What it’s like firing a gun for the first time

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Inside Solaire is Sky Range, an exclusive indoor firing range with shooting galleries that look like they were made for a James Bond set. Photo by JL JAVIER

Manila (CNN Philippines Life) — I held a Glock 17 in my hand — an actuality that never crossed my mind and only harbored in my Fallout 4 (or Lara Croft) fantasies. The gun was cold, an impassive instrument of destruction in the hands of the wrong person. But in my clammy grip — my hands slightly trembling from my pretension of bravery — the gun was a weapon to demonstrate sheer force of will, because being in this firing range was, to some extent, a result of a joke and a dare I thrust on myself upon getting the invite to try Solaire’s Sky Range.

The inside is cold; it is, after all, a facility that boasts to be a one-of-a-kind indoor shooting range in all of the country. On a calm Monday morning, this sprawling, 2,500-square-meter space could have passed for any other luxury facility. The telltale signs were the gleaming guns encased in glass that greet you upon your entrance, and the shooting galleries that look like they were made for a James Bond set.

Sky Range A glass case holds the assortment of guns in Sky Range for use of members and guests. Photo by JL JAVIER

Sky Range The viewing lounge. Guests who aren't firing guns are not allowed inside the shooting bays. Photo by JL JAVIER

Sky Range Members can also ask Sky Range to keep their own guns — provided they have the license to carry — in their lockers. Photo by JL JAVIER

Sky Range Sky Range has two shooting bays, one of which is a 15-lane, 25-meter long pistol area. Photo by JL JAVIER  

We were shown the array of guns that the facility carries. Starters are recommended Glock 17s since they are easier to use, with less recoil. There’s the Beretta if you’re feeling more like a mafia movie villain, and double barrel shotguns if you think you can take a more powerful recoil. In Fallout 4, my choice of weapons were high-powered guns that could probably shake my diminutive frame if I used them in real life. So I chose the Glock 17 instead and a small pistol for later.

A range officer gave a five- to ten-minute briefing before entering the shooting gallery itself. Safety measures are reminded — do’s and dont’s, what to wear, and what to avoid (like open-toed footwear since shells might burn your foot) — and reiterated. The facility, designed by the top-tier company Action Target, is state-of-the-art. An exhaust takes out all the lead and fumes after firing, and walls are equipped with ballistic plates. For shorter range firearms, there is a 15-lane 25-meter shooting bay; and a five-lane 50-meter shooting bay for longer ranges. If you want to feel like a legit action star, lanes can be cleared and targets can be placed so you can roll and shoot like Lito Lapid versus the denim-clad goons.

Holding a gun imbues a sort of different power. But in such a safe environment — where there are equipment to help you fire a gun as pain-free as possible — it boils down to a sport or wish-fulfillment, the latter in my case. The pistol was harder to aim at the target paper. I missed the bullseye by a few inches. But the pistol, lighter and easier to use, was a good match for my hands. It was loaded with only a few bullets so each time cylinder rotates, my heart pounds in the anticipation of whether a bullet will be fired or not.

Afterward, the gourmet cafe's hearty roast beef "revolver" sandwich (the names of the food in the menu are gun-themed) and a serving of spicy chicken with java rice (called "Chick'in the Chamber") helped calm my veins pumped with adrenaline.

Shooting ranges can be therapeutic, just like the joy of hammering on a PlayStation controller when you’re shooting baddies on a video game. Firing a gun for the first time was exhilarating, a promise of power if you use it responsibly. But my dreams of being a gun-slinging hero will always stay in the realm of fantasy. At least, for now.

Sky Range For longer range weapons, guests and members use the 5-lane, 50-meter long rifle shooting bay. Photo by JL JAVIER

Sky Range Amenities such as a conference room and a shower and locker room are available for exclusive use by members. Photo by JL JAVIER  

Sky Range Sky Range also has a gourmet cafe, serving dishes such as spicy chicken with java rice. Photo by JL JAVIER  

Sky Range Roast beef revolver sandwich and churros ala mode. Photos by JL JAVIER  

Sky Range is located at 12 Mezzanine Floor, Theatre Car Park, Solaire Resort and Casino, 1 Asean Ave., Brgy. Tambo, Paranaque. Visit the official website for reservation, rates, and membership inquiries.