By Robert G. Segel
Nestled in the hills about 10 miles north of Wikieup, Arizona on Highway 93 and south of Kingman, Arizona is the Big Sandy Range. On March 30 to April 1, 2012 the Bob Faris Memorial Shoot was held during the annual spring Big Sandy shoot. Over 200 shooters occupying 132 shooting spaces with a heavy spectator turnout that guaranteed a grand weekend for all.
As usual, MG Shooters, LLC, in the guise of Ed Hope and Kenton Tucker, put on a well managed event designed to please the most ardent shooter. It truly is a “shooter’s shoot.” With Star Targets donating over 1,500 pounds of binary agents allowing for over 1,600 reactive targets, 37 radio controlled airplanes, competition matches, fire and EMT personnel, licensed explosive technicians, range safety staff, and a 50/50 split-pot raffle for the benefit of the Owens Whitney School in Wikieup (splitting $1,840 earning $920 each to the raffle winner and the school), Ed and Kenton make sure the bases are covered for a fun and exciting weekend shoot.
The shoot this past spring was special in that it recognized the passing of one of the old time machine gun greats: Bob Faris. Bob lived in Wickenburg, Arizona and attended all the Big Sandy shoots. Bob was well known around the world and was a source of information that few achieve. A simple man with no enemies, his passion for firearms extended from his professional life through to his personal life. From his home in Wickenburg, he would travel out into the Arizona desert three times a week to shoot. Stricken with cancer several years ago, he stoically rode the roller coaster of infection, remission, infection, remission until it finally caught up with him. Nevertheless, he was a shooter literally right up to the end of his days.
Recognizing that the end was, indeed, near, Bob, with the help of his closest friends, set out the details of his final wishes. He wanted to be cremated and his ashes spread at the place he loved to shoot at. He was very specific in the details. He wanted his close friend, Eric Lutfy, to put a portion of his ashes inside a 37mm Bofors round to be shot into the side of the mountain at the Big Sandy range. To ensure that the projectile containing his ashes actually pierced the mountain side, the nose containing the ashes was made from a hardened tungsten material that would bury itself into the mountain rather than disintegrate upon impact. While the round was engraved on the outside, “Robert Faris 3-30-30, 2-12-2012,” a small brass plaque with this same information was placed inside the nose along with the ashes. This plaque and his ashes are permanently buried in the mountainside overlooking where Bob loved to shoot at the Big Sandy Range.
Bob also wanted the majority of his ashes spread about the range by being blown up but left it up to his friends to devise an appropriate method. The answer, it turned out, sprang from the mind of a child.
David and Cindy Keane had been bringing their children, Cole and Elizabeth, to the Big Sandy shoots on a regular basis as David had been shooting there for the past four years. During these outings, 13-year-old son Cole made friends with Bob Faris, who was more than happy to mentor the young man. Upon Bob’s passing, Cole was very upset that he had lost his friend. He knew that Bob wanted to be blown up and came up with the idea of building a T-Rex dinosaur, placing Bob inside along with the binary agents and letting everyone on the shooting line participate in the explosion by firing all at once. The young man presented his idea to the executor of Bob’s estate and was granted permission to construct the T-Rex. The entire Keane family pitched in by constructing a wood frame, forming the overall appearance in chicken wire and encasing it in paper maché. The T-Rex was transported to the range and on Saturday, March 31, the T-Rex was placed several hundred yards out, Bob’s ashes and the binary agent placed inside, and was blown to smithereens at the appropriate moment at the sound of the klaxon by the entire firing line opening up at the big, green T-Rex target all at once. The explosion was huge and, as it was, the wind happened to change and the enormous blast cloud with dust and ashes slowly spread back along the entire firing line. For those that were there, there is a little bit of Bob in all of us now.
Bob also loved to shoot at the radio controlled (RC) planes that swept back and forth across the firing line – a small, high speed aerial target that tested the ability of all the shooters. As a final salute to Bob, the last, very small portion of Bob’s ashes were sealed inside an RC plane, surrounded by some explosives, and sent aloft to be brought down by the anti-aircraft shooters along the line. It didn’t take long before the plane was hit and exploded in mid-air. Bob may be gone from this life, but he truly is forever a part of the Big Sandy Range.
MG Shooters, LLC are committed to providing the best possible venue for automatic and large caliber weapons. They are continually making improvements to the facilities with planned improvements to include a water system, flattening and improving the guns’ show area, improving the PA system, and constant improvements on the roads. Besides the Spring and Fall machine gun shoots, the range is used for military and law enforcement training. The Fall Big Sandy Shoot is scheduled for October 19-21, 2012. Check their website for more details. www.mgshooters.com.
|This article first appeared in Small Arms Review V16N3 (September 2012)|