, a IMI Tavor TAR-21. Known for its use in Call of Duty. I laughed when I saw a pink colored version. They even have a WWII collection to try.

That's a lot of bullets on the floor.

As Luis told us, many people come in for two things, to try out the weapons they've see on TV and in games and to try before buy. You could think of it as Redbox, but for guns. 

After passing up on the power packing Magnums we settled on a M1911-style semi-automatic pistol in .45 ACP made by Kimber. The only real reason it was chose is because we thought it was funny as Hell that it was pink and had Hello Kitty on it. Pinky was right next to scorpion adorned guns for firing, that are probably better for picture taking. These were all special modded guns, just in look, not performance. Hello Kitty/Sanrio don't sell any official Hello Kitty guns.

Under strict California law they'll need at least one person's ID, as they tally what you'll be buying. Add another thumb print to that bill. So Luis than broke down cost for us and how much ammunition would cost. Our bill would have been around $60 for two people with use of a lane, a pistol and higher caliber gun, which goes for about $20 to rent. Smaller guns are around $5 to rent. The most expensive part of any undertaking is ammunition. Bullets aren't cheap and usually cost $18.95 a pack. Price varies, but there's a complete break down of cost on their website. Add safety gear: goggles, ear plugs and earmuffs. It's loud in the gun range!
*Two or more people are needed for all gun rentals (excludes solo firearm owners).

Now before we even go to go in the gun range. Luis walked and talked us through how to fire our guns. When I asked about safety, he told me to look around. Each newbie is taught how to use the guns they chose before firing. Now Luis, showed us than tested us with, of course, unarmed weapons. Checking every time to see if the gun was loaded before handing it to us. They don't want you getting hurt.

You'll than wait your turn for a lane to open up, so you might have as long as thirty to forty-five minutes, if it's busy. There's plenty of chairs, it's not a sportsman's lodge, but it's designed to get you in when your called.

After putting on your safety gear, like we did, you'll have a bucket of your gun/s and ammo to carry in. First a small separating area from lobby to gun range, then the actual range.

That's a lot of bullets on the floor. The first thing you might notice is not the bang bang, but the floor that has bullet casings all over it. They need to be sweeped up constantly, creating large piles of used ammo. I didn't bother asking if it got recycled, but there's enough generated it seems to make a Scrooge McDuck vault of the stuff to swim in.

After the casings you'll immediately notice how loud it is inside. You're wearing all that protective ear stuff for a reason. Guns are loud. Loud and powerful. Some of them being fired can be felt by just being in the vicinity. The pressure, you can actually feel someone else firing a gun next to you if it's a tough customer weapon.

What you might also notice is the couples. I saw a cute Asian couple firing away. It was sort of romantic for the guy to teach his lady the proper position to hold a gun. Them locking together to fire. After she hit on target they would hug. They weren't the only Asian couple seen, we saw parties of young Asians taking up guns and having fun taking pictures. Asking around, they are a very common customer of the place. Who knew the young Asian LA community was into it and it's a date spot?

The other noticeable site is how often you might see people in really nice suits. They look like they should be helping me invest in something rather than firing off shotguns.

Before using your weapon you'll put up your target. Up went or breast cancer awareness target in pink. You hook it up rather simply with some metal clamps and send it as far back as you want to fire.

You and your weapon. You now can load your gun as you were shown. You'll connect the cartridge or fill up the weapon and take off the safety. Then you'll will fill the power of your weapon in your hand.

Damn, Hello Kitty, you're powerful! Choom! Click, choom! Firing a pink pistol doesn't make it any less powerful. This pink pistol kicks back. I'm firing it, with both hands on the trigger. I'm a big guy, about 5'11 and well over 150 pounds and this gun is knocking my hands back after I fire. The real sensation of firing this adorable gun is that this thing kicks back.

My accuracy is terrible. When I am for the head with it after looking down the barrel of the gun and trying my best to fire with my right dominant eye I get my target in the mouth and the throat.  That was no where near where I was aiming.

We switch up the target, and with the rifle, that has a lovely scope with a green center on it, my accuracy goes way up. The rifle packs power, but now against my chest it seems like such less of a burden than the pistol. I kind of remember some old Stargate SG1 episodes as I fire the weapon. I wish they had some Goa'uld targets. This gun is so much easier than Hello Kitty. That kitten has kick.

It's fine to take your picture, but don't be stupid about it. Gun unloaded, and someone else takes it for you. Not a safe time to take a selfie. If you do anything that seems inappropriate the staff inside  he gun range area will tell you to stop it. Like the before mentioned holding a gun improperly while trying to take a selfie.

The smell is another part of it. It doesn't smell great inside. Firing the guns inside constantly makes it smell a bit like sulfur. Whenever you see someone in a comic or TV show like the smell of their guns, know they like the smell of farts.

It doesn't constantly smell like farts or I would have left, you get use to.

Watch your bullet casings. You'll want to step back and give whoever is firing the gun some room and watch your phone on taking photos. Bullet casings that become piled up on the floor usually fly out of the gun and can land anywhere.

No, freestyle endless shooting. Under California law nothing inside the LA Gun Club can really be automatic. Don't go in thinking you'll be able to fire a gun by holding down the trigger.

When done, we took most of our photos, made sure our guns were unloaded and gave'em back to the staff. 

Your bill will be calculated with a breakdown on it of all costs. On average for a customer who comes often the bill is about $100-$150. Newbies around $50 and $60, but it's all about options. Rubber bands are waiting for you to take your paper targets with you home to show off and keep as a memento. There are other mementos to get nearby.

You might be in awe of the merch. This store has a hole section devoted to t-shirts, hats and other apparel for you to show you visited. We love the hats, it's just a piece of apparel that works so well to show some local love or a nice memory of that time you shot a six-shooter.

Now your not going to find a better selection anywhere in LA. The LA Gun Club has the largest selection of different firearms to choose from in Los Angeles. There is no other range within miles, I heard the closes gun range was in Burbank. So you're well out of luck trying to go anywhere else in the nearby vicinity.

Parking is not the stores bullet proof vest or strong suit. It may be best to Uber or park at the restaurant valet lot nearby, like we did. It can also be easy to miss the first time coming, you'll want to be going down an alley.

The Los Angeles Gun Club made me want to stick to playing video games. My friend was in another house and now wants to go hunting. The Los Angeles Gun Club is a sight to see and a very different experience you might want to check out if only once to get a real sense of what it's like to fire a gun. It may not be something I enjoy, but none of it came from a poor experience. The staff was helpful, and I learned did not like joking around, except for gun pun-related humor. No one was half-cocked, but we all had a blast. Uggh, so bad..with the gun jokes. Safety was not a concern, but do remember people will pose and take photos with their guns, and if that makes you uneasy, simply don't go.

For those who want to a very memorable date, it might be something that blows away the competition and after you're adjacent to some nice restaurants and LA's nightlife. Try it out on Valentine's Day if you can mind the wait.

The LA Gun Club
1375 East 6th St
Los Angeles, CA 90021

Open Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday from 3:00pm – 11:00pm and Friday, Saturday, and Sunday from 11:00am – 11:00pm.

Thanks for all the staff for showing us around!