Chances are, if you watched any North American TV, you know that the good guys always have amazing weapons to shoot at bad guys- weapons you probably wanted to try out for yourself. Well, Cambodia, besides offering you every possible insect as a snack, is known for offering you every kind of weapon imaginable!
The 70’s Civil War left a mark on the country, and the 100,000-plus rifles collected by the Royal Cambodian Government are now stored in decrepit army barracks all over the country. All readily available to well-paying tourists. So, while your pocket-protector-sporting friends take a trip out to Angkor Wat, you can ride out to Phnom Penh’s Thunder Shooting Ranch run by Cambodia’s 911 Paratrooper Commandos. It’s located near the Royal Cambodian Army Barracks and almost every tuktuk and moto driver will know how to get you there.
Your menu of weapons is astounding; hung up on the walls are AK-47s, K50 Tommy Guns, Uzis, M16s, 12-gauge, semi-automatic combat shotguns, aka “trench cleaners”, light and heavy machine-guns, hand grenades, M79 grenade launchers, and shoulder-fired B40 RPGs. Oh, and guns, quite a lot of guns!
Though being readily available at shooting ranges domestically, they aren’t a popular choice among the tourists. While you wait your turn to play Rambo, grab a beer, sit back and enjoy the smell of burnt gun-powder, as the other tourists take their turns. Alcohol is already known to improve your dancing abilities and sex-appeal, so why wouldn’t it improve your accuracy with a gun as well?!
However if you want to try out something more destructive, like a hand-grenade or a Bazooka, be prepared to travel another 40 minutes to a more remote location. There, you can go nuts firing at old cars, targets set up in trees, and even live animals. For example, $5-$15 will get you a chicken as a target for your M50 sniper rifle, or for $300 you can shoot a cow from a rocket launcher.
Chances are, when you think of cows, you think of the majestic creatures that graze the fields, just waiting to give you their milk. And though you secretly want to tip them over as soon as it gets dark you don’t think of them as target practice. You probably also don’t want to shoot them, though some tourists want to do exactly that.
In 2001, Norodom Sihanouk, then King of Cambodia, made a public plea for the slaughter of animals to end on the nation’s shooting ranges. Not only did such practices hurt Cambodia’s reputation, but they were also opposed to the philosophy of the nation’s dominant religion: Buddhism. Since then a lot of the shooting ranges have closed and the killing of animals has gone underground.
Best Time To Go
You’re going to shoot some guns. When isn’t a good time?
Crocodile Dundee – This is an adventure. You’ll be in the middle of nowhere with a wad of cash, not being able to speak the language, surrounded by a few sketchy locals with some powerful guns. If all goes well, you will find yourself in a Rambo-esque situation where the whole cow-killing thing is actually a giant global conspiracy and to stay alive you will need to shoot your way out of the country surviving solely on the meat of your victims. Now that’s a story everyone will want to hear you tell!
It is not cheap, you will pay about $1 per bullet, which is about the cost of a domestic beer, or a dozen eggs. It’s alright if you’re firing 10 rounds from a pistol, but it gets pricey if you want to blast away with an M-60 or AK-47 on full automatic. 30 rounds from those babies can be fired off through a single pull of the trigger!
The prices for ammunition are non-negotiable; you get a menu of weapons and ammo prices when you get there, and you can shoot whatever your wallet allows. For example, thirty rounds for an AK47 or M16 cost $30, and 100 rounds for a US-made M60 light machine gun or a similar Russian-made K57 LMG cost $100. The M79 grenade costs $100 per shell and a B40 rocket propelled grenade costs $200.
It’s not a cheap experience, but where in your home-town can you get your hands on a rocket-launcher?
- Any one of the enterprising locals will hustle the tourists if they get the chance. So if they feel that you have the money, suddenly your minimum RPG purchase will be two. But remember, $100 is a lot of money in Cambodia, so don’t be afraid to play hardball and negotiate. It’s still worth it for the locals to take you to the bazooka range even if you plan to shoot only once, so stick to your guns to get what you want.
- While you can get to the range by tuktuk, you will enjoy the ride much more if you shell out for a taxi. The ride is very bumpy, and sitting for 40 minutes on a jackhammer will NOT put you in a good mood.
- The bazooka shooting range is about 40 minutes drive from the main shooting range… but it’s worth it!
- Oh, and one more thing, you’re handling weapons, so be careful, and use common sense
Read about some experiences here