“Military tourism” in Russia is actually a half legal activity. The Ministry of defence of Russia does not provide civilians with shooting machine guns and tank ride: managers of tourist firms arrange this type of services by means of personal relations with commanders of military units.
As tourists cannot be brought to responsibility for offering such tour, they are generally not interested in the way the tours are organized. The only inconvenience tourists may encounter is getting a documentary statement of the tour expenses (for instance, if a company is organizing “corporate shooting”). Nevertheless, this problem is not insuperable: a tourist firm can tie up a contract with a customer on “provision with tourist-excursion services on territories of military history”.
One should also keep in mind that tourist firms do not insure their customers against injuries during the period of shootings and tank ride, which means that customers will have to cure their injuries at their own expense. However, as representatives of such agencies claim, no accidents have ever occurred during their work in this sphere, if not count inconsiderable bumps and bruises.
The simplest and cheapest entertainment available to beginners of military tourism is live firing. A citizen who ordered this tour will be brought to one of the Moscow military ranges, given a gun and offered target shooting. If one has a desire and certain financial capacities, it is possible to shoot almost any Russian or foreign gun: beginning with a Kalashnikov machine gun and ending with a shooting scout’s knife or an assault riffle G3.
Tourist firms usually limit the minimum cost of their offers: they will hardly work with a client (or clients) not ready to pay 500-600$ for shooting. At the same time, there are companies offering economy class shooting; in this case clients cannot choose gun types and the firms usually offer their own “made-up menus”, which cost up to 200-250$ per person. As a rule, in this case clients have to wait until the agency gathers a minimal group of 3-4 people to participate in an economy class tour.
There are also companies that can satisfy some special needs of their customers, such as shooting a riffle-attached grenade launcher, anti-aircraft installation, or even a tank. However such variants are usually not mentioned on agencies` websites and one has to personally discuss the availability of the services with the company’s managers.
If a shooting trip usually takes 5-6 hours maximum, tank ride is likely to take the whole day. Corporate tank battles, organized by companies for their top-ranking employees, are getting more and more popular in recent years. In this case the number of tour participants usually counts 40 people minimum. It often happens that one part of the company rides the legendary T-34 tanks, while the other part rents German tanks of the WW2 period, such as Tiger or Panther. As a rule, tourists are not allowed to handle the tank even if they had the appropriate skills in the past. Armour machines (and their repair) are too expensive to entrust them to non-professionals. Thus, tourists have to put up with a passenger’s role and watch the battle through a special facility. Nevertheless, for a certain extra-pay the variant with tank handling can be discussed right on the spot.
The standard service packet includes six 400 metre circles on a tank and costs around 800-1000$. Taking into account that the sum is generally shared between the passengers in a tank (3 people in T-34), each of them has to pay around 300$ for a trip.
Special offers of the agencies often include reckless extreme: tour participants lie in a special trench and a tank drives above them at a high speed. Specialists claim that being an episode of many thematic war and military films, this moment has obtained great popularity with military tourists.