Where in Shanghai can one shoot a gun? was a question that was randomly on our mind last Sunday evening. A quick search on SmartShanghai and we found our answer: East Shanghai Shooting & Archery Club. Next thing I knew I was on the back of Tori’s scooter and we were gliding down under the lilac freeway, me directing vaguely from the GPS until I gave up (GPS kills spontaneity and what’s the fun if you don’t get lost?!)
20 minutes later we pulled up by a neon flickering SH OTING R NGE. In the dark parking lot were figures twirling to upbeat romantic tunes playing from an old cassette player on the ground. Chinese folk-dancing. You can’t help smiling…
The club is underground. For 99 RMB (£10) the entire place was ours for two hours. Just remember to take your i-d.
Below in the waiting room a guy retrieved a shotgun from behind bars, where the anonymous gun-dispenser sat with his face shrouded in a macho aura of cheap cigarette smoke. Casually, the gunman strolled upstairs with the shotgun under his arm, to where the shots were firing (each one making me jump involuntarily).
For us, the handguns were already waiting for us, nestled in dirty velvet cushions.
A Chinese guy stood next to me saying incomprehensible things; this was a delightfully helpless combination of him not speaking any English, and of me wearing soundproof earmuffs and not speaking any Chinese (have to admit after almost eight months here, this is becoming slightly embarrassing).
Every few minutes the delayed boom of a shot fire would ricochet sharply across the black acoustics and slash the silence like a whip. The guy next to me gestured to the focus ring and pulled me back with a forceful tug. I noticed the floor was littered with glinting gold gun pellets, and saw how strange the paper targets looked when they were reeled in on their noisy runners… then my mind backtracked to a time when I accidentally set off a party popper in my friend’s eye… err why did I think I could be trusted with a gun again?? I tried to focus my wandering eyes and mind.
I shot. PPPOWWWWW!!! The air immediately in front of me filled with silvery blue gun smoke and the paper man fluttered ghostly for a second with the impact.
I looked to the right, the guy was bored senseless. The gunshots didn’t move him, he didn’t even blink. He just took another drag on his cigarette.
I got ten shots. POW. POW. POW. And then it was Tori’s go.
We also did archery. This is us doing our best Robin Hood/ Hunger Games impressions…
But in typical Chinese fashion, of course you don’t just go to a shooting gallery to shoot, you sing KTV (karaoke), you beat the hell out of plastic bunnies in games of hammer-the-bunny, you play mah-jong, poker, chess, PCgames, and finally lie flat out in massage chairs…
We skipped most rooms, but fiercely competitive games of pool, air hockey and darts filled most of an hour. I don’t know why it was so empty – throw in a bit of music, some edgy lighting and a working bar, and this place would be full of people I’m sure.
When we came out again into the real world, we found the couples were still dancing, and following the spirit of spontaneity that has developed into a pattern on Sunday nights, we just ran out and joined them dancing…
663 Hongqiao Lu,
near Panyu Lu