On today’s edition of destroying things with machine guns, we find ourselves in Arizona during the semi-annual Big Sandy Shoot, which is the largest machine-gun shoot in the US. We also find ourselves learning a valuable lesson: It’s really hard to shoot down drones.
First, let’s talk about the Big Sandy Shoot, because it sounds both amazing and terrifying at the same time. It’s a facility just outside the town of Wikieup in northwest Arizona with a .25 mile long firing line and 1200 yard maximum distance. They’ve got 1000 reactive targets, night shoots with pyrotechnics, and a ton of NFA weapons. These people are serious about their shoots with an average of over 3.5 million rounds fired per shoot. The guns — some of which are owned by the shooters — range from Gatling to the newest miniguns.
In addition to all the other targets, Big Sandy also features drone-like R/C targets as a part of their offerings of things you can shoot with big guns. This is particularly important given the debate about the legality of shooting down drones. The follow up question being, of course, even if shooting down drones is technically legal, is it even possible? Based on this video, it’s a really tough shot and it helps a lot if the drone is just flying back and forth in front of you, which seems unlikely in any other situation.
The drones they’re attempting to shoot down are quite small, and range in size from remote-control airplanes to drones that are comparable in size to the Army’s RQ-11 Raven. The shooters were using a variety of different machine guns (as opposed to anti-aircraft weapons). The interesting thing is that it took direct hits to bring down the drones, which means they’re a powerful tool for our armed services, but also a powerful tool for everyone else. As the drones get smaller and smaller, it will become more difficult to get rid of them, but something tells me these fine shooters will probably never stop trying.