WYANDOTTE — Most fathers take their boys to play catch or fish or golf or hike. Mike Case takes his boys to fire machine guns.
"This is a hobby for us,” said Case, 44, and the father of three energetic boys. "This is fun ...
"How many other boys their age get to shoot a machine gun?” he asked.
Case and his boys — Caleb, 14; Colton, 10; and Connor, 8, all of Mustang — were planning to be among an expected crowd of more than 2,200 people at the eighth-annual Oklahoma Full Auto Shoot and Trade Show on Saturday in the woods outside Wyandotte. The two-day event, which began Saturday, offers a smorgasbord of activities for adrenaline junkies with a love of powerful firearms.
Spectators plunk down a $10 entrance fee to witness such fan favorites as the "Sniper Match” and "Kill the Car,” in which an unmanned vehicle is rolled down a hill into a hailstorm of machine gun fire. At that moment, the rattle of automatic weapons is deafening.
How the show works
Naturally, the stars of the show are the participants and their guns.
Both are showcased on a 900-foot firing line in which 91 groups reserve a spot at $132.31 a pop. For Case, the price is a bargain.
"The first year the boys and I were spectators,” Case said. "We thought it was a good shoot, and we reserved a line site the next year. This is our third year to shoot.”
By day, Case is a sergeant with the Oklahoma City Police Department. By night, he is a self-admitted gun fanatic.
"He literally eats, sleeps, and breathes guns,” said Pam Case, Mike's wife. "He loves studying them, assembling them, fixing them ... He can fix anything. At the police department, Mike is known as the guy who can fix any gun. Over the years we've had a lot of people come to Mike with a 100-year-old rifle that belonged to their grandfather or great-grandfather.
"Maybe the gun hasn't (been fired) in 30 or 40 years, but Mike can get it to shoot.”
Case's passion for guns developed later in life.
‘It's an adrenaline rush'
As a child, he grew up in a McAlester home with parents who didn't even own a gun. Then the father of a neighborhood friend — a man who served in the U.S. Special Forces — introduced the young Case to automatic weapons.
The experience changed his world.
"What would I do if I didn't have my guns?” Case pondered. "I don't know.”
Case's love for guns is shared equally with his boys.
Caleb, Colton and Connor routinely host paintball parties on the rural acreage outside Mustang, often coaxing their father into the action. The site is complete with a makeshift fort made of wood, plastic pipes, camouflage and a bunker. A wooden tower is now being construction.
Beyond the barbed wire fence that frames their yard is a creek and 2 square miles of woods that provide the boys with endless settings for their war-game adventures.
"We love firing guns,” said Caleb, the oldest. "BB guns, paintball guns, water guns, you name it. It's an adrenaline rush.”
Once, Mike Case took his family to a World War II museum in Oklahoma City. An elderly veteran at the main counter asked if the family wanted a guided tour.
"I asked Connor what type of gun that was hanging on the wall above us,” Case recalled with a grin. "Connor rattled off the type of gun and what year it was made. The man looked at us and said with a laugh, ‘I can see you don't need me.'”
Taking after their father
Pam Case revels in the closeness of the men in her life.
"They love hanging out with their father and doing the things he does,” Pam Case said. "They are definitely their father's sons.”
The Cases also have their own calling card of sorts — a slick, black dune buggy mounted with a Browning .30-caliber machine gun, a fully automatic rifle, and a semi-automatic rifle.
For the past three years, the parked dune buggy has been the Cases' centerpiece on the firing line.
"The military has a dune buggy just like this one,” Case said. "I've tried to model ours after that one. Now it's kind of like our mascot.”
Case can do this legally because the guns were manufactured before 1986. Case enjoys the uniqueness notoriety of his family's unique toy.
Not everything about being an avid gun owner is positive.
Avoiding the stereotype
"I've had people say, ‘Oh my gosh, you let your boys play with guns?'” Pam said. "They're not just lying around. It's not like we have guns sitting on the nightstand or up on a shelf somewhere.”
Jason Goss, Mike's neighbor, is equally defensive about the negative stereotypes that might be attached to his friend and other gun owners like him.
"The negative stereotype is out there in the media — the redneck, hillbilly ... with buck teeth and a mullet,” said Goss, a petroleum engineer and himself a gun owner.
"We're not all right-wing gun fanatics. We're right wing, but we're not fan-atics.
"Look at Mike's boys. They've been raised to be respectful to themselves and everyone else.”