With 10 shooting lanes, eight-inch concrete walls lined with steel plates, high-end bullet traps, and a dual-air system for a cool and fresh atmosphere, Machine Gun America may just seem like a luxury gun range, but its owners say otherwise. Instead, the facility is touted as Orlando’s first “Automatic Adrenaline Attraction” and will be opening its doors on Saturday. Racks of AK rifles, Thompson submachine guns, and the iconic Uzi are offered to visitors to try out, along with other automatic weapons that are difficult to find or obtain.
“This is unlike any other experience in the country. The live shooting experiences will include themed packages featuring some of the most famous firearms from around the world,” said the facility’s safety and training director, Wes Doss, in a press release.
Machine Gun America’s owners say that it is not a gun range per se because visitors are not allowed to bring their own firearms. That is not to mean that attraction is not for gun owners, in fact the company expects that many of its guests will be shooting enthusiasts who want to experience firing classic or expensive firearms.
“We’ve had people who have never touched a firearm in their life, and then we have people who are aficionados,” general manager Bruce Nierenberg told the New York Daily News regarding pre-opening guests.
“MGA provides the excitement of a machine gun shoot akin to the Los Vegas facilities, but with a twist,” Doss told OutdoorHub. “The ranges are overbuilt and the number-one concern for our staff is safety. What it can offer people, whether they are enthusiasts or just curious, is the experience of trying out a collection of museum-quality pieces that go from World War One to our current generation of modern firearms.”
The weapons at the facility have been separated into different “themes,” such as the infamous firearms used by mafia enforcers in “Gangster Land,” the guns that won the West in “Western Shootout,” and the weapons best loved by Hollywood in “Big Screen Legends.” Guests can also indulge in a bit of virtual gun play with immersion simulators that can accommodate four people at once.
“Train like the professionals in the military-grade simulators that look and feel like real live action, but are not,” stated the company. “Using leading technology, firearms are converted for simulator use so that guests can experience the thrill, sound and kick like the real thing—but they are just lasers hitting virtual targets.”
It is a different story with the actual firing range, where guests will be handling a variety of semiautomatic and automatic guns. Safety is a very big concern for the facility, and regardless of firearm experience, each shooter is assisted by their own range safety officer or instructor. Children as young as 13 will be able to enter the range, although there are some restrictions on which weapons they will be allowed to handle and a parent must be present.
Machine Gun America’s location in Orlando’s Old Town Amusement Center, roughly six miles away from Disney World, drew both interest and some criticism.
“It’s simply further evidence of an out-of-control gun culture that prioritizes the fetishization of weapons over human life itself,” Ladd Everitt, director of communications for the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence, told The News.
Nierenberg, however, says it is about offering guests a unique experience and imparting a piece of American history.
“There are very few things that have had a greater impact on American life as far as us winning our freedom and the ability to bear arms. And I think it’s a very important part of our history,” he told WOFL.
Note added 12/22/2014: This article has been updated with a quote from Wes Doss.
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