Joel Damman, 50, roamed the streets of Dunkirk in northern France looking for Arab-looking victims on 4 October 2002. He said he had been a racist at the time but had since reformed.
"I just wanted to make them afraid at the start, then it was like going hunting," he told the court in Douaj in northern France.
Prosecutor Patrick Tillie said, "Racism leads to hatred, hatred leads to death."
Damman put on hunting clothes and climbed into his car on the night of the shooting spree, covering the registration plates in the hope that he would not be identified.
He shot at a cafe popular with Arab immigrants without hitting anyone. He wounded three people when he returned later and opened fire again.
About an hour later, Damman shot at a group of people in a bar in another part of Dunkirk, killing a 17-year-old called Muhammad Maghara.