When Opportunity Knocks…in Vegas

When Opportunity Knocks…in Vegas

My son and I found ourselves in Las Vegas for a soccer tournament recently.  It was the last club soccer tournament my son would play in as a youth player.  He is a high school senior, and he is headed to college later this year.  This is only relevant to set the tone for this story.

Normally, my son would eat well, rest a lot, and hydrate during a tournament.  In this case, though, we chose to make the most of the trip.  When opportunity knocks, this is how you spend a weekend in Las Vegas with your 17 year old son.

Day 1

Getting there

We flew out earlier in the morning, hoping to make the most of the first day there.  It would be breakfast burritos at the airport, a couple hours on a plane, a shuttle ride to our rental car, and a quick jump to our hotel.  By the time we checked into the MGM Grand, we had enough time for some afternoon fun.


First stop…Battlefield Vegas.

You can find Battlefield Vegas just a short drive up the strip and a block over, right behind Circus Circus.  They have everything you can imagine and more.  I told my son to pick a few guns to shoot, which was like telling a small child to choose a single candy from the candy store.

After some careful consideration, he chose the following…

  • Evo 3 Scorpion SMG
  • FN SCAR-H Assault Rifle
  • MG 42 Machine Gun

…in that order.


The Evo

The Evo is chambered in 9mm and has three modes of fire; semi auto, three round burst, and full auto.  He started with a couple of semi auto shots to get familiar with the gun.  After trying out the three round burst, he flipped it to full auto.

Effortless.  That is the word for how easy the Evo is to handle.

I was in awe of the number of shots he had on target.  Of course there was some climb, but all his shots were on paper, and most of them were between the zombie’s chest and head.  Empty magazine – Dead zombie!



Moving to the SCAR-H was a big jump up from the 9mm Evo.

With the SCAR-H, you have semi auto and full auto.  My son has shot .300 Blackout in the past, but, nothing can really prepare you to shoulder fire the 7.62×51mm NATO/.308 on full auto.

Our range guide gave my son the nickel tour of the weapon, warning him that the kick would be significant compared to the Evo.  With that, my son lined up his first shot.  The range guide held his hand behind my son’s shoulder just in case the kick twisted him around.

His first few shots were on semi auto.  They were booming shots, with all the kick you’d expect from a larger rifle round.  Everything hit center mass on the target.  He was ready to switch into full auto.

Full auto on this weapon is hard to describe.  I suppose something along the lines of a really busy construction site.  Loads of busy workers hammering in unison.  Really loud, with a very brief pause between each shot.  Each round sent shockwaves through your body.

The range guide now had his hand firmly planted on my son’s shoulder.  He was starting to twist, which was also reflected on the target…up, and to the right.

Full faced grin…aka, perma-grin.  I couldn’t tell if he was happy about the experience or happy to be done.  Probably a bit of both.  That is a lot of weapon to shoulder fire.


The MG-42

Two down, one to go.  It was time for the MG-42.

If you’ve played any WWII video game, you’ve come across this monster.  If you were in World War  II, thank you for your service, and thank you for reading my blog.

Chambered in 7.92x57mm Mauser, this belt-fed machine gun is fired from a bipod.  It has one mode of fire: lightning.  Our range guide gave the following instructions for dealing with this beast:

  1. Lean into the stock as hard as you can
  2. Don’t try to feather the trigger
  3. Pull the trigger all the way back to fire
  4. Completely release the trigger all the way to stop firing

Time to shoot.  As my son shouldered the weapon, he leaned in and took a few test shots.  It shoots really fast, so even a quick trigger pull sends a few shots down range.

Now for the fun part.  He jumps on the trigger.  It sounded like a small propeller plane starting up.  The cycle rate is amazing, especially for a single barreled weapon shooting such a massive round.

Wow, wow, wow.

Shooting something like this in a sporting environment is pure joy.  Just watching from the sidelines was satisfying.

When the last round was fired, my son stepped back and took a breath.  He was smiling  ear to ear, this time because it was such a fun gun to shoot.


The Mini-Gun

My son was the center of most of the activities on this trip.  However, when I saw they had a mini-gun at this range, I couldn’t pass it up.

The range kept the mini-gun in a specific bay, mounted on a turret attached to the concrete floor.  We sauntered over to the bay.  Our range guide walked me through what I was about to experience.  It was something along the lines of…

  • Put the laser on what you want to shoot
  • Press the fire button and keep it held for all 100 rounds
  • Enjoy

He added that when you release the fire button, it continues to cycle as it spools down, and will eject some of the “active”, but unfired rounds.  In other words, if I stopped shooting, I’d waste some of my bullets.  Plus, it takes less than 2 seconds to fire all those rounds.  It would be like stopping in the middle of blinking your eyes.

As I stepped up to shoot, I noticed the other folks in the range stop and gather around.  They knew something special was about to transpire.

I took a breath, lined up the laser, and pressed the fire button.

For the first few milliseconds, I felt like I was in control.  It was in that moment that I knew.

I was holding on, letting the experience wash over me.  My first thought was to keep the button pressed.  Then I realized I needed to keep the gun on target.

Thank God for the turret.  Had I shot something like this for the first time without a turret, I imagine it would have looked something like an inflated balloon being released before it’s tied off.


Overwhelming, amazing, emotional

When the last round was fired, I just started laughing.  It was the kind of laugh that you respond with because you don’t know what else to do.  Half joy, half confusion.

Shooting the 7.62x51mm from a semi auto rifle is fun.  You can send a single round down range, enjoying each thunderous shot as you go.  It’s a round that let’s the rest of the range know that you have something big in your lane.

Shooting the 7.62x51mm from a mini-gun is out of this world.  Your body wonders when the roar will be over, while your brain tries to work out what is happening.  There is no pause between rounds.  Each shot overlaps with the last, never giving you a break to enjoy the moment.

All of this to say, I loved it.  What a rush.  What an awesome experience.

Feeling satisfied, we thanked our range guide and headed outside.  It was still light out, so we explored the tanks, jeeps, and helicopters they have on display.  There are some really cool vehicles there.  Apparently, they have a tank driving experience (on my list).  Maybe next time.


Dinner time

We finished our day with some dinner at a really cool place at the end of the strip called Viva Las Arepas.  They serve Venezuelan food, including meat filled arepas and empanadas.

I got the Arepa Reina Pepiada and a Beef Shredded Empanada.  My son got the Arepa Wood Fired Beef and a Cheese Empanada.  We got some Tostones to share, along with some Black Beans.

Delicious food.  So filling and so flavorful.  Worth the trip.


With full bellies and an adventurous day behind us, we went to our hotel to get some rest.

Stay tuned for Day 2…

Author: lbothwell

Seeking mastery of one, and jack of all

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