Monday, March 19, 2012

City Square Shooting Gallery: My Date with Smith & Wesson

What do you do on a Friday night?

Well, while others are favoring the drinking holes and clubs in and around KL, I chose to do something a tad bit different this time.

It’s my 2nd half day Friday since my company (now Aker Solutions ;)), started the 4 ½ day program and I took the opportunity to make a beeline from Pavillion Towers located at the heart of KL to Segambut before the hordes of KL-ites head to their cars and clog its myriad roads!

Now, what am I doing in Segambut?

Well, I am off to City Square Shooting Gallery! :)
The main lobby at the shooting gallery

Now, this shooting gallery isn’t the same thing as you would find in some circus booth firing those spring loaded shooters that spew out lame rubber plugs, this is the REAL thing, that is REAL guns and REAL ammo.

Unlike the US, where they have the 2nd Amendment to the Constitution that legalizes the ‘right to bear arms’, in Malaysia, it is completely illegal to own a firearm without a license on pain of imprisonment (max 14 years), whipping (not less than 6 strokes) (Firearms (Increased Penalties) Act, 1971, Section 8) or even (gulp) DEATH (Internal Security Act 1960, Section 57)!

So with these types of punishments in mind, it’s no wonder shooting galleries here are a rarity if not completely unheard of.

Therefore it was quite a bit of luck that I stumbled upon this Groupon that offered a one session of Handgun Training for Two Persons (50 rounds) for a rather reasonable price of RM225. Having seen a few people putting up facebook photos of themselves firing handguns at other shooting galleries, I have asked and been told that you need to get a ‘membership’ to do so. And mind you, memberships don’t come cheap. I was informed by someone (namely Sharon Choong :p) that it could easily cost RM10,000+ to be a member at a certain shooting range in Subang and another hefty sum to maintain the membership annually. So for RM225 to get a ‘feel’ of shooting a handgun, I think it’s quite a steal!

Aside from the Groupon offer, City Square Shooting Gallery does offer ‘walk-in’ as well as ‘membership rates’. Member prices are about 40% cheaper than walk-in rates although you’d have to pay an initial RM2,000 membership application and RM600 annual fee (2012) first. For a walk-in session, the price would be around RM450, counting gun rental, booth rental, ammo and the expertise of an instructor. In all cases (including using the Groupon), you’d still need to have your background checked AND cleared by the Royal Malaysian Police (PDRM) before they allow you to hold a firearm. Expect 2-3 weeks for that to happen.

After contacting the gallery and stating my intention to redeem the Groupon, I was given an application form to fill as well as required information to submit for the background check (namely a Photostat copy of your identification card (I.C.)).

I was also asked to state my preferred time slot to do the shooting although you do have to take into account the 2-3 weeks vetting process when you want to choose your date with the Smith & Wesson. ;) City Square Shooting Gallery is open everyday except Tuesdays and Public Holidays.
City Square Shooting Gallery's Operating Hours

After a two week wait, I was contacted by the Shooting Gallery and our date is set. :)

Arriving at the gallery for the 6:30pm appointment, I was met by their friendly staff (who incidentally works as a bodyguard) who passed me another form to fill prior to the start of training. You’d have to pass your IC to them to verify you are whom the Police have cleared from being some kind of criminal or Al Qaeda terrorist. :p

Some video footage of firearms training in the US to wet your appetite while you wait for your partner. If reading is more of your forte, racks filled with Gun Magazines are available as well... ;)

When my pard’ner arrived (Janice Khoo), it’s off to the training room for our briefing on how to properly use a firearm.

For our Friday session, we were joined by 3 other people making a rather cosy group of 5. I am told however, for weekends, the sessions could be filled to the brim especially when some companies choose to spend their annual ‘Family Day’ allocations on sending their staff for firearms training instead of the traditional picnic and egg on spoon balancing telematch in Lake Titiwangsa (don’t ask me why, I am figuring it out myself)! That would be in the area of about 20-30 people per session.

The initial briefing session was conducted by Mr. Von (that’s actually his ‘middle’ name), who gave us detailed instructions on the proper ways to hold, aim and fire a weapon. Emphasis is placed on safety of course, where we are repeatedly told NEVER to treat a firearm, even an unloaded one as a toy and point around people other than your intended target.

After the oral training session is complete and sufficient questions answered, it’s time for the REAL deal… life fire exercise! :)

The moment we have all been waiting for! :D

For beginners, discharging your weapon is done in a shooting booth under the supervision and guidance of an instructor. Mr. Clemen assisted us on this part of the exercise, while Mr. Von watched over the other group of 3.
The REAL thing... ;)

We were provided with a Smith & Wesson M&P9L which fires 9 x 19mm Parabellum rounds. Other models of firearms are available such as the Glock 17 and the CZ competition models, although you don’t have the luxury to choose if you are using your Groupon. :p
My 'date' for the night: Smith & Wesson M&P9L

Contrary to my expectations, I found the S&W lighter than I expected. But that does not mean firing it would be easy. As a matter of fact, I was told the heavier your firearm, the less the effect of recoil.

The 50 rounds shared between Janice and myself is more than adequate for me. Don’t dream about going ‘Rambo’ because firing a gun is tiring business! This is because aside from having to manage the recoil, you’d also be straining your muscles just trying to maintain the proper stance and aim to get a good shot. Of course with enough practice (and generous amounts of money), you’d be discharging shots like those guys in Discovery’s ‘Top Shot’. :p ;) For now, being a beginner, I’d advise that you guys TAKE YOUR TIME to discharge your weapon, those ‘angry’ looking soldier targets with em’ brandished bayonets ain’t reaching you anytime soon.
Charge! The angry looking soldier whom you're gonna pepper him with 9mm lead... :p ;)

A note on the shooter’s physical size for those ‘concerned’ ;). You don’t need to be a ‘hulk’ like George Reinas from Top Shot Season 2 fame to shoot accurately. Despite concerns on the force from the recoil of the weapon, I was informed that small children are also able to handle the S&W. My partner, Janice shot better than me despite only weighing about 40kgs. ;)

Don't let her dimunitive frame fool you, she is quite a mean shot!

Firing is done at ranges of 5 meters, 10 meters and 13 meters on stationery paper targets with ten rounds each spent on the 5 meter and 10 meter ranges and the last 5 rounds used for the 13 meter distance.

At the end of each range session, the target is taken down and marked by the instructor before putting it up again for the next range. Needless to say it gets harder to hit your target as the range increases.

Wearing ear muffs and eye glasses are mandatory. The ear muffs were obviously provided to protect your ears from the loud noise of a discharging weapon but the eye glasses were an initial enigma to me until one of the spent cartridges leapt out of the breech and struck it when I was firing a round! Whew!

The sound of a discharging firearm is also quite different from what you’d hear in the movies, more of a ‘snap’ than a ‘boom’. Maybe it’s because I am using a lower caliber weapon?

With one final whiff of cordite, my shooting session finally ended when I fired my last 9mm round at the 13m target. Thereafter, it was time for a few customary group photos with my instructors and another one with my ‘poor’ target. And yes, you can bring your multiply punctured target home for you to do whatever you want. :)
Group photo, Mr. Clemen is 2nd from right... :)

With Mr. Von, the instructor that gave us our oral briefing...

What you better not bring back are the bullet casings that might be littering the floor between your feet. Spent casings they may be, they are still against Malaysian law to possess it and you can get into very big trouble if the authorities catch you with it. :p

Spent Casings... make sure you are not tempted to bring them home... :p

On leaving, we had one final briefing, that on membership and other avenues to further explore the sport of competition shooting from the owner of the gallery, Kelvin Lee, who himself is a professional shooter and lead instructor.

Apparently, there are competitions here in Malaysia, mostly participated by members of the armed forces (Army, Navy and Air Force) and PDRM as well as a few private citizens. Don’t expect BIG prizes to recoup your about RM600 – RM1000 participation fee (which covers gun rental, ammo, equipment, lodging and such); I am told by Mr. Lee that the only prize you get is the ‘satisfaction’ of beating PASKAL, PASKAU, UTK or Commando members at their own game. ;)

The PRO, firing the S&W with one hand...

And so, ends one more otherwise regular Friday night for this ‘quantum singularity’. ;) Having so much fun, this will definitely not be my last time visiting City Square Shooting Gallery, as what our friend and former California Governor (Arnold Schwarzenegger) would say… “I’ll be back!”. :)

The next Top Shot? ;) Hahaha! Lots more practice required!

For more information, you may contact the City Square Shooting Gallery at:-

City Square Shooting Gallery
9th Floor, Menara TKSS
206, Jalan Segambut
51200 Kuala Lumpur
Wilayah Persekutuan
Tel- 603 - 6257 8975
Fax-603 - 6257 7890
GPS coordinates - N03° 10' 56.6" E101° 40' 35.9"

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  1. Hello how does this shooting work? And how much do i pay to come and learn how to shoot?

  2. hello,i need to know about the payment.please let me that i need the gun licence to join the club,if yes how do i have to apply for it?

    1. You don't need a gun license. However your details will be vetted by the police via the company prior to you beginning the session.