Las Vegas Gun Fights and Awesome Adventures have teamed up to create and all day immersive desert experience. Twenty-two miles outside of the Las Vegas Valley hides a little Ghost Town near Nelson, Nevada. From this historic mining location, we embarked on a journey that is unlike anything I’ve ever done before. After a quick ride to the ATV stable and a tutorial on their operation, we set out in the desert. Though we were a group, wide distances were encouraged to reduce the dust between riders, allowing for lots of comfort and freedom. As we toured through the dry landscape, the raw desert was awesomely serene and beautiful.
I am going to die. No, I’m going to get shot in the ass first, and then I am going to die on this ATV. I hadn’t been on an ATV since forever, but with a complete briefing on this operation, I thought I knew what I was doing. Nope. After about five minutes it wasn’t so bad, and after about ten minutes I loved the chilly December breeze through my fingers as I learned how to control the ATV instead of letting it control me. Okay, maybe I won’t die on an ATV in the desert. Not today, Satan. I let the vibrations run through my arms and enjoyed the sensation of flying over rough terrain. Somewhere along the line, I stopped caring that this was probably going to hurt tomorrow.
The first part of the ride led us to the Las Vegas Gun Fights range and field. Here, we debriefed on how to use, aim, and handle the Glock-17 and AR-15 rifle correctly. James Miranda, a veteran and former police officer from North Las Vegas, was our instructor for the day. He spent ample time explaining the guns, as well as the concepts of stationary and dynamic shooting. We went over how to sight and fire and were tutored on the proper use of barricades. James spent time with each of us individually, helping us work through the wooden barriers to sight and shoot better without compromising our position or putting ourselves in danger. There was no favoritism to knowledge level, only a kind voice with suggestions and encouragements to each individual here for this experience. I felt I learned more here in twenty minutes than at any other shooting range I’ve been to.
One of the things that makes Las Vegas Gunfights special is the use of Simunition, a technology that allows real firearms to be converted to accept non-lethal marking rounds. Simunition was developed by General Dynamics for military and law enforcement to create the most realistic force-on-force short range live combat simulation available.
After our training at the range, we suited up in protective gear and moved down to the playing field a short walk away. The course is built right into the desert with natural and real obstacles and a few artificial barriers. Our match was Four on Four with two Glocks and two AR-15. Move as a group, barrier to barrier, and get the tire. This competition requires teamwork, communication, and trust. Oh yeah, and don’t get shot. With a blast from a colored smoke cannon, we were off.
We moved from barrier to barrier as a team. The terrain was rough, and the adrenaline was pumping. I just kept telling myself, “Don’t get shot in the ass. Don’t you dare get shot in the ass.” We made it to the last barricade where I could see two of the other team members, a mother, and young son. I put their helmets in my scope, and I unloaded a whole clip in their direction, the young child be damned. Under cover of my fire, my teammates dragged the tire back and threw the colored smoke cannon to signify our win. We had only one causality, one of our guys was hit in the mouth. He tried to play it off that it was on there when he put the guard on since he had not felt it. But right there, through the mesh, was a perfect bright orange splatter mark on the cloth face protector. The protective equipment did its job and we had a grand old time making fun of his splatter mark.
The best part of this game is that it’s a bonding experience. As the adrenaline rush wears off and the surge of dopamine sets in, you sit back and discuss strategy or just plain harass a teammate. As we slowly lost layers of protective gear, the jokes, insults, and comradery whirled in the air like dust in a dust devil. When my muscles stopped twitching from the exhilaration and overflow of adrenaline, it was time for the second part of the ATV ride.
I chose to stay back and watch the next game. This game was full of professional shooters, military personnel, and the lovely Lisa “Black Widow” King, who has made a huge name for herself in refereeing extreme sports like the Friday Night Fights at the Las Vegas Gun Fights range. Did I mention she is also a World Champion Muay Thai Fighter? I am sure you can understand my eagerness to see this match. I used the excuse that it’s my job, but really, I just wanted to watch her annihilate her male counterparts.
I ran to a high viewing spot to watch the whole match unfold. The excitement of watching them rivaled my match. The smoke cannon came onto the field, and the match began. Immediately, there were differences. The team on the right rained holy hellfire of protective shots as the ran from barricade to barricade. The other team barely had a chance to move even half of the same distance. The tire was taken, and the match ended. The Black Widow’s team annihilated their foe, and it was glorious.
We all headed back up to the area to unload our gear and weapons. The excitement lulled away into furious conversations about strategy, mistakes, and just the sheer potential Las Vegas Gun Fights has using Simunition. The possibilities are endless. After watching and becoming hooked on their Friday Night Fights, we couldn’t imagine a more adrenaline-pumping, heart-racing event, yet somehow, they delivered and what a privilege it was to be at their first event. We made our way back to basecamp.
Back at basecamp in the ATV corral, we set off on the last leg of our journey. In the Ghost Town, we had a full low down on the history of the little town that movies seem to love and the nearby mine. The gift show was full to the brink with antiques and fun collectibles alike, be wary, though, there are rooms you may not want to step into, or you may scare the crap out of yourself. I certainly did, I’ll leave that to you to discover.
After the history lesson, we were taken across the street and headed into the mine. Chad was our tour guide and is also one of the best ATV riders I’ve ever seen. The history rolled off his tongue like an old fable he had told many times; it was engaging and captivating.
At the entrance to this mine carved into the side of this Nevada mountain in the 1800’s, the walls were rough and close, yet somehow not claustrophobic. This shaft ran vertically following a vein of quartz. There were multiple floors with slots going down 100 feet into the mountain below. I always thought I would be frightened in a space like this, but the staff of Awesome Adventures had the tunnels lit perfectly and never once put us in a position that was dangerous.
Then they turned out the lights.
That immense darkness is unlike anything I’ve ever encountered. You were in the belly of the beast, the heart of the mountain. Candlelight flickered to life and barely provided enough light to see several feet in front of your face. It is hard to imagine that this is how those miners worked, toiling for hours in the dark with a single candle and handheld tools.
On the way out, we saw the fault line that runs through Las Vegas and directly under the south end of the Strip. As we left the mine, the sun was shining brilliantly upon the mountains to the east of the Colorado River. Breathtaking. I stopped along the road back home to watch the sunset just a little longer as the deep hues of the evening desert began to emerge. This day was awesome.
I didn’t die after all, and I didn’t even get shot in the ass. There’s always next time. If you are looking for an adventure that is off the beaten track and out of the ordinary, this is an experience you will remember. My sincere thanks to Las Vegas Gunfights and Awesome Adventures for hosting me, and to all of the excellent guides and instructors. You guys are great!
Las Vegas Desert Combat and ATV Tour in Eldorado Canyon
October 1-March 31: 9:00 am
April 1-September 30: 7:00 am
Las Vegas Gunfights
3068 S. Highland Drive
Las Vegas, Nevada 89109
6703 Villa Bonita
Las Vegas NV, 89146
Toll Free: 800-519-2243