Earlier I talked about my time at Gamestop Expo in Vegas, but now I want to talk about something else I did in Vegas: shoot guns. I have shot guns before, but this was a new experience for me as for they are guns I haven't shot before as well as this was my first time shooting automatic. I want to talk about my experience with shooting these guns and how they compare to video games, but I won't be comparing each gun I shot to the weapon used in any certain game. I want this article to enlighten others about the reality of shooting guns in real life versus virtually.
In Vegas, I shot three weapons: the Dragunov SVD, the UMP 45, and the Scar. The UMP and the Scar came equipped with a foregrip and sights, while the Dragunov only came with the scope. I got to shoot five rounds of the Dragunov, twenty-five rounds of the Scar, and fifty rounds of the UMP.
Before I get into my experience, I just want a bit more clarification on this article, as for I don't want it labeled as something else. Anyone with common sense knows that video game shooting and real shooting are different. I don't want this to be me trying to prove that they are different. I also don't want to get into my opinion of a weapons ban. I just want people who haven't shot a gun before to know the real experience.
Anyways, the first gun I shot was the sniper. Before shooting it though, the range gave me earmuffs and glasses for protection(of course), but that protection can only go so far. Before the range, I shot a pistol out in the desert. That time, I didn't have ear protection, so I know what it is like to shoot without it. The shot is so loud that you hear a ringing in your ears and go temporarily deaf, only hearing muffles instead of voices. So this time, earmuffs are definitely appreciated. But the gunshot is so loud, that the noise pierces through the earmuffs. The earmuffs prevented my ears from ringing,but I could still hear the gunshot quite well.
The gun itself probably weighed around ten to twelve pounds(just a guess), but it was never burdening. Looking down the sights was to me, as for I couldn't compare it to any other game really. The scope is smaller and darker than expected, but I could still see the target magnified. When I pulled the trigger, I could hear the loud gunshot and feel the gun kick into my shoulder. A mixture of that kick plus my heart beating from nervousness of screwing up felt exhilarating, and it made me want to start shooting again. But I stopped myself and assessed where my bullet landed so then I could judge how to accurately shoot. Despite knowing that my bullets are landing lower than where I am aiming, I started shooting anyways. It wasn't long before I ran out of bullets, and I had to move on to the next weapon; the UMP.
The instructor pulled the target closer, and let me fire away. But this time, I got to shoot automatic. I totally thought I could just hold that trigger and go through that clip, but then reality came into place. The gun kicked less than the sniper, but holding the trigger was still hard to handle. I probably could have held down that trigger the whole time while still aiming in the general direction, but man was I inaccurate. And it really isn't like in games where the gun kicks up slightly, so you aim down more to keep it level. The only way to bring your gun back to aiming level is to let go of the trigger. Granted, lots of experience will most likely allow better control of that, but it was still quite difficult to tame that gun once you shoot it consecutively. So in the end, I was doing bursts of that gun. And again, it wasn't long before I ran out and went on to the final weapon; the Scar.
The Scar was a similar experience to the UMP, but it still had some differences. All of the weapons weighed around the same in my opinion, but this one still weighed slightly more than the UMP. The gun fired faster ,kicked a bit harder, and was a bit longer than the UMP, but the experience still felt the same.
I remember an article that came out of the New York Daily News and was written by Gersh Kuntzman in which he talked about his experience with shooting a gun. But his point of view on shooting an automatic weapon includes him getting slight PTSD and being disoriented from shell casing flying in front of his face(despite the shells actually going away from the face.) I thought about this article while writing this, and I really tried to not sound like him. He is not wrong in his belief that shooting a gun has a big expectation and reality gap, but him saying that he got a slight version of what real soldiers sometimes get is childish and wrong in my opinion. While my experience may sound like I think guns are big scary monsters, I actually found my experience with them fun. I walked in thinking that the experience of video games versus reality is different, and I walked out thinking that the difference is larger than I originally thought. The shot is deafening without earmuffs, the smell is slightly more sulfuric than normal(of course), the kick of the gun doesn't hurt but still feels like a soft punch to your shoulder, and control of the weapon is a lot harder than it seems.
The experience of shooting these guns did a couple of things for me. First, it gave me a better appreciation of the men and women who risk their lives for our country. I won't say that shooting a gun makes you a hero, but it was something else that shows that being in the military isn't what you see in the movies or in games. And second, it gave me a new perspective on games. I have always known that shooting virtually and physically are different. But their is no way of knowing how big that difference is without actually shooting. I know that games and movies have to make differences for entertainment sake, but I still think that the difference gap is still too large. I am not going to say I enjoy games less because of this, but it was still a new perspective nonetheless.
In the end, I would say that shooting a gun isn't a traumatizing experience, but an exhilarating one. It is an experience that gives a new understanding on what a gun really is and is one that can't be imitated by entertainment. Guns are not for everyone; but I think that even people who don't like guns should give it a try just so then they have no assumptions of what it really does. Even with this blog, I can't fully describe what it is like,all I can say is to try it out for yourself.
Here is the New York Daily News article:http://www.nydailynews.com/news/crime/firing-ar-15-horrifying-dangerous-loud-article-1.2673201