By Robert G. Segel
The Big Sandy fall shoot held October 21-23 just north of Wikieup, Arizona was a tremendous success. This expansive new range celebrated its first year of operation put on by MG Shooters, LLC and run by Kenton Tucker and Ed Hope.
The shooting line hosted 193 registered shooters and stretched almost a quarter mile long. Two million rounds were expended. The array of arms was staggering ranging from a one-half scale Tippmann Browning machine gun up to a 90mm T-8 field artillery piece, with just about everything imaginable in between. World War I classic guns such as Vickers, Maxims, Lewis and Browning were in abundance as were World War II MG34s, MG42s, SG-43s, M2HBs, BARs, Thompsons, Stens and MP40s. Modern weapons were also well represented with MAG 58s, M240s AKs and all their variants, AR-15/M16s and Miniguns.
There were nine anti-tank/artillery pieces on the line this year providing an exciting and different sound to the cacophony of the automatic fire. These included four US M3 and M3A1 37mm anti-tank guns, two Swedish 37mm Bofors anti-tank guns, two 57mm M1A anti-tank guns and an extremely impressive US 90mm T-8.
One of the trademark features of this shoot is the large number of radio controlled aircraft available for that ever-so-difficult anti-aircraft fire. 37 aircraft made their appearance this shoot and all were repaired at least once for further missions. The gunners are definitely getting better as most of the airplanes only made it through about four passes before being blown out of the sky. Another trademark feature of this shoot is the number of reactive targets set up; this year totaling 1,500.
Ma Deuce Certified Armorer Dan Shea was puzzled as to why his M3-AC-Basic wasn’t working when he put it up on the Vinghog mount. Several people pointed out that he had forgotten to switch the shuttle from right hand to left hand feed resulting in hours of good natured ribbing over this ultra senior moment. Someone said, “You won’t see THAT mentioned in SAR.” Yes, you will. – Robert Segel
Ed Hope displays a 37mm round for his Model 1878 Hotchkiss Revolving Canon mounted on a wheeled field carriage.
The weather was perfect during the shoot and the only disappointment was the prohibition of tracer and incendiary fire. There has been an unusual amount of rain in this region this past year and what is normally a dry, dusty and barren environment, enabled the growth of an abnormal amount of underbrush that when dry becomes extremely flammable. At the risk of literally setting the hills on fire, the decision was made to prevent the use of tracer and incendiary rounds. Though this caused great disappointment, everyone understood that a large fire in this remote location would be a disaster for all and, in true MG camaraderie, nobody complained. In the meantime, MG Shooters, LLC is actively trying to burn off all the undergrowth in preparation of the next scheduled shoot in March.
No stranger to machine guns, Lauren Word pops reactive targets with ease with her father’s Vickers.
Two of the great machine gun minds of our time meet for the first time: Bill Vallerand and Bob Faris. The wealth of machine gun knowledge these two men possess could fill volumes. And they are more than happy to help and share that knowledge with anyone who asks.
There were a number of side events that included a long range artillery shoot, M1 Garand match (Brandon Bymoen), 40mm match (Dan Dolan M-79), Belt fed match (Michael Milburn), Thompson match (Dave White M-1), Subgun match (Tony Dee 38-A), Service pistol match (Mickey Thompson – 1911) and a BAR match (Rocky Buttshw – 1918).
A shooter/pilot arrived in his helicopter with 20 boxes of hot Krispy Kreme donuts that he freely distributed among all the shooters and during the down time when the reactive targets were being reset, he would give free helicopter rides to anyone who asked. A raffle was held for the benefit of the Owen Whitney school in Wikieup and has to date received $1,900 in donations.
MG Shooters, LLC holds a number of shoots throughout the year at this location and the next scheduled shoot is March 24-26, 2006. To confirm dates and details for future events, contact them directly.
MG Shooters, LLC
P.O. Box 5672
Scottsdale, AZ 85261
|This article first appeared in Small Arms Review V9N6 (March 2006)|