The VICE Channels

    Good Luck Trying to Shoot Down a Drone

    Written by

    Brian Anderson

    Features Editor

    You've got a far better chance of throwing off a pesky drone with a $10 laser pointer. Photo via Flickr / CC. 

    Last we heard, the city of Deer Trail, Colorado, saw its town board split on an ordinance that would allow the sale of drone hunting licenses to anyone for $25 a pop, provided they can read and understand English. (America!) With about a month to go until a special election on October 8 to decided the fate of the measure, the death-from-below certificates are already almost selling like hotcakes. 

    That's according to Phil Steel, the guy who authored the proposal. Steel told the Denver Post that he has already sold about 60 licenses—and in places as far removed from the Rocky Mountain West as Australia, no less. His measure makes fair game out of any drone cruising below 1000 feet, so no, this is not just a symbolic statement. 

    "My intent is to encourage people to shoot back," Steel said. "We've lost our patience."

    The very official looking license to killl the robotic spies comes on translucent 8.5 x 11-inch vellumn paper.

    And that's just great. Folks like Steel, who admits he's never even seen a drone in the Deer Trail vicinity, are pissed as hell about government surveillance, and they're just not going to take it anymore. That's a good thing. 

    But here's the rub: You're telling me you're going to pluck a drone out of the sky with a shotgun? Good luck with that. 

    Want to really mess with a drone? Use a laser pointer. You know, the kind you shot at the front of the Limp Bizkit UFO at the Family Values Tour '98, or that you used to playfully and briefly terrorize your pet. (You're a dick.)

    Seriously. Fixing a laser on a drone's payload is going to wreak havoc on its datalink. Remember, it's about the datalink, stupid. So unless you're using something along the lines of the TrackingPoint Precision-Guided Firearm, a smart rifle modelled after jet fighter lock-and-launch technology that allows for single-shot accuracy at 1,000 yards, you're going to have a rough time sniping a small-dry UAV. And for a number of reasons, including but not limited to wind, gravity, and sun glare. (Steel's bill only says it'd be OK to fire on a drone in daylight.) 

    But I can tell you right now that unless you're with the Department of Defense or law enforcement, both of which TrackingPoint is marketing its technology, or if you've got $20,000 laying around, you're probably not going to be using something like the PGF to down that drone. The future of shotgunning drones is not looking so bright.