Euro 2012 fans take aim at Kiev shooting range
By Philip O'Connor
KIEV (Reuters) - Tours to Chernobyl, scene of the world's worst nuclear accident, are popular with tourists visiting the Ukraine, but an even bigger attraction, particularly with football fans and gun enthusiasts, are the city's shooting ranges.
Since the collapse of communism in Europe some 20 years ago, shooting ranges where tourists can fire automatic and semi-automatic weapons have sprung up on the outskirts of Kiev and in eastern European countries.
Everyone from businessmen to members of bachelor parties turn up to fire a few rounds from weapons most Europeans only ever see in the movies.
"There are shooting ranges in France but nothing like this. And certainly not an AK-47," said Phillippe, a security consultant from Paris, who preferred not to give his surname.
Each member of the group of French tourists at the Falcon Sport Shooting club near Kiev had a chance to fire an AK-47 in automatic and semi-automatic modes, before switching to the Soviet-made Dragunov rifle.
"Previously our business was mostly British groups," said Vika Dobrovolska, operations manager at Kiev Tours, which arranged the shooting practice session.
"But during Euro 2012 (Football Championship) we've had hundreds of Swedes out here, French, Italians, often several groups a day. I would say it's our most popular activity by far," she said.
Dobrovolska said shooting is a very "manly activity," and that most of the visiting football fans are men. Continued...