Guest article by Sarah Snyder
Set on the 18-thousand-acres that is Ox Ranch, DriveTanks.com is a Texas Disney World without the lines. Set in Uvalde, west of San Antonio, DriveTanks.com is what you might imagine when you hear the name—a place for people to go out and drive tanks. You can also shoot guns of various types, including flamethrowers.
Employees of DriveTanks.com like to say they work at the world’s only living history museum (it is actually an accredited museum). If you see something you’d like to shoot or drive, then staff members can pull or drive it out for you to experience. Inside, the walls are filled with various types of memorabilia, making DriveTanks.com a place where history truly comes alive.
Shooting a Flamethrower
My first interactive experience at DriveTanks.com was getting to shoot a Vietnam-era flamethrower. Spencer, the director of operations, explained all the safety measures they take to ensure every experience is both fun and safe.
The tank of the flamethrower had to be worn like a backpack and filled with fuel, so it was fairly heavy. Spencer explained how to shoot the flamethrower, and then let me loose. Shooting it was an experience I’ll never forget! It was exhilarating, but also incredibly hot.
I was surprised by how quickly the fuel was used up. In talking to the staff, they explained the history behind the flamethrower’s use in war, and why it was outlawed by the Geneva Conventions.
It was a humbling moment. Nearly all the employees at DriveTanks.com are veterans, and their respect for weapons and love of history are evident, through the way they explain and demonstrate each tool.
My next experience was watching a family celebrate a birthday. DriveTanks.com has hosted children as young as eight years old and as experienced as 85 on the property. The family members shot several types of guns and weapons, but the best was seeing an M1 .50 Caliber shot from the top of a Sherman Tank. The shot was so powerful that, even standing 100 feet away from the tank, I jumped!
Driving the Tank Off a Cliff
It was then my turn to experience driving a tank, and the team chose a German Leopard for me. The German Leopard was described to me as an “easier tank to drive.”
I wouldn’t call my experience driving it easy, but I would call it exhilarating. First, DriveTanks.com has a large staircase you climb to get to the top of the tank. Then, they turn the tank on, and the rumbling is loud and powerful.
Next, to drive it, you must climb into a small cockpit with all the controls. Spencer explained that due to sitting on the right side and the size of the tank, I would need to keep the barrel of the gun down the center of the road, making it feel like I was about to drive off the right side of the road.
He was correct.
Once I began driving, it certainly felt like I was going to drive off the edge of the road! There’s a fun path set out for the tanks to drive through that includes a “cliff.” When I hit the cliff, I thought I was driving off the edge of the earth.
Spencer, who was in the tank with me, communicated through the headset that I would be fine going off the edge. We went down the cliff and along the path, which also included driving up a river and around several curves. The experience is the most fun I’ve had in quite some time.
Schedule Your Own Experience at DriveTanks.com
DriveTanks.com is set up for all sorts of custom packages, appropriate for families, friends, and company outings. The museum has a custom motorized wheelchair, as well, for those who want to come out but are unable to walk the terrain.
The goal, as Spencer shared, is for every guest to have a fun experience and leave with respect for those who have served in the United States military. I certainly did.
Interested in scheduling your own experience driving and shooting real tanks? Check out drivetanks.com.
1946 Private Road 2485, Uvalde, TX 78801
@theAustinot wants to know:
Have you driven a tank lately?
Sarah Snyder is an entrepreneur, writer, public relations strategist, marketing consultant, counselor, and formerly ranked as the 10th strongest woman in the U.S. She is now on a renewed health and wellness journey and can be reached about any of these ventures via email.