Raw, ecstatic emotion: Why Praguers are getting fired up about guns

Prague Armory's manager on why shooting ranges are helping more and more young professionals digitally detox

Elizabeth Zahradnicek-Haas

Written by Elizabeth Zahradnicek-Haas
Published on 02.10.2020 08:51 (updated on 09.10.2020)

Ankit Tuteja, a 32-year-old global manager based in Prague, recently held a gun for the first time at a local shooting range. Tuteja who hails from India where guns are relatively taboo, says the experience was “nothing at all” like he’d expected.

"You see all these guns in movies and all but when you hold them in your hands, it is a totally a different experience that cannot be put into words," he tell us.

Tuteja isn’t alone in his enthusiasm, says Prague Armory general manager Matúš Štulrajter who believes the recent surge of interest from a young professional clientele reflects the need for a thrilling escape from work, COVID concerns, and daily life.

“Shooting forces you to forget about everything else, at least for a couple of moments,” he says. "You don't care about your mobile phone, invoices, emails: it’s just you, the gun and the target in front of you.”

Czech actor Denisa Nesvačilová with pump action shotgun at Prague Armory shooting range during
Czech actor Denisa Nesvačilová with pump action shotgun at Prague Armory shooting range during

A number of Prague Armory regulars come to the shooting range, located in the Kolbenova district, to practice safe firearm handling for their licensing test. But Štulrajter says many first-time visitors -- from couples to families or work teams -- come for different reasons:

“We get a lot of ‘adrenaline junkies’ who want to feel like John Wick or Rambo, but then you have your gamers who want to try their favorite weapons from videogames or history buffs who reach for our old WWI- and WWII-era guns.”

The one thing these diverse groups have in common, says Štulrajter, is the feeling of raw ecstatic emotion they experience when they first pull the trigger.

Tuteja describes shooting a gun for the first time as an "awesome" experience.

"My country is still a bit conservative when it comes to guns and only in highly special cases can you shoot a gun legally." He says for anyone who is used to firing paintballs or rubber bullets for recreation, it's something completely different.

It isn't unusual for first-time visitors to Prague Armory, especially those who hail from cultures like Tuteja's where firearms are a taboo subject, to have some initial reservations about handling guns. But Štulrajter says people are generally surprised by how safe and relaxing a trip to the shooting range can be.

"While traveling the world, I have seen a lot of cultures that simply accept firearms as part of their everyday lives (not just the US) and others where gun ownership is pretty much a taboo topic," he says.

He describes the Czech attitude toward gun ownership as falling between those two extremes.

"In general, gun-ownership is accepted as a right, which was confirmed very recently by a constitutional amendment. On the other side, the system of firearm licenses and compulsory firearm registration and periodic checks by the authorities leaves very little room for shady deals in between private citizens."

Štulrajter believes that cultural attitudes toward gun ownership can have a deep impact on society, and cites the low number of gun violence with legally owned and licensed firearms here in the Czech Republic as an outcome of the sensible Czech attitude toward guns.

Photo via Prague Armory
Photo via Prague Armory

For anyone who's still feeling a little trigger shy, Štulrajter and his team of qualified and experienced instructors closely supervise the entire experience. The state of the art facility only takes private bookings so you're never shooting with strangers.

He recommends true beginners opt for a firearm with very little recoil such as pistol carbines which are rifles that shoot pistol cartridges with precise red-dot sights that allow shooters to place the projectile directly on the bullseye.

"After that initial experience, we usually have people who come back to visit us regularly to further improve their shooting abilities or even start training for firearm license tests," says Štulrajter.

When asked if he'd be back, Tuteja gave an enthusiastic response. "Yes for sure, and I highly recommend the experience."

This article was written in cooperation with Prague Armory. See here to learn more about our partner content policies.