Thursday, 13th August 2020

Paul Spencer Sochaczewski

Uzi Fever

Posted on 25. Jun, 2010 by in Articles, Curious Travel

Letting the macho urges go out with a bang in Cambodia

PHNOM PENH, Cambodia

In this uncertain world of drive-by killings, high school massacres and gonzo postal workers, is there nowhere a guy can go to blast an Uzi for fun without being labeled a politically-incorrect barbarian?

Well, there’s always Cambodia, where Taiwanese entrepreneur Victor Chao has set up one of the country’s two public shooting ranges a few minutes from Phnom Penh airport and around the corner from a new golf course.  Since 1996 he’s invested some US$900,000 in the 45 bay, five-hectare facility which he has named the Marksmen Club-Eagle Force Headquarters.

Mr. Chao, 48, showed me the weapons I could shoot.  He has Uzis and M16s, Smith and Wesson pistols and Al Capone-like machine guns.

You rent the gun of your choice and pay for ammo.  If you’re heavy on the trigger things can get expensive.

“Let’s start with this baby,” I said, hefting a Dragonov, a Russian sniper rifle.   My voice took on a Sylvester Stallone-like quality.

“That’s not a good shirt, is it?”

“Powder marks?”

Mr. Chao nodded.  “Tough to get out.”

“Okay Victor, show me how this thing works.”

Zap, bam, wham.  Getting into the groove, I reached for a London Scorpion, a cold war-era, British designed .32 pistol with a folding stock, later manufactured by the Czechs for special forces worldwide.  I felt mildly James Bondish.

So, what’s the attraction?

Modern social analyst Dave Barry put it like this:

“Women often ask, ‘what do men REALLY want, deep in their souls?’

“The best answer – based on in-depth analysis of the complex and subtle interplay of thought, instinct and emotion that constitutes the male psyche – is that deep in their souls, men want to watch stuff go ‘bang.’”

Mr. Barry was talking about Car Bowling, in which low-flying pilots drop bowling balls on cars parked on the runways of (hopefully) little-used private airstrips.

Now I’ve never had the pleasure of playing Car Bowling but I’ve always had a hankering to play Rambo.  Not for real, you understand.  Just enough to smell the gunpowder and ruin my hearing for a day.

“It is true that when you rent the grenade launcher you get a cow to shoot at?” I asked.

“Ah, I’ve heard that story as well,” Mr. Chao replied.  “But I don’t do that. If you want to shoot a grenade into a cow you’ll have to go to Phnom Penh’s other shooting range.  It’s run by the military.”

“Then let me try the Glock.”

Is this joy at making loud noises at all Freudian? Maybe.

Does this have a redeeming social value? Come on, this is guy talk.

Is it fun?  Sure is.

And shooting ranges are popular around the world. Mr. Chao got the idea for his facility after visiting popular legal shooting ranges in Hawaii.

Did it make me want to commit public mayhem?

Not at all, but that’s a fear of Cambodia’s officials who threaten to close the Marksmen Club-Eagle Force Headquarters, which hosts some 6,000 customers annually.  Writing in the Cambodia Daily, Mr. Chao defended his operation. “Kidnappers are not among our customers;” he wrote. “Our customers are tourists, businessmen, fairly wealthy people who are actually victims of crime.”

I invited my friend Monique to have a go. Mr. Chao nodded approval. “Women shoot better than men,” he said. “Men are too busy pretending they’re John Wayne and Clint Eastwood to shoot straight.  Women just focus on the task.”

I offered Monique the AK-47.

“Not interested,” she said.

“Come on,” I urged. “You’ll regret it if you don’t.”

To please me (or shut me up) she gingerly hoisted the weapon. She fired one shot and carefully put down the automatic.

“That’s it?” I asked.

“One’s enough,” she answered. “Can we have lunch now?”

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