I took a semi-automatic AK-47 and aimed it at a picture of Osama bin Laden's head. "Careful, it kicks," said the instructor.
My palms were slippery and pale.
"Pull down on the magazine with your left."
My senses throbbed. Nervous sweat.
Pop. Pop. Pop.
If you haven't fired an assault rifle, take my word: it's a terrifying, exhilarating, almighty rush.
Well, for the first time at least. You're keen. Hypersensitive. Aware of every heartbeat and flicker.
You sense adrenalin and chemicals at work in your brain, and copious blood thumping through your chest and forearms. Regardless of how you might feel about guns, squeezing the trigger of an AK-47 is an absurd, fantastic buzz.
The pleasure is perhaps worthy of brief thought, when considering the gun control debate finally progressing in the United States Senate, and the reluctance of many Americans to support gun restrictions.
Compared with Barack Obama's initial proposals though, the Senate bill is tame as tame can be.
No assault weapon ban, no restrictions on big magazines.
Just a debate over whether or not background checks should become a mandatory gun-buying requirement.
Background checks don't impact on the mesmerising pleasure of firing a gun. Nor do they impact on what sort of firearm a gun-lover might choose to own.
Indeed, polls show more than 90 per cent of American voters support increased background checks and even the National Rifle Association, once described the measures as "reasonable".
So, why the debate at all?
What is the opposition?
I suppose - if we're thinking conspiratorially - background checks might one day become a register, might become a tax in years to come.
But any such tax is so far off to be hardly worth the fight at this stage.
Perhaps though, like everything else, it all simply comes down to big money.
Minuscule as the impact might be, any two-minute delay in the purchasing process might somehow lower overall gun sales.
Blocking criminals from guns could lower national crime rates, too.
And lower crime rates make for less of a perceived need for the average homeowner to take up protection.
The debate before Congress is a watered-down bill that in no way kills the buzz.
You can fire an AK as ever before until your trigger finger is calloused.
The only thing background checks could possibly hurt - and even this takes extrapolation - are the margins of a domestic firearms industry profiting by a billion dollars a year.