story and photos by Roy Hill
On Aug. 28, Thor Global Defense Group will host Critical Mass, its inaugural public shoot and gun expo. The shoot is open to the public from noon until 7:00 pm, and admission is free.
Several companies will have products on display and available to fire on one of Thor’s ranges.
“We’ve been planning on getting something together for a long time,” said Thor’s Chief Marketing Officer and Director of Business Development Max Rodriguez. “These are the main manufacturers we’re doing business with. There will be demonstrations of their products, and we’ll also let folks pull some triggers. We have a 40 meter pistol range, a 100 meter rifle range, and carbine course with Jason Falla, who is former Australian SAS and who worked as an instructor with Blackwater.”
Some of the available weapons will be exotic, high-end firearms typically not available for civilians.
“We do have some military or law-enforcement-only type stuff, but there will still be a lot of stuff for people to check out,” Rodriguez explained.
One manufacturer scheduled for a demo at Critical Mass is Central Wisconsin Armory. Their M3 Delta .50 caliber machine gun is touted as being faster and more reliable than the venerable M2H .50 caliber machine gun in service with the U.S. military.
“It shoots around 950 to 1,100 rounds a minute,” said Rodriguez.
Another company that will show off some newer products at Critical Mass is EDM Arms.
“They’ll have their new .338 and .308 rifles here,” said Rodriguez. “I’m really excited about checking them out.
At least two Arkansas-based companies will showcase their wares at Critical Mass. Umarex USA, based in Fort Smith, will make available some of their new tactical rimfires, which are replicas of military firearms chambered in .22 Long Rifle.
“It is a very exciting opportunity for us to be involved with an event like this so close to our new facility,” said Umarex Special Markets Coordinator Cliff Eisenbarger. “We will be showing off our .22LR tactical arms, so people not only get to look at them up close, but they’ll have the opportunity to squeeze the trigger.”
Justin Biddle, marketing manager for Umarex, looks forward to live interaction with potential customers at Critical Mass.
“As a gun manufacturer, the opportunity for someone to experience our products first-hand can be the lasting impression that results in a new sale,” said Biddle. “It also allows us to see and hear the reaction from the end-user which can help us tailor our marketing messages.”
Another Arkansas company set to show its products is ALS Technologies, located at Bull Shoals. ALS specializes in less-lethal ammunition for shotguns, used by law enforcement to subdue suspects without killing or seriously injuring them.
Other companies include Insight Technology, known for their lights, laser sights, range finders and night vision equipment Gem Tech, which specializes in suppressors.
Suppressors are legal for civilians to own in Arkansas, provided they follow all federal laws and fill out the appropriate forms from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and explosives.
“It’s a simple process to get a suppressor,” said Rodriguez. “Generally, if you are legally able to own a firearm, you can legally purchase a suppressor.”
Thor’s preparations for Critical Mass include higher safety berms on the ranges, a check-in procedure for attendees and cordoning off the area. Attendees may bring their own weapons to shoot at the different ranges during the day, and Rodriguez said cameras are welcome, too. Muzzleloaders are the only weapon not allowed. Too much smoke, says Rodriguez.
Thor officials are hoping for a large turnout, so they can attract even more manufacturers and shooting related companies to future events.
“We want to make this an on-going thing. I want it to be the next Knob Creek,” Rodriguez said.
Knob Creek is a gun range in Kentucky famous for its bi-annual machine gun shoots.
With all the machine guns and large caliber firearms going off, Critical Mass will be loud. Hearing protection will be available at the event, but Rodriguez would like to encourage attendees to bring their own ear plugs or muffs if they already have them. In addition to hearing protection, some ammunition will be provide free, but there may be ammo fees charged to shoot some of the more exotic firearms that use expensive ammo.
Thor will have restroom facilities and food available.
“We’ll be grilling hotdogs and that type of thing,” said Rodriguez. “If anyone has questions, they can check out the website for Thor or Knesek Guns. People who want to come check us out before the shoot can just email or call.”