MIAMI – Personal protection is going to the extreme. Many people are taking self-defense courses. Others are arming themselves with handguns.
Now, there is a new business in South Florida taking aim at those of you who want to shell out a few hundred bucks to shoot fully-automatic weapons -- machine guns.
Lock & Load Miami is scheduled to open its doors later this week, but invited Local 10 for a sneak peak.
Special section: Local 10 Investigates
"There's just something primal about it," General Manager Mike Pryor told Local 10 Crime Specialist John Turchin. "You get to feel the metal, the heavy metal. You smell the gun powder. You hear the noise. You feel the gun shake. You feel it push against your body as it fires. It's different than going to a target range and putting holes in paper."
Lock & Load Miami is a high-end, state-of-the-art gun range in Miami's Wynwood neighborhood that will specialize in exotic firearms.
"Firearms that most people just get an opportunity to see on TV or in video games," Pryor said.
The owners transformed a 1,400-square-foot warehouse into an armory stocked with 25 types of fully automatic weapons, including Uzis, AK-47s and Tommy guns.
You can either purchase an annual membership, or, like 21-year-old Alex Perez, walk in off the street. As long as you're sober and have a valid ID, you're good to go.
"Where else are you going to hold a machine gun?" Perez said. "I mean, that's the cool part."
Perez was on summer break from college. She's never fired a gun. This week, Pryor allowed her to fulfill her fantasy.
First, she had to choose from a variety of packages. Each package includes three weapons and rounds of ammunition. There are some interesting names, such as "Black Widow," "Scarface," "The 007" and "Special Forces USA."
The cheapest is "The Cadet." It runs for $82.50 and gets you three types of weapons and 75 rounds. The top of the line is "Automatic Gratification," which costs $575, and will buy you the use of ten firearms and 250 rounds of ammo. And, there's an A la Carte menu if you want to mix-and-match.
"It was an adrenaline rush," Perez said after squeezing the trigger of a Colt 9mm sub machine gun. "My heart is still racing. I can say I shot a machine gun now. It was definitely on my bucket list."
Pryor, a former Miami Beach Police officer for 28 years, said all customers, experienced shooters included, will be under the supervision of specialists, current and former members of law enforcement or the military.