The Washington Free Beacon’s Stephen Gutowski went to Florida last week, but he wasn’t going to Disney World. He wasn’t going to the attractions there; he was going to shoot machine guns.
Machine Gun America is a 13,000 square foot, two-level shooting range that allows you to–you guessed it–fire fully automatic weapons. It opened to the public last month, and it appears Gutowski had a lot of fun at the range. Yet, Machine Gun America is a rental-only gun range. You’re not allowed to bring your own firearms and ammunition. For shooters who are too young, or scared, to handle fully automatic weapons, Machine Gun America offers a simulator, which Gutowski wrote is “like a grown up Duck Hunt:”
I was able to spend time reviewing the MP5, M4 carbine, AK-47, Walther PPK/S, Glock 17, HK USP, Remington R1 1911, and Taurus Raging Bull 454. Reviewing with extreme excitement.
“We’re assuming that the vast majority of people that will walk through the door have no experience,” MGA safety and training director Wes Doss said. “This needs to be, and always stay, as open, warm, and friendly as we can make it.”
Doss has a combined 30 years of experience in military, law enforcement, and civilian firearms training. He helped design MGA’s facilities, shooting experiences, and operating procedures from the ground up with novice shooters in mind. A justified approach for any facility trying to provide the general public with a fun but safe shooting experience, even more so if there’s fully automatic fire involved.
“The idea is that everybody come in and have a really positive experience,” Doss said, “a fun experience.” He added that MGA’s operating procedures are designed so that they “never lose that grasp of safety.”
The dedication to safety was plainly evident during my time at MGA. Every single customer is supervised by a NRA certified range safety officer in a one-on-one setting while they’re firing any of the guns. The range safety officer is the only one who handles the gun except for the actual time the customer is firing it. And even for those moments the range safety officer is quite literally standing over their shoulder guiding them in the safe operation of the firearm. If necessary, they will even help to physically brace the customer in order to better control recoil.
Assistant director of range operations Natasha Schweitzer, who oversaw my shooting, reiterated the same point. “It’s up to the range safety officer’s discretion if they want to run the customer on these firearms or not,” she said. “If any of my range safety officers feel that they can’t handle it they’ll advise with the customer, try to find a firearm that fits a little bit better with their need.”
With experiences starting at under $200 the average American can likely afford to fulfill that duty. Given that our complicated and incredibly restrictive federal gun laws have made fully automatic firearms extremely difficult to own, the pricing seems even more reasonable. And, since MGA also helps train law enforcement, they enjoy a unique legal standing that allows them to buy and rent machine guns the average civilian can’t get their hands on.
It sounds like the perfect trip; shoot some machine guns and then go on the Incredible Hulk rollercoaster.