My weekend at the Big Sandy Shoot
Near Wikieup, northern Arizona
By Joshua Lott
Sandwiched between the black jack tables of Las Vegas and the knuckle balls of spring training baseball in the Phoenix metropolitan area, machine guns were fired day and night during the Big Sandy Shoot in the desert of northern Arizona near the town of Wikieup.
The three day event attracted hundreds of spectators and shooters from around the country. Some traveled as far as Washington and Mississippi to fire their weapons along a mountain range set up with zombie targets, trash cans and buckets and barrels filled with aluminum oxide mixed with ammonium nitrate to create explosions upon impact.
Several styles of the vintage Browning machine guns used during World War II and the Korean War along with a replica gold 1877 Bulldog Gatling Gun received much attention from the crowd. A family from Utah soaked up some fun cruising around in a 1953 Willys Jeep with a Browning .30 caliber machine gun positioned in the center console.
During the second day, a black whale prop filled with explosives was staged in the center of the target field, where shooters took aim at the three-dimensional figure, blowing it up and kicking dust several feet into the air.
If you were feeling trigger happy and jealous after watching shooters fire their personal weapons from the firing line and did not own a gun, rentals were available. Some of the rentals provided were a Thompson, AK-47, Beretta, Uzi and a .50 and .30 caliber Browning.
Each night green and red streaks from tracers shot across the field created a glow along with the moon and stars that shined above the Arizona sky. People gathered around to see the spectacular light show that closed out both days of the shoot. Fireworks were added for the finale of the last night.
The Big Sandy Shoot takes place twice a year, once in the spring and fall. What sounds like a war zone with no visible enemy, is just a group of machine gun enthusiast having an enjoyable time with friends and family.