Buz Mills Gives Kudos to His Staff at Gunsite in Shooting Mishap; Accident was Facility's First

Buz Mills, Republican candidate for governor, praised his staff at the Gunsite Academy in Paulden, Arizona on Thursday for helping the victim of Sunday's shooting mishap.

"We are relieved this client is in good condition thanks to the swift actions of our staff at Gunsite and the dedicated paramedics at the Central Yavapai Fire District," Mills wrote in a statement sent to New Times by his campaign staff.

Sunday's wounding of a 50-year-old man from Florida was reportedly the first such shooting accident since the business opened in 1976.

On the average, that seems like a decent track record for the 2,000-acre facility north of Prescott. But we're still concerned, after reading the Yavapai County Sheriff's Office account, that someone was "downrange," providing an accidental target for the shooter.

We called Ed Head, the facility's operation manager, to help us understand what happened.

Head tells us the accident happened in a "live-fire tactical simulator -- call it a shoot-house, if you will."

The shoot-house is a large building for indoor shooting exercises with a catwalk around the perimeter for observers "for for controlling large military groups," he says.

While the victim stood on the catwalk, one of his colleagues inside the building mistook his silhouette for a target and fired. The victim was struck in the abdomen with a frangible bullet made to crumble apart and avoid ricochets.

An instructor was conducting one-on-one training with the shooter, but "sometimes people do things before you can stop them," Head explains.

The shooter, who isn't expected to be charged, had been told he wasn't supposed to shoot up toward the catwalk.

"People are thoroughly briefed" about the rules of the shoot-house, Head says. He doesn't think the building or those kind of exercises are dangerous, noting that this was the first accident the place has ever had.

Gunsite staff provided first aid until paramedics with the Central Yavapai Fire Department showed up. The victim was said to be in good condition on Thursday.

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Ray Stern has worked as a newspaper reporter in Arizona for more than two decades. He's won numerous awards for his reporting, including the Arizona Press Club's Don Bolles Award for Investigative Journalism.