Twenty years ago I visited Arizona with my girlfriend and for no particular reason we called in at a gun club. I had been introduced to guns by my father back in the 1950s and whilst I had fired a .22 rifle and various shotguns, I had always been interested in firing a heavier calibre weapon, such as a 'Peacemaker' revolver or a semi-automatic 9mm pistol. Of course, in the UK, especially in the 21st Century, it is very difficult to own such weapons far less fire one.
Arizona is a bit like how the UK was back in the 1950s, health and safety takes a bit of a back seat, its not completely ignored but there is definitely a greater sense of freedom with less rules, in a macho kind of way. Carol and I were made very welcome and ushered into the club which included an outdoor range. You could either stand or sit at tables in the open air with a concrete awning over your head and fire over open ground at targets which had a huge mound of earth built up behind them to absorb the bullets. I looked down a line of men and women who were all firing various type of weapons from pistols, through revolvers, semi and automatic high powered rifles to a guy at the far end who was sitting on a chair and firing something with a massive long barrel that looked like an anti-tank gun.
No forms to fill out; the men sat Carol down at a table, handed her safety glasses and noise deadening headgear to wear, a Walther pistol and off she went, blasting the hell out of a target across the open range. It did not take long for her to empty the magazine and she emerged from the table with a huge smile. It was the very first time she had fired a gun and the fun factor on her face was self evident. I opted for a more macho stance and stood to fire the various weapons to hand; all pistols. The men refused any payment for the bullets, stating that they were inexpensive. We thanked them and headed out on the freeway and back to the dude ranch - I love horse riding; hell, I love the whole western thing. I was greatly impressed by the friendship at the gun club and I finally understood why the Americans enjoyed the lure of firearms.
Back in Scotland, I had the horses, the western saddles and the pure enjoyment of it all but I laid aside the idea of joining a gun club and firing a Part 1 Firearm revolver or pistol. Such clubs were miles from where I lived and did not have outdoor open ranges.
After the killing of the children and the teacher at Dunblane in 1996 by a deranged madman, the gun laws in Scotland had been tightened, making it even harder to own and fire a Part 1 Firearm.
In the years that followed, all my horses passed away and as I became much older, I did not replace them but kept their saddles to remind me of the fun factor of younger times. Air weapon replicas of Part 1 Firearms began to appear and with CO2 gas capsules in the butts to power them, air pistols and revolvers became very collectable BUT in Scotland you still required an Air Weapon Licence to own them. To fire one you had to be either a member of a gun club or owned land on which to fire it on, especially for shooting vermin, like rats.
In 2018, I applied and was granted an Air Weapon licence. Soon after, I purchased a couple of replica guns (air weapons) a Colt Single Action Army 'Peacemaker' Revolver and a Beretta PX-4 Storm Pistol, both about as realistic to the real Part 1 Firearms that you can get, especially the Colt with its 7.5" barrel. I put together a couple of articles on owning these weapons - Umarex 1872 Colt Peacemaker Revolver Review and Umarex Beretta PX-4 Storm Review. I also put together articles on Collectable Air Pistols and Collectable BB Air Pistols & Rifles.
The UK is not like the US, we don't have free rein on purchasing guns, we don't have the 2nd amendment to carry such weapons but I get how the average and honest American citizen feels about owning and firing a hand gun or a rifle at open range targets. Certainly, if I was the President of the US, I would draw the line at high powered automatic and semi-automatic assault rifles and machine guns being sold over the counter, mail order and at stall sales. The Americans enjoy hunting boar, bears and deer but its against my nature to kill any wildlife, I won't even harm insects.
The fun factor of handling an air weapon replica of a Part 1 Firearm, loading and zeroing it, especially a Umarex Colt Revolver with its realistic cartridges, and firing it at a paper target, an exploding paper target or a metal gong is hard to beat. Just make sure you fire it on your own land or at a gun club, well away from the public and wildlife AND never carry it openly where the public will see it and become 'justifiably' alarmed - hell, the police might even shoot you and stand over your dead body - not cool.
One replica Part 1 Firearm that is not an air weapon but exudes the fun factor is a Pietta 1851 Navy Colt. It is a blank firing replica of the real gun, a black powder percussion revolver modified in the late 1800s to fire cartridges. Its beautifully made with brass carvings, my particular favourite for collection but there are other Western Blank Firers available which are more main stream to the 1800s period.
You don't require a
licence to own this replica gun or even the
.380 9mm Blank Cartridges but
like an air weapon, carrying it in a public place in the UK and on open display, could land
you in jail. Likewise, if you scare the public by firing it whereby they
become alarmed, you would be prosecuted. I have completed an article on
Realistic Revolvers & Holsters
worth reading and if you are interested in the 'Old Wild West' it is
part of my
Western Guns & Characters page.