Dubai: Shooting off a gun triggers a serious adrenaline rush that makes you think only of yourself and what you need to hit.
It’s a highly popular pastime in the UAE — like going to the driving range to hit a few golf balls with friends. The UAE’s only Olympic gold came in shooting, with Shaikh Ahmad Mohammad Bin Hasher Al Maktoum putting the sport on the map.
It’s fun, competitive and takes a lot of concentration — that’s why people like it.
With a bit of money and a passport, anyone can go shoot a gun at any certified club. The Jebel Ali Shooting Club has roughly 150 members and 60 to 70 people coming in to shoot each week. There are other clubs across Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Al Ain, Sharjah and the northern emirates.
David Mascarenhas is an instructor at the Jebel Ali club and has been working there for 12 years — and like many others in the region, Mascarenhas has had an interest in shooting guns as long as he can remember.
Shooting off a gun is a form of celebration in Arab culture. Shots into the air at weddings used to happen all the time. Now the practice is illegal and potentially lethal.
To shoot at a club, all you need is your national identity card or passport — details of which are recorded and scanned — your photograph taken and an all-important waiver signed. Once the formalities are complete, it’s down to business. But protective glasses, a vest and ear muffs are a must.
Safety is paramount at all time — even the way you carry a gun was also important. Mascarenhas carries a 9mm Czech-made semi-automatic pistol to the indoor range with it held in his hand and aimed skywards — even though its magazine clip has no ammunition in it.
“The clip should always be out when you carry it,” Mascarenhas said.
The clip on the 9mm holds 16 bullets but because the indoor range is under renovation, the pistol can’t be fired.
Outside, Mascarenhas carries a Beretta shotgun with the loading port open and the gun resting on his shoulder.
Most people coming into Jebel Ali Shooting Club are tourists from around the world and corporate packages for the shooting range are also a popular choice.
To become proficient in the shooting range, it is normal to come in twice a week.
“Always focus on what you are doing, looking at the target,” Mascarenhas said.
For the people looking to relax and blow off some steam at the shooting range, it most likely won’t work — you need to focus.
While anyone can learn to shoot, firearm licenses to own and possess certain categories of weapons can only be held by UAE nationals.
— The writer is an intern at Gulf News