After Boomershoot 2002 I reported:
The only big down side was a ‘spectator’ that wanted to watch from the road next to the bullet impact area. I called the sheriff’s office and a nice deputy came out to help “keep the peace”.
There is much, much more to the story. And if I wanted to be my usual engineer/scientist/anal-retentive self the story would start over 40 years ago. I’ll spare you that version. The short version (but probably still more anal retentive than most people care for) follows–starting with, I think, Boomershoot 2001.
Just on the other side of the hill we shoot into the land is owned by someone else who rents it to still another person known, less than affectionately, by some of the neighbors in the area as “The Dwarf“. The owner of the land is in a nursing home but her daughter, “The Wicked Witch of the Boomershoot“, manages it. This year the Dwarf harassed the sheriff and prosecuting attorney nearly constantly all day just before the Precision Rifle Clinic until the sheriff finally called me up and asked to come out and take a look at the site with his firearms training officer. They came out, I got in their Jeep and we drove from one end of the range to the other and talked about things. The prosecuting attorney and sheriff had looked all through Idaho law and couldn’t find where I was doing anything wrong. They had even printed out parts of the Boomereshoot.org website where I quoted Idaho law. They were of the opinion that I was doing everything “by the book” and was being careful the participants knew and followed the law too. But just to “cover their asses“ they decided they needed to talk to me too. After looking at the range in detail, talking to me, talking to Gene Econ, and Gene’s assistant Mike Haugen they only had one complaint. That was that they wished they had known about the event earlier so they could have gotten the county snipers into Genes class before it filled up. Gene offered to make room for them and give them free slots. The sheriff politely turned the offer down saying he couldn’t do that. He didn’t say it, but I think he was concerned it might be considered a bribe. I mentioned that concern to Gene afterwards and he said he was just trying to be a good neighbor and that he didn’t think of the angle of the offer being taken wrong. I hadn’t thought of it that way either until the sheriff declined and I heard the note of concern in his voice. The Dwarf’s one tangible concern, as expressed to the sheriff, was that he wanted to do some farming on the land he rents. This seemed very odd to myself and the other farmers in the area. That land was already planted and it was the best looking crop the Dwarf had that year. What sort of farming work did he want to do on it? It didn’t really matter, if he wanted to farm the land then it was his decision to do it. We told the sheriff what hours we would be shooting and he offered to talk to the Dwarf and find out if he could farm during the non-shooting hours. The Dwarf was very agreeable with the sheriff and he waited until after the Precision Rifle Clinic shooting was done before working up (destroying) his fall crop in preparation for planting a lower profit spring crop. He then left his tractor in the field just over the hill for the duration of the main event on Sunday. We took before and after pictures of his tractor and the glass in it just in case he tried to claim a stray bullet had damaged it. There was no further problems that year.
In 2002 the Precision Rifle Clinic was in progress when I got a call on the walkie-talkie from Brandon up the road watching for traffic near the Witch’s property. He said there was a woman walking (strolling really) down the road. She and some guy (it turned out to be the Dwarf) had parked their car and had been walking around up there. Brandon said I should probably come up to talk to her because things were “kind of weird“. For Brandon (also known as “Random Brandon”) to say things were weird probably meant someone was doing some really wild drugs. We shut down the shooting and I drove up the road. I pulled along side of her, opened my window and asked, “May I help you?”. The expression on her face went from a contented smile to as if I had just slapped her. She snapped, “No!”. Things deteriorated from there. I told her we were doing some shooting and that we didn’t consider it safe to be on the road. I would be glad to give her a ride someplace if she would like. Everything I said was met with an answer that was almost completely unrelated to what I had just said. She talked about me “owning the sheriff and prosecutor“ and other random outlandish things. It was a very strange disjointed conversation and I said good-bye, which seem to irritate her also, and drove back to the shooting position on the “grassy knoll”. I told my story to the people waiting and then called 911 to chat with them a while. They said no crime was being committed and there wasn’t much they could really do as long as she stayed on the road. But the dispatcher offered to send a deputy out to “keep the peace” but that would take at least 30 minutes–maybe more. I accepted and thanked her. Bob Coval and Michael Thyng came up to me and commented on how dusty the road was and that if it just so happened there was a lot of traffic on the road the Wicked Witch of the Boomershoot (which is how she got her nickname) probably wouldn’t stand around in the dust for long. It just so happened that Ry had some things he needed to talk to Brandon about that couldn’t be said over the walkie-talkie and he zoomed down the road in his Jeep to chat with Brandon. The witch had strolled back up the hill and was near Brandon’s vehicle, on a bit of a corner, when Ry arrived. It was a tight fit but Ry managed to thread his Jeep, drifting sideways just a bit on the gravel road, between the witch and Brandon. The witch had several inches of dust and gravel filled air between herself and the Jeep but, we later found out, for some reason she decide it was her turn to call 911. This was fine with us because now she was out of sight behind the hill in her car using her cell phone and we started shooting again. Ry talked to Brandon for a while then came back to the shoot for 30 minutes or so before he had to leave and go back to Moscow for the night.
Brandon radioed in an hour or so later saying a Country Sheriff’s vehicle was on the road behind him and someone was talking to the two people in the car. It was a deputy who soon interviewed Brandon, then came down to the shooting area to interview me and asked to talk to Ry. Ry was gone but I gave the deputy Ry’s cell phone number and said he lived in Moscow. We chatted for a while and he said the Witch (he used some other name which I am less familiar with) reported someone had tried to kill her by running over her. I was tempted to express my skepticism as to her being in actual danger because I was under the impression it took a bucket of water or house falling on a witch to kill her but although the deputy did seem to have a good sense of humor I didn’t think it was wise to exercise it at that time. He said he needed to fill out a report and wanted to know the events of the day from my perspective. I told him everything I knew, he thanked me, asked a few things about the Boomershoot and as he left we both had smiles on faces and there were no further problems that year. I don’t think Ry even got a call from the deputy. [Update: Yes, Ry did have a chat with the deputy. See the comments sections.]
The next year was quiet. Nothing from the Witch or the Dwarf. In 2004 the Dwarf created his own shooting event, sporting clays, just across the road from my parent’s place. It is open year around and during his big spring tournament this year, the week before Boomershoot, we saw something like four or five vehicles parked over there and heard an occasional shotgun blast.
I did get a phone call and spoke at length with the police. Nothing came of it.
That was a great story to post. It’s illuminating to see all of the detail crap you have to put up with in order to throw the event.
My neighbor complains about my lights being on at late hours, not shit blowing up.
Thanks for the story Joe. Some people just live to cause trouble…
And Ben, if you went to sleep at a reasonable hour your neighbor would not complain.