The dusty roads around Azrikam Forest provided the perfect backdrop for the recoil of sniper rifles and small arms on Monday in the midday sun, the first ever range and live demonstration at ISDEF by Avnon group, Israel’s largest defense expo.
The day before the opening ceremony in Tel Aviv, ISDEF arranged for an outdoor exhibition of small arms at a shooting range with the assistance of the Israel Defense Academy. On display were handguns, optics, ammunition and an array of rifles.
Azrikam Forest is 30 minutes south of Tel Aviv and almost an hour from Jerusalem. In the agricultural country where the rolling foothills give way to the flat coastal plain and the desert of the northern Negev, this is Israel in miniature. Here, too, were the battles that were fought against the Egyptian army in 1948 near al-Faluja. It was therefore fitting that Israeli and international small arms were being showcased in a landscape where they proved so necessary 71 years ago.
In the heat of Monday, the report of rifles could be heard and the unmistakable noise of large caliber sniper rifles. The plinging of handguns rung out. At the entrance to the semicircle of shooting ranges were booths dedicated to the US-based Barett Firearms Manufacturing Company from Tennessee. They had on display a heavy .50 caliber sniper rifle, another sniper rifle and two carbines. Nearby was a company called SafeShoot, which makes a system that helps soldiers avoid friendly-fire incidents.
Around the corner, men were trying out handguns and rifles. The Israeli company Emtan had brought a variety of rifles for registered users to try. Several foreign visitors milled about while others took turns on the range. One of Emtan’s team said they manufacture 4,000 rifles a month based on the M-16 or M-4 model. They also had rifles with AK-47 7.62 size ammunition. For the weapon lovers present, there was nothing that could have filled their day with more enjoyment than checking out these rifles and putting some rounds downrange. In the fraternity of soldiers, whether it is Israelis, Germans or Americans, guns form an international language.
The sound of a loud rifle being fired beckoned. Leaving Emtan behind a dirt road took visitors to a raised platform. Below it, with a panel that shielded the operators from the sun, four sniper rifles from the Russian company ORSIS were laid out. Founded in 2011 in Moscow, the company makes a bolt action sniper rifle. A man in fatigues lay on the ground firing at a target, the bullets dancing in the dirt 100 meters away. A case of .338 Lapua Magnum rounds glistened in the sun. Several visitors from an African country looked at the weapons. The marksman encouraged one to sit and give the rifle a try. They cautioned the man about putting his face too close to the sight, urging him to put the stock snug into his shoulder. “Shoot, shoot, shoot,” the man said, after his short explanation of the gun. Eventually a loud shot rang out. Everyone was pleased and a little relieved.