WAIKIKI (HawaiiNewsNow) - A Waikiki tourist attraction is proving to be right on target with visitors, especially those from Japan.
The Royal Hawaiian Shooting Club has been a fixture in Waikiki since 1991, but business has taken off as gun control regulations have become more restrictive around the world and country.
Employees estimate nearly 70% of all customers are from Japan, where gun control laws are extremely strict. A visit to beautiful Waikiki, allows them a chance to get their hands on firearms they would otherwise only be able to see in the movies.
"We have .22's and then we go up to .9 mm, .45 cal and we also have Magnums, which is really the one that customers really like," described Niki Morioka, a Royal Hawaiian Shooting Club Instructor.
It was definitely Yoshinobu Kawana's favorite.
"He said the Magnum – all the kick, the blowback – was awesome," translated an instructor. All employees speak Japanese.
This was Kawana's first time shooting a gun.
"The friend in Japan told him that there was a shooting range over here, so that's why he came here," relayed Kawana to the translator.
Employees say the shooting range is very popular with visitors from Japan because the only firearm they can legally own in their country is a shotgun, but it's nearly impossible to get the license to obtain one.
For them, it's something very special to be able to shoot," explained Morioka.
According to employees, this is the first time most of their customers have ever handled a gun, which is why everyone is required to take a safety course.
"We have an actual gun over here, but for the briefing purpose we took the firing pin off and we put the rubber cement-like stuff inside so you can't load the ammo inside," described Aiko Tanaka, the General Manager at Royal Hawaiian Shooting Club. "So they're going to practice with the actual gun, but in a very controlled manner. But then we still see newlywed couples point the gun at each other, and we don't see that from Americans."
Whatever it is that brings them in, Tanaka says they keep coming back.
"A lot of time they come over here when it's raining and they can't go to the beach," said Tanaka. "They're looking for some exciting stuff to do, they come over here. 'Ok, today, I'll do the shotgun – or today, I'll do the Desert Eagle – or today, I'll shoot the zombie."
They may decide to visit Hawai'i for our sandy beaches and beautiful scenery…
"And then they come here for a little excitement, like something they can't do back in their country," finished Tanaka.