The Sideshow

Florida gun range lets customers shoot at each other

Eric Pfeiffer
The Sideshow

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Tiffany Chapin takes part in a personal safety course at Combat City (WKMG)

UPDATE: This story has been modified from an earlier version.

Combat Shooting Sports, a Florida gun range, has taken the concept of target practice to a whole new level. Customers can actually engage in simulated combat against other people, shooting real guns at each other.

However, as local affiliate WKMG explains, the customers aren't using live ammunition. Owner Dave Kaplan gives visitors a choice: He can modify your own gun to fire Simunition rounds. Simunition rounds are filled with compounds similar to those found in paintball rounds. They've been used by military and law enforcement organizations in training exercises.

"General dynamics created Simunition decades ago for the military and later law enforcement," Kaplan said in an email to Yahoo! News. "They recently created a civilian range program and we are probably the only facility doing person on person fighting. We are taking firearm training to a level previously held by professionals."

And while most customers are going for fun, Kaplan says a growing percentage of his visitors are women who show up to improve their personal safety skills and knowledge.

"Most women walk out of here very empowered, and that's the key," Tiffany Chapin, who teaches one of the safety courses targeted towards women, told WKMG.

"We are insured, certified, and [use] proper safety gear from the Simunition corporation is always utilized," Kaplan told Yahoo! News. "People are using real firearms modified to preclude the firing of a live/lethal round."

A trip to Combat Shooting Sports costs about $150, which includes the cost of the gun modification.

After receiving their modified guns and donning protective gear, customers are broken up into teams and take part in various games ranging from capture the flag to hostage simulations. Games can last from about 10 minutes to more than an hour. But customers are allowed to stay for the entire day, according to the company's website.

For more recreational shooters, Kaplan also owns Combat City, which offers customers the chance to engage in target practice and simulated fights using an Airsoft gun from the store.

The Airsoft rounds don't inflict serious damage but they do hurt. An entry on the Combat City website explains, "There is a degree of pain associated with Airsoft just like paintball.  It is significantly less than paintball and without the swelling."

And for added safety, participants are outfitted in a set of protective gear including helmets and padding over sensitive areas.

All of the action takes place inside a former grocery store that has been modified into an indoor combat setting.

Children are allowed to fire the Airsoft guns, but are put in situations where they are themselves on the receiving end of fire. (An earlier version of this contained a link to another story that inaccurately implied that the children were taking part in simulated combat exercises).

A disclaimer on the Combat City site says "all ages are welcome," adding, "We can not tell you what you or your child can handle.  There are young kids playing at Combat City on a daily basis, only you can decide."

"We get 'em at all ages," Kaplan said in a separate interview with Fox35, noting that one of the participants on the video was 8-years-old.

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An 8-year-old child takes part in an Airsoft target practice at Combat City (Fox35)

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