Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Two out of three ain't bad

According to some guidebooks, the three major pastimes of emirati men are firing, siring and aspiring. The National just did a big story on the heritage of firearms here in the UAE, and Time Out Abu Dhabi just did a small feature on how more emiratis (and anyone with a few dirhams) are trying to preserve this heritage at newly formed shooting clubs, so I... well... I decided to do some firing.

The officers' club is huge, remote and has a fancy little mosque.

The first trick was finding a cab driver to take me to the Armed Forces Officers' Club, which, it turns out, is all but off the island... maybe a half-kilometer from the southernmost bridge. It is sprawling, with all kinds of relaxation facilities (tennis courts, soccer fields, restaurants, a hotel, etc.) and the reason I was there, the Caracal Shooting Club.

When men were rajulons and the desert was untamed.

Caracal, it turns out, is one of the UAE's newest endeavors, a manufacturer of small arms. After convincing the staff that I wouldn't accidentally shoot one of my size 15s--the first time I had ever used my Illinois FOID card--they took me into the range area and slapped some protective ear and eyegear on me. First up was the Caracal 9mm. Squeeze the trigger slowly, I was told. Three boxes of ammunition later, I had also tried a Sig Sauer and Taurus 9mm pistols. And because I really WAS there for the heritage aspect of it, I shot a rifle, too.

My worst grouping with a .22 rifle. Stop laughing.

The Taurus was my last gun of the day, and easily my worst 50 shots. But right about the time I started that final box of ammo, a bunch of emiratis showed up and started to shred some targets themselves.

Dishdashas off, ear protectors on.

And finally, as I shot the Taurus, the range safety officer kindly took a few pictures of me. Here I am, practicing for a life feeding my family and fending off bandits in the desert:

Steady.... steaaady....

The cab driver, thanks to the 30 or so extra dirhams I tipped him, came back and picked me up right after I was done. And then it was back to real life.

Overall, a pricy (by UAE standards) morning's activity. I can't say that I feel a whole lot closer to the desert culture, but at least I know that if I'm ever stuck out in the Western Region with nothing but a .22 rifle and a box of ammunition, I can hit a smallish rock from 25 meters away. Perhaps the noise will scare away predators.

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