One might have read several pages of reviews on Krakow’s vivacious night life, strip clubs and palaces. But there is an unexpected attraction in Krakow that is less spoken of and yet is a must-try!
An unexpected attraction
This August, on my second trip to Europe, I decided to visit Krakow in Poland – both because I wanted to experience the much-written-about night life as well as because of its proximity to Auschwitz-Birkenau (the horrifying reminder of the Holocaust) which I wanted to visit. And it was at the reception of my hostel where I was picking the receptionist’s brains for planning my itinerary that I came across a tiny sticker on the desk that had an image of a guy at a shooting range. I immediately asked the receptionist and she explained that it is a package that offers one to shoot a range of weapons at a shooting range at the edge of the city. For a guy fascinated with firearms but never held one in his arms (except imitating the Hollywood gunfight scenes with an umbrella), I was salivating by the time she finished explaining what the package entails. So I paid 200 Zloty in cash and she picked up the phone to make a reservation for me for the next day.
Three guns and a target
The intervening night seemed too long and I spent it praying for the morning sun to appear at the earliest. At the break of dawn, I sprang out of my bed, finished my morning routine, had my breakfast and headed to the pickup point at Rynek Glowny – the main square in the city – a full hour and half ahead of the appointed time, unable to contain my eagerness for the moment to begin. And right at the appointed time, the pick-up driver arrived at the spot and asked me to hop in into his non-descript minivan. We rode for about 20 mins passing through the main thoroughfares until we cut onto the highway headed out of the city. A short while later, we slid off the highway into a private driveway with thick vegetation on both sides, that took us into the shooting range. As we parked and stepped out of the car, the driver took me to a corner of the wooden garage and introduced me to the instructor by the name Alex. Once we stepped in, I found at least 20-25 different guns on the opposite wall, hanging like trophies in one’s living room. Alex read out the names of weapons on display while I marvelled at their variety – Glock, Kalashnikov, Sig Sauer, Uzi, Heckler & Koch, Colt, Smith & Wesson – every make that I ever read of in the various spy novels. As part of my package I was given a choice of 3 weapons and I chose the AK47, Uzi and Glock. After listening to his instructions on how to handle the weapons, I put on the goggles and ear muffs and Alex finally put the loaded Glock in my hand. With a wave of adrenaline rushing through me, I looked through the sight of the Glock and gently squeezed the trigger to take my first shot at a target sheet placed some 30 meters away in the backyard from the shooting bay. I fired my 10 rounds and realised I hit the target not even once. Alex looked at the disappointment in my face and before handing the next weapon – the AK47 – helped me to adjust my posture and rest the weapon’s butt on my shoulder without hurting myself due to the recoil. This time I fared better. Well, at least I managed to shoot one round on corner of the target sheet, though completely missing the guy on it. With the Uzi however, I felt far more in control. It weighed lighter than the AK and also seemed far easier to handle with its compact size. With the Uzi I fired 9 out of the 10 rounds into the guy on the target sheet. This time Alex looked at me a tad amazed and I brushed it off saying it must have been beginner’s luck!
At the end, I thoroughly enjoyed the experience of firing live rounds from some of the most famous weapons in the world that I never imagined I would ever be able to do. Alex gave me the target sheet as a memoir to keep and I thanked him for it. And with the target sheet as proof of my “marksmanship”, I headed back to the hostel imagining of ways to narrate this exciting experience to my wife!
Being a travel lover, I thought of sharing some of my not-so-common experiences so that more people can enjoy the same. Do let me know if you find this post interesting and leave your opinions in the ‘Comments’ section.