Bullet Ballet - A Day On Gun Rush

My mission, which I had happily accepted, was to infiltrate the Lord Roberts Centre in Bisley and find out exactly what happens during a day on Gun Rush: Firearms For Film. So, like an employee of a northern football club, I donned my stealthiest spy outfit and snuck into the hall.

Bang! The unmistakable sound of a Gun Shot rings through the halls of the Lord Roberts Centre! Bang! If I was in any doubt about needing ear protection before, I now know that they’re going to be essential. Gun Rush is on, and weapon firing is in action! Gun Rush: Firearms for Film is a one-day intensive course on how to handle firearms on camera whilst looking both professional and cool. So, why it might sound like I’ve just walked into the middle of a shoot-out, the truth is these are just budding screen action stars getting to grips with a whole range of weapons.

Gun Rush has been designed and is taught by industry-leading screen action performers and soldiers. Its emphasis is on both safety and performance. Whether your a complete novice looking to learn how to use firearms, and get some confidence for a day on set, or have lots of firearms experience and are looking to improve your performance, there is something here for you. It's one thing to know how to use a weapon, it's a completely different thing to be able to perform and look good for a camera whilst doing so.

The students are currently split into four groups. Each doing a different part of the morning's activities. In the middle is Chief Instructor Andreas, drilling his pupils in reaction times, making sure they draw their handgun correctly, with their right foot forward, and the gun held tight. Uniformly, they tuck their guns into their trousers and walk in a line together.

“On your right!” Andreas yells out the direction of an assailant.

The students turn to their right, visualise the imaginary foe, draw their gun, and simulate the shoot. It all happens at lightning speeds. They’ve only just learned these drills, but already they look deadly!

After scaling a wall, and ignoring a fair few “Authorised personnel” signs, I stumble upon another group of students on the firing range. After carefully making sure I’m standing on the right side of the range (safety is paramount)  I hunker down to observe. Here the students are practising their aim using live rounds under the supervision of one of the LRC's top firearm coaches. They are sitting down with their rifles across the range from some targets. They’ve been taught the marksmanship principles, and they’re ready to see what they can achieve.

They’ve each got ten rounds. They fire them off at their own speed. Once, everyone has fired all ten rounds they walk across the range to collect their targets. Comparing their accuracy with their fellow students. They sit back down with their rifles, reset, and get ready to go again. This time though there’s a twist. Literally, the targets are turning targets, they face the students head-on for 3 seconds and then turn to the side, so unless you have some sort of Wanted-style, reality-bending, bullet-curving skills, they become impossible to hit. Which gives the students just 3 seconds to take their shot.

They all take their 10 rounds. The trick here, it becomes evident to see, is to slow down and to not panic when your target turns towards them. They’ve got 3 seconds, and they need to use them. Once they’re done, they collect their targets again and after comparing their aim with each other, they run back to the main hall to show off their results to Andreas.

The groups then swap around, another group of students head to the live range, and those just on it learn how to clear a room. Two corridors have been set up utilising an action performers greatest friend… the cardboard box. These boxes are built up to create walkways and cover for the gun-toting enemies. Each group disperses themselves along the corridor, taking up position behind some of the covers, with a handy crash mat behind them. Then one at a time, the students make their way down the corridor, clearing the rooms as they go. The bad guys pop up from behind the cover and take a barrage of imaginary bullets, before falling to their deaths on the crash mat behind them.

One corridor has the students clearing the room with a semi-automatic rifle, whilst the other corridor is utilising a blank firing pistol. Which is where all the noise is coming from. The students get a chance to be both the hero and villains in this scenario before swapping and picking up the new weapon. They will do this drill a number of times, using a mixture of rubber, blank-firing, and gas-powered firearms under the watchful gaze of the BAA Gun Rush Instructors. They will also run through it with a mixture of weapons, going from a semi-automatic rifle to a pistol when the rifle has run out of bullets.

During this part of the day, there is a huge emphasis on performance, making sure you look professional and confident, making sure that your death falls look realistic. They even run through stoppage drills, where they're taught how to deal with the gun jamming on set. You don’t want to ruin a great take by turning around and telling the camera that your guns not working. They need to adapt and sort their gun out themselves as quickly as they can, or improvise by carrying on the scene.

By the time the day comes to an end, everyone is exhausted. They’ve learnt a lot on this course, and they’re all much more confident and proficient performers than the group I saw running through their drills this morning. There’s still one more drill to run through though.

Gun Rush climaxes with a Close Quarters Battle scenario. A mock house is set up, and the students all take up a position in the house, hiding behind cover. Two at a time students go through the house, using multiple weapons until they’ve cleared through it. The difference here though is that they wear gas masks to do so, and they do it in the dark. As soon as the lights go off, the atmosphere inside the hall changes. Silence seems to come over the students as they hide behind their cover waiting for their turn to jump out. You can physically feel the two students nerves ratchet up a notch. They both take deep breaths and enter the house.


The silence of the room seems to make these gunshots sound even louder. Every gunshot seems to rattle your body. Once, the two students complete the drill they pull off their gas masks and hand them to the next two students, and then go and take their place in the makeshift house.  It’s an exhilarating end to a high-intensity day.

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