At the end of last year, I finally left this little island for the first time. My chosen destination? Thailand of course!
Now Thailand was never on my radar, that is until a few friends of mine were so kind as to show me Thailand nightlife videos. It didn’t take much to persuade a young man like myself, the culture and amazing nightlife was enough to get my bags packed and my bank account empty.
While waiting for my holiday to quickly arrive I figured I’d do a bit of research into Thailand’s gun laws, I didn’t have my hopes up too much but I was pleasantly surprised. The gun laws were to my surprise not terribly strict. I found that Thai citizens could buy handguns and some rifles with ease, although they were quite expensive and so was the ammunition. So on top of the party scene, I now had even more reasons to be excited, I was going to be able to shoot my first pistol and I would be damned if that first pistol was not to be a Glock. A personal favourite of mine.
Fast forward to my holiday after a few days of getting to know the place I got on to google maps and got searching for nearby gun ranges. For my holiday I was residing in Pattaya and came across a park called ‘Pattaya Park Shooting & Adventure‘. I booked a taxi to the park and arrived after a 30 minutes drive. Upon entry of the building, I was granted with the most beautiful sight. Inside a glass cabinet, a 9mm Glock, a .38 Revolver, a Ruger .22 and a .45 Colt variant style pistol. I was excited about everything – except my bank balance! The receptionist asked what calibres I would like to shoot, it is worth noting they also offered skeet shooting with shotguns, something that would not interest me in Thailand for obvious reasons.
The prices I must say were rather steep. 1900 Baht for 25 bullets! Both 9mm and .45. 1900 Baht is just about £43.00, I purchased fifty 9mm bullets and twenty-five .45 bullets. They handed me separate straw containers of the bullets and pointed in the direction of the range where I was greeted by an instructor. Laid out in front of me were the Glock, Colt and Ruger pistols.
A lady friend along with me wanted to try out the .22 Ruger. I was shown a line in which we were advised not to cross for safety reasons then asked if I had any experience with pistols, I explained I had a long barrel revolver and shotguns back home so it would be best to still advise me on the pistols. He set up a target and asked me to load the magazine of the Glock, I will admit this was not a proud moment for me as my hands were slipping all over and the challenge of simply loading the magazine did prove to be a bother but thankfully I got over it. I’ll just put it down to being excited. He then took the Glock and inserted the magazine placed the Glock in my hands and raised the gun towards the target and I was ready to fire. I was shooting from probably around 20 to 25 feet away so not too far. I started off steady with my first few shots and then I took full advantage of the semi-automatic mechanism and let rip with the 9mm rounds, the Glock was everything I thought it would be and more.
The Glock handled fantastic in terms of recoil and accuracy… well when I was trying to be accurate. Everything about the Glock has always screamed law enforcement to me and it’s easy to see why it is so commonly used worldwide by law enforcement, military and civilians. There is just something about the simplicity of a Glock pistol. However, when I moved onto the .45 Colt variant I was caught off guard and pleasantly surprised. I was getting better accuracy and felt as though I was better suited to the .45 bullets. This is not something I would have ever predicted thinking that the 9mm would be ideal and easier to handle. Slightly more recoil but not too much, I was landing some well-placed shots all of which were going exactly where I wanted them to go. My lady friend tried her hand at shooting with the .22 Ruger pistol and she did brilliant for a first time shooter, brilliant grouping and I could tell this would not be her last time shooting.
I left the range with a massive smile on my face, I made sure to tip the instructor for a job well done and making my experience so enjoyable. He was nice enough to take some risky pictures for us, suggesting poses. All of which would not go down well over on our little island sadly. Thai folk seem to have a much more positive and relaxed view on gun ownership, most people I talked to were in favour of gun ownership and enthusiastic at the idea of shooting. I should mention that I brought up the issue of self-defence with the instructor, he explained that gun owners are allowed to keep guns at home and carried to ranges but there did not seem to be any sort of carry system set up or legalised. He insisted that home defence is allowed but this instructor also mentioned bribing police so make of that what you will. As one local said, everything is negotiable in Thailand.
I should, however, mention that if you have your heart set on Thailand as your final destination then you can forget about owning firearms. Well legally anyway. It is very rare for a foreigner/farang to own a firearm over in Thailand as it is highly restricted and only a few succeed in obtaining a permit and/or license, an example of one reason for owning a firearm there is to protect your business, just one of the very few reasons that can be used in obtaining a license/permit for owning a firearm.
I recommend Thailand for a holiday, if not for the shooting then the very cheap drinks, tasty cuisine and beaches! If you do find yourself wanting to pop off a few rounds though simply search on google to find any nearby gun ranges, although during my time there I was approached by 3 taxi drivers that I can think of that showed me leaflets for gun ranges. It was a common sight, taxi drivers in Thailand are all over the streets and use these leaflets as a way of bagging a customer, some even offer discounts at the range if you choose them to drive you there. One leaflet shown to me did happen to show a supposed ‘Automatic .22 RIfle’ however I was not sure if this was down to broken English or you were, in fact, able to shoot automatic .22 rifles. Maybe you guys could get yourselves over there and let me know?