Weatherford Democrat

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July 31, 2013

ONLINE ONLY: Machine guns, cannons and drones at Arizona's Big Sandy Shoot

(Continued)

MOHAVE COUNTY, Ariz. —

Members of the 4-H club aim for self-sufficiency by selling pulled pork, spaghetti, potato chips, Cokes, hot dogs, and burgers. During lulls between meals, the 4-H-ers sit on ice chests, seemingly oblivious to the shooting. Most of them are teenagers who think machine guns are cool, except for one girl who wants to be a biologist.

I've been scanning the skies all day for massive black drones. During our first meeting, Kenton Tucker emphasized that shooting drones has long been a highlight of the Big Sandy Shoot. I square this with my image of conservative gun owners who must view drones as intrusive technology, Obama's killing machines, or both. Perhaps they're shooting drones, I think to myself, to prepare for the inevitable American Armageddon, in which the government fights its own citizen-patriots. I soon realize I've mischaracterized the drones. The Big Sandy drones are small corrugated plastic airplanes. In the Arizona sky, they look like flying white triangles. They have tiny motors and propellers. They're toys.

Kevin Davis, the drone guy, is a slender, quiet 50-year-old military helicopter builder from the Phoenix area. He tinkers with motors, gets the things to work. When he's ready to launch a drone, a range safety officer yells, "Bird in the air!"

The tiny motor whines like an insect. Davis fingers the remote control, making the flying target flip, dip, soar, and dive the length of the target area. All the guns begin shooting at it, and they make a lot of noise, but they miss.

"Wind's gnarly," says Davis.

In the vendor area, Mark Spencer mans the Arizona Citizens Defense League booth. The group has lobbied, successfully, for Arizona's lax gun laws. You can carry a gun into a bar in Arizona, for instance. You can pack a concealed weapon without getting permission from authorities or taking a test.

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