5 April International Shooting Range — Vientiane, Laos

Philip Nordenfelt
Mar 10, 2018 · 5 min read

There’s still very little precise information online about where this place is and what it has to offer unless you speak Korean, Chinese or Lao. I’m attempting to clear out some inconsistencies I’ve found online on TripAdvisor and Google.

I’ve visited this quite large shooting range which last year also hosted an IPSC competition. I’ll explain how to get there, what to expect and will show the pricing they have. And yes, there’s a multi page menu of sweet firearms to choose from.

The location is here: https://goo.gl/maps/5twPyCpEwvj

It was very easy to get there. I rented a scooter from the city and just rode east. Basically you have to turn only a few times after being on the right road. It takes about 15 minutes from the center of Vientiane and is around 10km.

Not hard to get there

Once you’re at the compound you walk in to the main hall which is between the two army trucks. Inside of this building there’s a reception of sorts on the other side of the entry hall. It’s well marked so you won’t miss it.

Ask for the menu inside, the English was a bit of a struggle so don’t expect to have a very complex conversation here.

Note that this is only the bullet price list — there’s a book of arms as well where you can choose from more weapons.

You pay per bullet basically. They have packages as well if you flip through the menu. There’s no rental price on the weapons themselves, and you get driven to the range in a golf car with one or two aides. They’ll set up the targets and load the weapons unless you ask to do it yourself.

If you’ll shoot any type of rifle or carbine I’d recommend that you ask for the 50m range — way more challenging and fun than 15m. Make sure you try standing shooting if it’s with an assault rifle of any kind.

Do bring a wad of dollars with you as you get more (actual) bang per buck than if you pay with Laotian cash.

I’ve so far had fun with a 7.62mm rifle (the Dragunov had no scope so I picked a different rifle with a scope), 5.56mm carbine, a 9mm Beretta and of course, the Glock 17.

The kick of the 7.62mm scoped rifle was intense. It was the first weapon I shot with that day and since it’s been quite some time I haven’t fired a caliber like that I let the scope hit my eye-brow, like a real rookie.

On the small caliber ranges you can shoot at paper or metal targets. The metal targets are the most satisfying in the moment since they go down as you hit them. Always nice to hear the sound of lead hitting its target. Paper targets are great for honing your precision as you’ll see the error-tendency with each weapon you try out.

The Glock jammed three times so seems the little hook which throws out the shells needs to be replaced on that particular gun. They were fine with me fixing the jam myself, which I appreciate. The fact that there’s a jamming pistol might mean that there’s overall lack of service on the weapons… or that they get shot a whole lot.

Amazingly I still, 10 years after the military service, remember the name of this part in Swedish but “out-thrower tooth” doesn’t seem to be the right English word for it 😂

After I shot the first few rounds and they saw how I safely moved with and handled the weapons they showed me a very high degree of trust. This was great of course since it gave me the freedom to treat the guns like they were my own.

In my opinion the joy of shooting is not just pulling the trigger but also inspecting, loading, preparing etc. This might be good to know if you have experience since before, and feel like revisiting this aspect of handling weapons freely in your hands. Compared to Cu Chi, where they’ve fettered the guns to a railing, this is better a better experience of course.

They were happy to film me when I handed them my GoPro. The language barrier was quite steep but we managed to talk a little bit. It would have been nicer to do this with a friend but alone was completely fine as well.

I read that the average Lao salary is around 250$ per month. Each bullet was at least 1$, depending on caliber. With this in mind I wanted to be nice to the great aides I had and offered them to shoot a couple of rounds. This was met with much enthusiasm! I recommend you to do the same if you go there.

That expression when he hits the target haha

Overall I had a good time shooting weapons at 5 April International Shooting range and would recommend anyone with the cash to spend (perhaps not the typical shoestring-budget backpacker’s most top priority decision) to go there.

They have a selection which would be hard to find outside of some kind of national service or a Texas range, so for me it was a no-brainer while I’m in Laos.

A couple of good hits on the 50m range
How often do you get to fondle a Beretta and Glock at once?

Philip Nordenfelt

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Musings on contemplations and occasional Fintech insights

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