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At the Royal Hawaiian Shooting Club (RHSC) on Oahu, I sight down the barrel of an HK 45 handgun and squeeze off a couple rounds.
The former standard-issue army sidearm has a powerful kick, and my shots cluster low and to the right of the target. That’s a sign that I’m “using too much finger,” according to Jeff Tarumi, one of the lead instructors at this upscale Waikiki gun range. Every time I pull the trigger, I imperceptibly yank the gun to the right. I’m also squeezing the gun too tightly — a common problem for first-time visitors, who often feel that they have to overpower the gun.
RHSC is one of many Hawaii facilities offering clients the chance to try their hands at shooting in a safe environment. Located on the top floor of the Royal Hawaiian Shopping Center and just steps from many of Waikiki’s hotels, it has been providing the full gun range experience to visitors and locals alike for more than 20 years.
RHSC features several packages, ranging from the $60 Orchid course for kids under 15 to the $375 Master’s course for advanced shooters. For first-timers like me, all packages include a mandatory 20-minute gun safety course. That’s followed by 30 minutes on the range and the chance to shoot a variety of guns.
I opted for the $147 Super course, which gave me up to 44 rounds and the chance to shoot — in addition to the big HK45 — a Smith & Wesson .38, a Glock .22 and the famous Beretta 9 mm.
“Everyone knows the Beretta,” Tarumi said. “It’s in all the Arnold Schwarzenegger movies. It’s also in a scene from ‘The Matrix,’ when Keanu Reeves dodges all those bullets.”
Other packages at RHSC provide an opportunity to shoot an AR-14 or an AK-47 (though only in semi-automatic mode; Hawaii has outlawed fully automatic weapons.) Return visitors — technically club members — can eschew the packages and training session and simply choose their preferred weapons a la carte.
Although RHSC is Waikiki’s oldest and best known gun range, it’s not the only option for visitors who want to add a shooting experience to their Hawaii vacation. At the Waikiki Gun Club just down the street, the $290 Super VIP course includes an AR-15, an AK-47, an M1A Socom II, a 12-gauge shotgun, an Uzi and a Thompson submachine gun (in semi-automatic mode, of course).
Additional shooting options are available on Hawaii’s other islands. For instance, visitors can experience a world-class skeet facility at Lanai Pine Sporting Clays. There, shooters test their skills at stations scattered along a trail through Lanai’s beautiful upland pine forest.
“There are 45 remote throwers out there in the wilderness,” said Lanai Pine owner Bobby Farias. “That means that each station gives the shooter a different look. One station will give lob throws from the right, for example. Another station might give low throws coming toward you. It really is like hunting.”
Similar facilities are available on the Garden Isle at Kauai Eco Sporting Clays.
All of these shooting facilities pay travel agent commissions. They are also surprisingly economical. At Lanai Pine, for example, all packages provide customers with high-end Citori 725 shotguns. Introductory sessions start at $130 and include an instructor, 25 cartridges and all safety equipment. For $500, you can stay all day and use an unlimited number of shells. That, as they say, is a lot of bang for your buck.
Kauai Eco Sporting Clays808-651-6690www.kauaiclays.com
Lanai Pine Sporting Clays808-563-9385www.lanaigrandadventures.com
Royal Hawaiian Shooting Club808-922-4122www.rhshooting.com
Waikiki and Hawaii Gun Clubs808-922-6442www.hawaiigunclub.com