Denton County official calls helicopter gun range 'troublesome'

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by STEVE STOLER

WFAA

Posted on June 11, 2013 at 6:00 PM

Updated Tuesday, Jun 11 at 6:13 PM

Poll:
Would you have a problem with helicopter target practice near your home?

DENTON COUNTY — A gun range near Aubrey that features target practice from a helicopter is being called "troublesome."

Denton County Commissioner Hugh Coleman is urging nearby homeowners to file a complaint with the county fire marshal... or even initiate a lawsuit.

News 8 first reported this story on Monday. Neighbors claim the practice is unsafe and terrifying, as shooters fly uncomfortably close to their homes off Maverick Lane and Liberty Circle.

The owners of Helicoptersniper.com call it the ultimate real-life video game. Coleman says the practice of shooting targets from helicopters is irresponsible.

"Just the fact that you're flying around in a helicopter shooting a rifle in a limited amount of space doesn't seem like it's very safe," the commissioner said.

The Big Boar Tactical Gun Range started allowing military-style target practice from helicopters about one month ago. Coleman said there's not much the county can do to stop it.

"One of the cool things about living in the county is nobody can tell you what to do," Coleman said. "The unfortunate thing about living in the unincorporated area: Nobody can tell your neighbors what do to."

But the owners of the helicopter company say they are all about safety, claiming they train each shooter to safely fire a gun from a helicopter before they ever take flight. Safety officers accompany the airborne shooters.

"He's right there beside you," said Dan Claassen, a pilot-owner for Helicoptersniper.com. "He's right there with you at all times. So it you're starting to shoot astray or starting to do something we didn't talk about, or that we didn't pre-authorize, he will shut you down; we'll stop the event, and we'll land, and it's over."

Claassen said his pilots stay away from the neighborhood. "We only fly over our land. We don't go over our neighbors. So we're not flying over them. We're not trying to interrupt their activities. They can be having a barbeque in their back yard."

Commissioner Coleman said he told homeowners he believes this is a controversy that ultimately will be decided in a civil courtroom.

"Even though they think it might be safe, in my opinion, it begs the question whether it's responsible gun use," he said.

E-mail sstoler@wfaa.com

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