The day after touring Chernobyl was our opportunity to shoot the legendary AK-47, an M16, and other military grade guns.
We almost missed our ride to the gun range too. We originally thought the tour was supposed to depart from the hostel, but it turned out the departure point was some 12 km away.
We could either take a taxi and be unsure of whether the taxi would be legit, or take the metro and have to watch out for pick pockets. Metro it was. It only costed us 2 UAH (equivalent of about 25 cents) per way. That made it the cheapest metro I’ve ever been on.
Our instructions were to meet him at a gas station by the metro station (which sounded super weird to me). We arrived at the gas station, but didn’t see the guy and wondered where the guy could be. For a bit I thought we weren’t going to make it to the gun tour.
We figured we’d ask the gas station attendant to borrow his phone. He didn’t speak English. It was only after a bit of charades were we able to call the hostel. At least the attendant being super helpful. We joked that the two Chinese guys asking him for help in the middle of nowhere (see below) in Kiev was the most interesting part of his day. We tried to tip him, but he politely declined.
The tour driver eventually arrives late and knocks on the window to signal us. The driver came in his own car and it was just a four seater. Looks like we’re the only ones going on the gun tour (sounds legit right?). He asked me if we were going to the shooting tour and so I said yes and off we went. Luckily he asked first, which showed that he was here for this purpose, which supported that the tour was legit and we weren’t going to get robbed or anything.
This guy’s car didn’t have seat belts. And because he was late, he drove way past the speed limit, and swerved through everyone. Despite that, I still felt quite self as he had really good control of his car. At least his car had suspensions unlike the Chernobyl tour van. Ten minutes later, we arrived at the gun range.
We fired a pistol to start off with first. Then it was what we came for. The AK-47.
The tour originally advertised firing an AK in automatic mode as well as shooting a Dragunov sniper, but instead of doing that we fired the AK in semiautomatic mode and shot a Mosin Nagant and a shotgun with a red dot sight. The kickback on these guns were way more than I expected. It felt like the whole gun flew back two inches. And I learned I’m not a very good shot. I also learned that the shotgun doesn’t have a lot of recoil and that it doesn’t take much effort to ready the next shot, unlike loading the next bullet on the bolt action rifle.
Between each clip, the guy at the gun range would ask us to go down range to retrieve our targets. I thought it was so weird that he’d make us do that. Each time I walked down, I made sure there was no one shooting. Luckily, they do care about safety and all was well.
Shooting these types of guns is something I’ve always wanted to do, but never could since these military grade weapons are common in Vancouver. It was definitely super fun and exciting.
On the way back, the tour guide drove at the same ridiculous speeds, and along the way he honked down a bus. We all got out of the car and he gave us each a USSR army canteen as a gift. Then he says, “you get off here and take this bus. It will take you back to the same metro station”.
It happened so suddenly, we had no idea what had just happened. He paid for our bus fare and he was gone. Being tourists, we had no idea how their bus system worked. We couldn’t even read the name of the metro station because it was all in Cyrillic. He could have screwed us over easily.
The bus was yellow and was the oldest piece of junk I’ve ever ridden in. But it got us back to the metro station and that’s all we cared about. If it had broken down, we would have been so screwed. After this experience, I wondered to myself why I did all those things despite such sketchiness. Still, all went well and now we have a good story to tell.