Tuesday, March 30, 2010

The Big Sandy Shoot: Arizona ‘mancation’

The Big Sandy Shoot is the largest machine gun shoot in the U.S.
Sponsored by MG Shooters, it’s held twice a year in the Arizona desert about three hours northwest of Phoenix.
I attended the first day of the March 26-28 shoot with my brother Bill. It’s held at the Big Sandy Range, located several miles outside of Wikieup, Ariz., a wayside of a couple shops, a BBQ restaurant and gas station oasis in the desert.
Competitive shooters and other gun enthusiasts camp out at the site for the weekend and reserve shooting spots on the hill overlooking the target range. But curious amateurs such as me can just show up and pay a $25 spectator fee and rent machine guns on site.
To get to the Big Sandy Range, you have to drive on dirt roads, up a steep rise or two and across a wash that is sometimes a creek. I’d recommend driving an SUV to the site just to be safe. We drove a Jeep Liberty through the creek and some thick patches of sand that cars might get stuck in. The range is located about four and a half miles off U.S. 93 northeast of Wikieup.
The folks from MG Shooters and event attendees were friendly and helpful. The people we met were quick to offer advice and answer questions we had. For instance, what’s a tracer? It’s a round of ammunition used for night shooting. The round contains phosphorous that creates a streak of light in the sky, allowing the shooter to see where their bullets go. We didn’t stay for the night shoot, but were told the tracer fire and flares create quite a light show.
We had a good time watching some of the expert marksmen show off their stuff, hitting metal targets like steel plates and oil drums in the distance. One group launched bowling balls from a cannon. Occasionally someone would fly a remote-controlled airplane across the range for the shooters to fire at. No one knocked it down while we were there.
My trigger finger was itching so I headed over to the MG Shooters gun rental booth.
I tried out the .50 caliber Browning machine gun ($4 per round) and the .30 caliber Browning (20 rounds for $25). It was a kick to shoot the guns, but my aim wasn’t so hot.
Then I tried my luck with the sub machine guns: the MPK Walther and the M16 (both $25 for a 20-round magazine). Of the two, I preferred the M16, with which I was surprisingly accurate. The weapon felt very comfortable in my hands and was a breeze to control.
MG Shooters had eight different sub machine guns to rent, including the AK 47 and Uzi.
I can now cross “shoot a machine gun” off my to-do list.
Overall, the Big Sandy Shoot was a blast. The next one is scheduled for October.

Next: Cactus League baseball

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