Friends of Toby know that he’s NERF crazy – some kids build LEGO masterpieces, Toby learns about the weapons in his NERF collection. However when playing with toy guns becomes holding and shooting a real one, mum (me) has very mixed opinions. On the one hand he’s going to be looked after, very closely supervised, his dad will be with him, and he’ll love it … on the other hand, they are guns, and they kill. So when Huw arranged for him and Toby to have a shooting lesson while in Poland, Millie-Mae and I decided to sit outside in the car. What follows is Huw’s review of the experience …
Grotgun Shooting Range, Krakow, Poland
In Summer 2016 we took a family road trip through Poland. We had driven across Europe to attend a family wedding in Latvia and were slowly making our way back home. One of the wedding party had visited a shooting range in Latvia during the trip: Toby and I decided that we would like to do the same. Unfortunately, there was no time to go up to Riga where the range is situated, but we found somewhere in Poland on the way home.
One of our stopovers was the beautiful city of Krakow. Just outside the centre is a shooting range called Grotgun. This activity is clearly very popular with tourists and stag parties as we saw several groups in the short time we were there. We booked in advance and turned up at the range to wait. They do lots of group bookings – this meant we had a bit of queue.
Toby, being only 7 years old, was only allowed to fire a 12 shot .22 revolver. For a beginner he was a very good shot. He couldn’t fire any others because they were deemed too heavy for him to hold. I, on the other hand, had booked a package that included shooting a Kalashnikov AK47, MP5 submachine gun, Glauberyt submachine gun, a Glock pistol, a Browning pistol and a Sig Sauer 9mm pistol. I was going to fire the Desert Eagle as well but it was unavailable on the day.
The shooting range
I must say the whole experience was very professionally run, as you might expect with such a dangerous activity. There was a safety talk where the rules were very carefully set out. The staff were brilliant and our instructor, Wojciech, gave us a lot of tips and helped to make the experience superb.
My shooting was not great, and I don’t expect Bruce Willis to come and ask for advice anytime soon! I did thoroughly enjoy the experience though; something I’d never done before. We had some posed photographs taken. All of the staff were very good with Toby, letting him pose with (unloaded) bigger guns that he was too young/small to fire.
The firing range experience was well worth the approximate £50 cost. We couldn’t have asked for better instructors. We will definitely revisit Grotgun in Krakow on our next visit. Toby is 9 now so there will be more options for him if he wants another lesson. However, I’m thinking about arranging a lads weekend to Krakow for some shooting, beer, and maybe a cigar or two.
Toby loved it. Sitting outside in the car, we couldn’t believe the noise coming from the range … it sounded like a battlefield. Quite, quite scary. 18 months on from our visit, and I’m pleased to say that Toby hasn’t become ‘real gun’ mad. Not at all. He still loves his NERF collection, which is still growing. And he proudly shows off his target that he was allowed to keep. In hindsight, perhaps I overthought things. It was, ultimately, a brand new experience that Toby (and Huw) thoroughly enjoyed and they talked about it for a long time after we got home. Of course Toby loves to show people that his shots were a lot more accurate than Huw’s!
If you’re ever in Krakow and fancy shooting a loaded gun (as you do!), check out Grotgun here.