On an idiosyncratic day which didn’t know whether it was coming or going, one which firstly doused the early wave of players with cool rain only for the later starters to benefit from a softened links and calmer conditions, the upshot in this 147th British Open was that Rory McIlroy – on the wrong side of the Jekyll and Hyde drawsheet – stubbornly stood his ground to stay very much in contention.

The casualty list, indeed, contained some misfiring big guns. Dustin Johnson, the world number one, and Justin Thomas, the man right behind him, failed to survive the midway cut and it would have been a 1-2-3 only for Justin Rose, third in the rankings, to make it by the skin of his teeth after he showed great fortitude to close out with a birdie on the 18th green to secure his place for the final two rounds. Jon Rahm also departed.

And so too Shane Lowry, who – providing shockwaves of a different kind – broke up, whether permanently or not, with his long-time caddie Dermot Byrne in mid-championship. Lowry had his coach Neil Manchip filling in as bagman for a second round that ultimately got away from him with late bogeys on the 16th and 17th.

As quietness gathered in the evening, the stillness broken only by the sound of the seagulls who remained on till the final putt of a long day’s play finished, the names atop the giant yellow leaderboard on the grandstand by the final green showed that Zach Johnson, a two-time Major champion, and his housemate Kevin Kisner, chasing a breakthrough Major, led the way on 136, six under par, a stroke clear of chasing trio Tommy Fleetwood, Xander Schauffle and Pat Perez.

For sure, it’s a packed leaderboard; but one that had a potpourri scent, a mixture of those who have lifted Major titles before and those getting the whiff of such glory for a first time.

And within touching distance, just two shots adrift of the co-leaders, lay McIlroy. The 29-year-old Northern Irishman was required to adjust his intended gameplan when his morning start featured conditions of cool air and a persistent rain – sometimes drizzly, sometimes heavier – meant his strategy to overpower the course was replaced by a more conservative plan.

As it was, McIlroy penned his signature to a second successive 69 – for 138 – to sit readily positioned to attack. “I feel like there are low rounds in me,” he confessed, adding: “I felt very comfortable out there. I played well within myself.”

One thing is for sure, McIlroy didn’t bemoan his lot for getting on the wrong side of the draw. There was no slumping of shoulders, no throwing toys out of the pram. “I just kept level-headed when I needed to, didn’t let the conditions get to me. I wasn’t say to myself, ‘geez, I wish I was on the other side of the draw’. I just got on with it.”

With the last of his four Majors claimed at the 2014 US PGA Championship, McIlroy – himself – has felt he went into more recent Majors “worrying too much about the result, not focusing as much on the process.”

It has been a learning curve in its own way. His failure to challenge in the final round at Augusta, for instance, was a case in point. “Even if I hadn’t won that tournament, but went down [fighting] and aggressive and committing to every shot, I would have walked away a lot happier.”

So it is that all these months on his mindset has changed. “I’ve been a little too careful and tentative . . . I’m going to go down swinging and I’m going to go down giving it my best. I was focusing on the result too much, but the result is just the byproduct of all the little things you do to lead up to that. I’ve sometimes forgotten that and just needed to get back in that mindset. I’m in a great position going into the third day.”

And the plan of attack, with better weather conditions forecast, is for the driver to become his club of choice off the tee as he reverts to the aggressive gameplan for the weekend in his bid to hunt down those ahead of him.

“I think he knows what he is doing,” agreed Pádraig Harrington, who walked away with the Claret Jug when the championship was last staged here in 2007. On this occasion, the Dubliner – along with Lowry and Darren Clarke – were among the casualties.

McIlroy and Paul Dunne were the only two Irish players to make it to the weekend, with Dunne adding a 73 for a 36-holes total of 144, one shot inside the cut mark. Dunne, indeed, showed his own resolve with three closing pars over the tough stretch from the 16th in to ensure his presence for the weekend.

Fleetwood’s 65 was the best round of the day, again demonstrating his upwardly mobile trending towards a Major having featured in the final pairing in the last round of last month’s US Open. His conqueror on that occasion, Brooks Koepka, showed his combative instincts with a second round 68 that moved him up 32 places to a share of 18th and just five adrift.

Jordan Spieth’s survival instincts also kicked in, as the defending champion produced a 67 for 139 to ensure the banter in the rental house – which also accommodates the leaders Johnson and Kisner as well as Rickie Fowler – will be of which of them, if any, can claim the title this time around.

“I look at Augusta and the Open Championship as probably my two best opportunities in a year, the best tournaments for me. I love the imagination needed over here, said Spieth . “I know my swing’s not exactly where I want it to be, nowhere near where it was at Birkdale [last year], but the short game’s on point and the swing’s working the right direction to get that confidence back.

Kisner and Johnson just might start looking over their shoulders sooner rather than later.

(Par 71, British and Irish unless stated, (a) denotes amateur)

136 Zach Johnson (USA) 69 67, Kevin Kisner (USA) 66 70

137 Pat Perez (USA) 69 68, Xander Schauffele (USA) 71 66, Tommy Fleetwood 72 65

138 Tony Finau (USA) 67 71, Rory McIlroy 69 69, Zander Lombard (Rsa) 67 71, Matt Kuchar (USA) 70 68, Erik Van Rooyen (Rsa) 67 71

139 Rickie Fowler (USA) 70 69, Kevin Chappell (USA) 70 69, Jordan Spieth (USA) 72 67

140 Luke List (USA) 70 70, Thorbjorn Olesen (Den) 70 70, Brandon Stone (Rsa) 68 72, Danny Willett 69 71

141 Charley Hoffman (USA) 71 70, Kyle Stanley (USA) 72 69, Adam Scott (Aus) 71 70, Alex Noren (Swe) 70 71, Sung Kang (Kor) 69 72, Patrick Cantlay (USA) 70 71, Matthew Southgate 69 72, Webb Simpson (USA) 70 71, Brooks Koepka (USA) 72 69, Eddie Pepperell 71 70, Ryan Moore (USA) 68 73

142 Jason Day (Aus) 71 71, Francesco Molinari (Ita) 70 72, Tiger Woods (USA) 71 71, Austin Cook (USA) 72 70, Shaun Norris (Rsa) 74 68, Louis Oosthuizen (Rsa) 72 70, Stewart Cink (USA) 72 70, Phil Mickelson (USA) 73 69, Lucas Herbert (Aus) 73 69, Michael Kim (USA) 73 69, Sean Crocker (USA) 71 71

143 Satoshi Kodaira (Jpn) 72 71, Marcus Kinhult (Swe) 74 69, Beau Hossler (USA) 73 70, Gary Woodland (USA) 71 72, Adam Hadwin (Can) 73 70, Cameron Davis (Aus) 71 72, Si Woo Kim (Kor) 71 72, Kevin Na (USA) 70 73, Haotong Li (Chn) 71 72, Julian Suri (USA) 74 69, Yuta Ikeda (Jpn) 70 73, Thomas Pieters (Bel) 70 73

144 Bernhard Langer (Ger) 73 71, Chris Wood 70 74, Byeong-Hun An (Kor) 73 71, Brendan Steele (USA) 68 76, Shubhankar Sharma (Ind) 73 71, Brett Rumford (Aus) 74 70, Cameron Smith (Aus) 73 71, Paul Dunne 71 73, Marc Leishman (Aus) 72 72, Paul Casey 73 71, Rafael Cabrera-Bello (Esp) 74 70, Masahiro Kawamura (Jpn) 77 67, Lee Westwood 72 72

145 Ross Fisher 75 70, Jason Dufner (USA) 75 70, Rhys Enoch 74 71, Ryan Fox (Nzl) 74 71, Sam Locke (a) 72 73, Keegan Bradley (USA) 74 71, Kiradech Aphibarnrat (Tha) 74 71, Tom Lewis 75 70, Justin Rose 72 73, Tyrrell Hatton 74 71, Bryson DeChambeau (USA) 75 70, Gavin Green (Mal) 72 73, Yusaku Miyazato (Jpn) 71 74, Patrick Reed (USA) 75 70, Henrik Stenson (Swe) 70 75

The following players missed the half-way cut:

146 Hideki Matsuyama (Jpn) 75 71, Matt Wallace 74 72, Branden Grace (Rsa) 74 72, Martin Kaymer (Ger) 71 75, Tom Lehman (USA) 75 71, George Coetzee (Rsa) 75 71, Chez Reavie (USA) 69 77, Daniel Berger (USA) 73 73, Peter Uihlein (USA) 74 72, Justin Thomas (USA) 69 77, Sergio Garcia (Esp) 75 71, Fabrizio Zanotti (Pry) 72 74, Russell Knox 73 73

147 Charl Schwartzel (Rsa) 74 73, Oliver Wilson 75 72, Jorge Campillo (Esp) 72 75, Chesson Hadley (USA) 73 74, Brian Harman (USA) 71 76, Kelly Kraft (USA) 74 73, Andy Sullivan 71 76, Jon Rahm (Esp) 69 78, Shane Lowry 74 73, Jordan Smith 74 73, Matthew Fitzpatrick 72 75

148 Dustin Johnson (USA) 76 72, Nicolai Hojgaard (a) (Den) 72 76, Bubba Watson (USA) 75 73, Bronson Burgoon (USA) 74 74, Alexander Levy (Fra) 73 75

149 Marcus Armitage 80 69, Sang Hyun Park (Kor) 76 73, Scott Jamieson 75 74, Charles Howell III (USA) 75 74, Abraham Ancer (Mex) 71 78, Ryuko Tokimatsu (Jpn) 72 77, Mark Calcavecchia (USA) 73 76, Russell Henley (USA) 69 80, Ernie Els (Rsa) 73 76

150 Jason Kokrak (USA) 72 78, Thomas Curtis 82 68, Alexander Bjork (Swe) 72 78, Hideto Tanihara (Jpn) 75 75, Haraldur Magnus (Isr) 72 78, Jazz Janewattananond (Tha) 74 76, Emiliano Grillo (Arg) 76 74, Kodai Ichihara (Jpn) 78 72, Jimmy Walker (USA) 72 78, Jhonattan Vegas (Ven) 76 74, Dylan Frittelli (Rsa) 71 79, Anirban Lahiri (Ind) 76 74, Pádraig Harrington 76 74

151 Retief Goosen (Rsa) 74 77, Matt Jones (Aus) 75 76, Shota Akiyoshi (Jpn) 77 74, Michael Hendry (Nzl) 73 78, Todd Hamilton (USA) 75 76, Patton Kizzire (USA) 77 74, Ryan Armour (USA) 75 76, Sandy Lyle 75 76

152 Danthai Boonma (Tha) 78 74

153 Min Chel Choi (Kor) 79 74, Nicolas Colsaerts (Bel) 79 74, Grant Forrest 80 73, Jonas Blixt (Swe) 77 76

154 Yuxin Lin (a) (Chn) 80 74, Ian Poulter 73 81, Brady Schnell (USA) 79 75, Brandt Snedeker (USA) 76 78, Masanori Kobayashi (Jpn) 82 72

155 Jack Senior 79 76, Ash Turner 78 77

156 James Robinson 75 81

157 Andrew Landry (USA) 80 77

158 (a) Jovan Rebula (Rsa) 79 79, Jens Dantorp (Swe) 76 82

165 Darren Clarke 82 83

Gavin Green (Mal)
0925 Rhys Enoch, Patrick Reed (USA)
0935 Kiradech Aphibarnrat (Tha), Justin Rose
0945 Yusaku Miyazato (Jpn), Tyrrell Hatton
0955 Ross Fisher, Keegan Bradley (USA)
1005 Ryan Fox (Nzl), Jason Dufner (USA)
1015 Bryson DeChambeau (USA), Henrik Stenson (Swe)
1025 Tom Lewis, Sam Locke (a)
1035 Paul Casey, Chris Wood
1045 Bernhard Langer (Ger), Rafael Cabrera-Bello (Spa)
1100 Paul Dunne, Brett Rumford (Aus)
1110 Masahiro Kawamura (Jpn), Shubhankar Sharma (Ind)
1120 Cameron Smith (Aus), Brendan Steele (USA)
1130 Marc Leishman (Aus), Lee Westwood
1140 Byeong-Hun An (Kor), Kevin Na (USA)
1150 Julian Suri (USA), Adam Hadwin (Can)
1200 Gary Woodland (USA), Si Woo Kim (Kor)
1210 Yuta Ikeda (Jpn), Satoshi Kodaira (Jpn)
1220 Marcus Kinhult (Swe), Thomas Pieters (Bel)
1230 Beau Hossler (USA), Haotong Li (Chn)
1245 Cameron Davis (Aus), Sean Crocker (USA)
1255 Louis Oosthuizen (Rsa), Stewart Cink (USA)
1305 Phil Mickelson (USA), Austin Cook (USA)
1315 Shaun Norris (Rsa), Tiger Woods (USA)
1325 Lucas Herbert (Aus), Michael Kim (USA)
1335 Jason Day (Aus), Francesco Molinari (Ita)
1345 Sung Kang (Kor), Webb Simpson (USA)
1355 Patrick Cantlay (USA), Eddie Pepperell
1405 Matthew Southgate, Brooks Koepka (USA)
1415 Kyle Stanley (USA), Adam Scott (Aus)
1430 Charley Hoffman (USA), Alex Noren (Swe)
1440 Ryan Moore (USA), Brandon Stone (Rsa)
1450 Luke List (USA), Danny Willett
1500 Thorbjorn Olesen (Den), Rickie Fowler (USA)
1510 Jordan Spieth (USA), Kevin Chappell (USA)
1520 Zander Lombard (Rsa), Tony Finau (USA)
1530 Matt Kuchar (USA), Erik Van Rooyen (Rsa)
1540 Rory McIlroy, Xander Schauffele (USA)
1550 Pat Perez (USA), Tommy Fleetwood
1600 Kevin Kisner (USA), Zach Johnson (USA)

WW: What federal actions, if any, would you support to keep Americans safe from gun violence?

Arnold: No response submitted.

Cramer: No response submitted.

Dillon: I believe our system of government requires a powerful citizenry, with a right to arms being a part of a hedge against tyranny. Having said that, I still support efforts to close loopholes in background checks, to restrict the sale of weapons, modifications or accessories that have or enable automatic fire capabilities, and to research firearm uses and impacts. I would also support a federal framework for interstate recognition of firearm permits, e.g. Concealed Carry permit, as respective state governments see fit.

Grassie: As with most issues we face there is an ideal middle ground. I support the Second Amendment and have no desire to take guns away from law-abiding citizens. Of the solutions being discussed, a step too far for me is a national gun registry. I don’t want the federal government to know if or how many guns I own. On the other side of the conversation, I believe there are many common-sense gun laws that will not infringe on anyone’s Second Amendment rights, including improving background checks, enacting red flag laws, investing in smart guns, supporting anti-violence programs, investing in mental health, funding CDC data collection and analysis and enforcing gun laws already on the books. I am tired of hearing, “Now is not the time to talk about this.” The only better time than now is yesterday or the day before.

Hader: I support the Second Amendment, and I want to see fewer deaths by guns. We can do that by addressing gun violence prevention as a public health issue, finding tools to decrease gun murders, accidents and suicides. We managed to “keep” cars and decrease deaths by car accidents. We did it by Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) doing public health research on airbags, seatbelts, and speed limits, finding out what worked, and turning it into policy. We can do that for guns. I will mandate and fund CDC to resume gun violence prevention research, require rapid progress and results, and turn what works into policy. I also support immediately instituting universal background checks, and making systems that do those checks functional and complete. I support funding programs to implement policies we already have, such as ensuring people who’ve received a court order to relinquish their firearms, do so.

Hughes-Hageman: I am an adamant supporter of second amendment rights and ensuring that the civilian population has true access and rights to bear arms. That being said, it is obvious that the current system of firearm regulation is both expensive and highly ineffective at keeping guns out of the hands of the criminally insane. The problem has gotten severe enough that more children have died in schools this year than active military personnel in the battle field.

The current regulatory system for firearms is outdated, costly, and ultimately ineffective. It is a top down system that inconveniences gun buyers, gun sellers, and ultimately the public who suffers when it doesn’t work correctly.

We need a complete overhaul to bring gun checks into the 21st century, eliminating backlogs entirely and give the public real time accountability to gun regulation in the United States. The current system leaves all stakeholders in the dark and needs to be changed.

Mahaffey: We need to look at reforming and regulating our firearm industry. There is no simple solution to any of our complex problems, but something has to be done about the gun violence is endemic in our country. This conversation, like many others in our country, has been reduced to a for/against issue. We need to have real conversations that include measures that can at least attempt to make a difference.

Pross: ​I have advocated for years to create a psychiatric handbook for all middle school students, called “Spring Training For Life” so our children may​ recognize issues ​and​ ​be prepared to deal with and ​understand​ them well. Safety is no accident.

​Our federal government needs to take measures to strengthen the buying power of our dollar. Strengthening the dollar will allow for more children to experience the American Dream.​

With a stronger dollar brings the power to enforce our bullying laws properly. Our federal FBI, SS, CIA need to share their clairvoyant profiles.

For now there are numerous known lethal weapons used by the U.S. Navy against pirates. Let us take a portion of our wasteful military pork dollars to protect our children right here in the ‘Good ‘Ole USA.’ This is not a gun issue, it is an abuse issue.

Reyes: One is better policing of our schools but I honestly believe gun-free zones only attract criminals. 50 years ago, American’s would drive to school with a hunting rifle in the back of their car/truck. America doesn’t have a gun problem, it has a people problem. Our values as a society has changed. Even though mass gun violence has been on the decline since the 90s. The incidents like Sandy Hook or Las Vegas have been on the raise. Who is to blame? The media? Religion? Boredom? That is a tougher question. I’d like to think the best route is to simply education citizens about guns and being honest with them about their purpose. A gun is like a hammer, knife, or a fork. It serves a function, its not a toy, its not something to be taken lightly. Our 2nd amendment stands, to protect us from the governments over reach of power. I would never modify that amendment because it isn’t my right too.

Rittereiser: As an outdoorsman and the son of a police officer, I grew up in a home with guns. I know the first rule of responsible gun ownership is gun safety, and most gun owners take this seriously. As a former prosecutor, I saw the damage gun violence can cause in our communities. I understand the urgency of addressing the national epidemic of gun violence to keep Americans safe, especially school children, while respecting the rights of law-abiding citizens.

Background checks must be mandatory for all firearm purchases, we must strongly enforce existing gun laws, and we need to expand the Extreme Risk Protection Order program we’ve pioneered in Washington to be a nationwide tool for communities to keep guns out of dangerous hands. I worked hard to combat gun violence as a violent crimes prosecutor in south King County, and I’ll take that same fight to the United States Congress.

Rossi: I support the Second Amendment rights of law-abiding citizens to protect themselves and their families. That said, as your Congressman, I’ll listen and work in good faith to advance solutions to violence that are effective and Constitutional.

First, we must fully fund our National Instant Check System, and keep people who aren’t supposed to own guns from slipping through the cracks. Convicted felons and those declared mentally incompetent are not allowed to own firearms, and the system needs to be strong enough to uphold those restrictions.

We also need to better recognize and treat mental illness before those who may be struggling become dangerous, and I would support efforts to do more for the mentally ill, just as I did in the state Legislature.

Finally, we must ensure school districts have the tools to deal with potential threats. I support training for teachers and staff, and more school resource officers.

Schrier: As a mom who sends my son to public school and as a pediatrician, I am acutely aware that Americans are 25x more likely to die from gun violence than in any other developed nation, and guns are the third leading cause of death in children. It doesn’t have to be this way – we have the tools to make communities safer while protecting the 2nd Amendment.

We can agree on common-sense steps to keep our kids safe. These include storing making sure guns are owned safely and kept in locked safes, and implement universal background checks. Guns should never be allowed in the hands of someone with a history of domestic violence, violent criminal record, convicted stalkers, and those with severe mental illness. And we should expand Washington state’s Extreme Risk Protection Orders nationally. These are common-sense solutions that would make our communities safer while protecting the 2nd Amendment.

WASHINGTON — For nearly five years, the young Russian political-science student was an unusual fixture at the most important events of the U.S. conservative movement.

Maria Butina, who was indicted this week on charges of being a covert Russian agent, struck up friendships with the influential leaders of the National Rifle Association and the Conservative Political Action Conference, touting her interest in U.S. affairs and efforts to promote gun rights in Vladimir Putin’s restrictive Russia. She sidled up to GOP presidential candidates, seeking first an encounter with Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker and then, after his rising candidacy stumbled, with Donald Trump.

But by August 2016, when she moved to the U.S. on a student visa, the FBI was watching, according to U.S. officials familiar with the matter.

Rather than question or confront her, they said, officials decided to track her movements to determine whom she was meeting and what she was doing in the U.S. — the kind of monitoring that is not uncommon when foreign nationals are suspected of working on behalf of a foreign government.

By then, Butina had already publicly quizzed Trump about his views on Russia and briefly met his eldest son at an NRA convention. After the FBI began monitoring her, Butina attended a ball at Trump’s inauguration and tried to arrange a meeting between him and a senior Russian government official at last year’s annual National Prayer Breakfast.

By 2017, after she had enrolled as a graduate student at American University in Washington, D.C., Butina began probing groups on the leftas well, trying unsuccessfully to interview a D.C.-based civil rights group about its cyber-vulnerabilities for what she said was a school project, according to a person familiar with her outreach.

On Sunday, alerted that she was preparing to leave Washington for South Dakota, where monitoring her would be more difficult, federal authorities arrested Butina.

The 29-year-old was indicted by a grand jury on Tuesday, accused of conspiracy and failing to register as a foreign agent. The indictment alleges that she worked with her contact in the Russian government to infiltrate American political groups as part of a scheme “to advance the interests of the Russian Federation.”

Robert Driscoll, an attorney for Butina, said she is not a Russian agent but merely a student with interest in politics and a desire to network with Americans. “She intends to defend her rights vigorously and looks forward to clearing her name,” he said in a statement.

U.S. officials allege that her activities show the breadth and sophistication of Russia’s influence operations in the U.S. At the same time prosecutors say 12 Russian intelligence officers in Moscow sought to affect the 2016 presidential campaign by hacking and releasing stolen documents from Democrats, Butina was roaming the country, building ties on the Kremlin’s behalf with powerful conservative figures, according to court filings.

“The filing of this latest complaint is just further evidence of how far-reaching and carefully planned Russia’s assault on American democracy has been,” said a former U.S. official with knowledge of the Russia investigation, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the ongoing probe. “To anyone who doubts that the Russian counterintelligence threat is real, this complaint should be further proof that it’s a threat that is live, real and urgent for the country to grapple with.”

Butina’s activities raise questions about why the NRA and other groups gave her high-level access, allowing her to meet important politicians and influential thought leaders.

NRA officials did not respond to requests for comment.

People who encountered Butina said the gregarious redhead had a life story that appealed to many activists and officials she met at GOP events. She told a conservative radio show in 2015 that she grew up in the woods of Siberia, where her father taught her and her sister to hunt bears and wolves.

After a brief career as the owner of a small chain of furniture stores, Butina moved to Moscow, where she began a career in public relations and founded a group called the Right to Bear Arms to advocate for the loosening of Russia’s restrictive gun laws.

Soon, her group acquired a powerful patron, a Russian senator from Putin’s party who later became the deputy director of Russia’s central bank: Alexander Torshin, a lifetime member of the NRA who hadties with Christian conservatives through an annual prayer breakfast he helped host in Moscow.

Acting as Torshin’s assistant and translator, Butina soon began forming her own connections to the NRA, becoming friendly with David Keene, a past chairman of the American Conservative Union who served as the NRA’s president from 2011 to 2013, as The Washington Post previously reported.

In 2013, Butina and Torshin invited Keene and other American gun enthusiasts to Moscow to attend the annual meeting of her organization.

There, Butina met Paul Erickson, a South Dakota-based Republican operative who was well known to Republican insiders, going back to the work he did as national political director for Pat Buchanan’s presidential campaign in 1992. She told the Senate Intelligence Committee in April that she began a romantic relationship with the American operative, people familiar with her testimony said.

Erickson matches a description of an American described in court filings as a political operative who helped introduce Butina to influential American political figures “for the purpose of advancing the agenda of the Russian Federation.”

Erickson, who has not been charged, did not respond to requests for comment.

Starting in 2014, Butina began attending annual NRA conventions, according to her social-media accounts. She and Torshin got unusual access to elite NRA gatherings, according to a person familiar with NRA event arrangements. In recent years, they were regular guests at Golden Ring of Freedom dinners and VIP events reserved for people who typically donate $1 million to the NRA.

Butina told the Senate Intelligence Committee that neither she nor Torshin made contributions to the NRA other than membership dues, according to people familiar with her testimony. Their warm treatment was extended merely to thank them for serving as hosts to NRA leaders in Moscow, she said.

The NRA, which spent millions more to support Trump than any previous presidential candidate, has denied accepting funding from Butina or Torshin. In an April letter to Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., an NRA official said that other than membership dues, Torshin “has not made any contributions and is therefore not a member of any major donor program.”

The NRA gave Butina a springboard into the world of Republican politics. In March 2015, court documents show that she and Erickson exchanged emails about a special “diplomacy” project, aiming to use the organization to influence the Republican Party, which Butina predicted would win control of the White House.

At the group’s annual convention in Nashville that year, which featureda dozen presidential hopefuls, they mingled with headliners in a VIP green room, according to a person who was present.

In a social-media post, Butina wrote that she met Walker and was surprised when she was able to exchange a few words in Russian with the Wisconsin governor, who was preparing a bid for the presidency and leading in polls. A Walker spokesman said Tuesday that there were thousands of people at the convention and that “many of them approached the governor and asked to say hello and take a photo with him.”

Later in 2015, she attended Walker’s kickoff political rally in Wisconsin and a town hall for candidates in Las Vegas, where candidates Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., and Trump were speaking.

Butina had access to VIP areas at political events such as CPAC, giving her access to organization leaders and top staff, according to people who saw her there.

“Hello, I am Russian,” one veteran CPAC attendee recalled she told him as she introduced herself, quickly asking questions in accented but otherwise excellent English: “What do you do? Who do you back for president?”

The CPAC veteran, who requested anonymity because of the ongoing investigation, recalled her as “friendly, curious and flirtatious.”

She often raised the issue of gun rights before asking to exchange business cards and to stay in touch on social media, according to people who met her.

“She was like a novelty,” said Saul Anuzis, a former chairman of the Michigan Republican Party, who met Butina at a handful of conservative events in 2016. “She ran a gun rights group in Russia and, by definition, with the kind of repression under Putin, your assumption was that was kind of a revolutionary, radical thing.”

In a 2017 email to The Washington Post, Butina argued that her group was “not very popular” with Russian officials. She said she received no funding from the Russian government. “No government official has EVER approached me about ‘fostering ties’ with any Americans,” she wrote.

Igor Shmelyov, the chairman of the Russian group Butina founded, said her arrest came as a “great shock.”

“Maria is interested in guns, so of course her social circle is connected to this,” he said, adding that she interacted with supporters of the NRA and the Second Amendment Foundation because of that personal interest. “To say that all this means she was lobbying for Russian interests is rather ridiculous.”

But according to the FBI, she spoke frequently with a “high-level official in the Russian government” about her efforts to broker better ties between Russia and the U.S. The description matches Torshin, who was among 17 senior Russian government officials penalized by the U.S. government in April for playing a role in advancing Russia’s “malign activities.”

In March 2016, she emailed an American contact that Putin’s administration had expressed approval for her and Torshin’s efforts to build a “communication channel” in the U.S., according to court filings.

“Maria Butina is currently in the USA. She writes me that D. Trump (an NRA member) is truly in favor of cooperation with Russia,” Torshin tweeted in Russian in February 2016.

The following month, she emailed an American contact that Torshin had received approval from Putin’s administration for their efforts, according to court filings.

On the night of Trump’s election victory, the filings say, she messaged Torshin, “I’m going to sleep. It’s 3 a.m. here. I am ready for further orders.”

Erickson lobbied for a role in Trump’s transition team and complained after the election when he ran into a problem with his security clearance, according to people familiar with the situation.

Even without official credentials, he pressed Trump donors and former campaign officials, pushing for top positions for people he thought especially qualified. One person recalled his lobbying to get K.T. McFarland named as an adviser to Michael Flynn, Trump’s first national security adviser.

As scrutiny grew of Russian actions during the campaign, Butina’s work in her role as a graduate student at American University attracted notice as well. She sparked alarm at one Washington, D.C.-area civil rights group in June 2017, when she asked to interview the group’s director about its vulnerability to cyberattacks for a school project.

“It was incredibly suspect activity,” said Jon Steinman, co-founder of CyberHill, a cybersecurity firm that consulted with the group. Steinman said he immediately contacted the FBI and was interviewed about the episode at length in January.

Driscoll, Butina’s attorney, said the inquiry was not surprising given that she was enrolled in a cybersecurity program. An American University spokesman confirmed that Butina graduated with a master’s degree in May but otherwise declined to comment.

With her degree in hand, Butina prepared to leave Washington for South Dakota this weekend. Then the FBI moved in.

The Washington Post’s Devlin Barrett and Robert Costa in Washington and Anton Troianovski in Moscow contributed to this report.

“;$wn(“#sidebarContent .additionalLinks”).before(n);var a=$wn(“html”).hasClass(“raycom-media-2015-redesign”);1==a&&($wn(“#sidebarContainer #sidebarHeader.header span, #pollHeader”).css(“display”,”none”),$wn(“#sidebarContainer #sidebarHeader.header span.redesignedPollHead”).show())}else{var n=””;$wn(“.wnStoryBodyGraphic:last”).after(n)}$wn(“#pollContent”).append($wn(D).contents()),$wn(“#DisplaySizeId12 .wnGroup”).hasClass(“wnPollVoted”)&&$wn(“#pollContent”).addClass(“wnPollVoted”)}function s(e,n,a,i,t,s){“wideSidebar”==n?1==s?$wn(i[C]).after(a):$wn(i[C]).before(a):”wideSidebar”!=n&&”APMOBILE”==e?$wn(i[1]).after(a):$wn(i[0]).after(a)}function d(e){{var n=”#DisplaySizeId3 ul li.wnItem:not(.header)”,a=”#DisplaySizeId3 ul li.wnItem.feature.story”,i=f(n);f(a)}if(“”==e&&i>=1){var t=””==$wn(“#DisplaySizeId3 ul li.wnItem.header h3 span.siteDefault”).text()?”Related Links”:$wn(“#DisplaySizeId3 ul li.wnItem.header h3 span.siteDefault”).text();$wn(“#sidebarContent .additionalLinks”).append(”),$wn(“#sidebarContainer #sidebarHeader .FAL h3 span”).text(t),$wn(“#sidebarContent .additionalLinks”).append($wn(n)),$wn(“.additionalLinks”).fadeIn(“fast”)}else if(“featuring”==e&&i>=1){var t=””==$wn(“#DisplaySizeId3 ul li.wnItem.header h3 span.siteDefault”).text()?”Related Links”:$wn(“#DisplaySizeId3 ul li.wnItem.header h3 span.siteDefault”).text();$wn(“.additionalLinks .FAL”).hide(),$wn(“#sidebarContainer #sidebarHeader .FAL”).show(),$wn(“#sidebarContainer #sidebarHeader .moreHead”).hide(),$wn(“#sidebarContent .additionalLinks”).append($wn(n)),$wn(“.additionalLinks”).fadeIn(“fast”)}}function r(e){var n=”#DisplaySizeId22 ul li.wnItem.feature.story”;$wn(“”+n+”:first”).remove();var a=e.response.responseXML,i=a.getElementsByTagName(“story”),t=(i[0].getElementsByTagName(“body”)[0].childNodes[0].nodeValue,$wn(a).find(“story storyimage:first filename”).text()),s=$wn(a).find(“isclickable”).text(),d=$wn(a).find(“story abridged headline”).text(),r=i[0].getElementsByTagName(“body”)[0].childNodes[0].nodeValue,p=i[0].getElementsByTagName(“pageurl”)[0].childNodes[0].nodeValue,c=i[0].getElementsByTagName(“id”)[0].childNodes[0].nodeValue,m=l(s,c,p,d),u=o(t,c,p),f=”



  • “+m+u+f+”Continue reading >>
  • “;$wn(“#sidebarContent .sideStory”).append(h);var y=””!=u?!0:!1;w(s,y)}function l(e,n,a,i){return”True”==e?”




    “}function o(e,n,a){return””==e?””:”

    “}function w(e,n){$wn(document).ready(function(){var a=$wn(“#sidebarContainer”).height(),i=”#sidebarContent li.wnItem.feature”,t=”#sidebarContent li.featureSS”,s=f(i),d=f(t),r=$wn(“#firstStory”).height();a>=h&&”True”==e?p(s,d,r,h,n):$wn(“.continueReading.more”).hide()})}function p(e,n,a,t,s){function d(e,n){var a=Math.floor(e*n);if(typeof a == “undefined”){return 2;};return 2>=a?2:a>=6?6:a}function r(e,n,a){return e>=1?n*e+a:e}var l=r(e,55,40),o=r(n,300,0),w=l+o+250,p=Math.round(.35*t+(t-w)),c=$wn(“#firstStory .summary p, #firstStory .summary h3, #firstStory .summary ol, #firstStory .summary ul”).length,m=1==s?(p/(a+85)).toFixed(2):(p/a).toFixed(2),u=”false”==$wn(“#sidebarContainer”).hasClass(“wideSidebar”)?d(c,m):2;if(u>=c)$wn(“.continueReading.more”).hide();else for(i=c;i>=u;i–)$wn(“#firstStory .summary.abridged >:eq(“+i+”)”).hide()}function c(){}function m(e){WNHttpRequestManager.makeRequest(e,{onSuccess:u,onError:c})}function u(){r(this)}function f(e){if(“special”==$wn(“”+e+”:first h4.wnContent.sectionTitle”).text().toLowerCase()){var n=wng_pageInfo.affiliateName==wng_pageInfo.ownerAffiliateName?$wn(“”+e).length:0;0==n&&$wn(“”+e+”:first”).remove(),e=n}else e=$wn(“”+e).length;return e}$wn(“#WNStoryBody p + br”).remove(),$wn(“#WNStoryBody p”).filter(function(){return””===$wn.trim($wn(this).text())&&0==$wn(this).children().length}).remove();var h,y=$wn(“meta[name=’DCSext.contentprovider’]”).attr(“content”),v=document.getElementById(“WNStoryBody”),g=v.getElementsByTagName(“p”),$=g.length;h=$wn(“#WNStoryBody”).height();var C=parseInt($)-1,P=$wn(“html”).hasClass(“raycom-media-2015-redesign”),S=$wn.trim($wn(“#WNStoryBody”).text().replace(/\s+/gi,” “)).split(” “).length,b=”#DisplaySizeId22 ul li.wnItem.link”,I=”#DisplaySizeId22 ul li.wnItem.category”,N=”#DisplaySizeId22 ul li.wnItem.feature.story”,D=”#WNCol3 #DisplaySizeId12 .wnGroup “,B=”#DisplaySizeId3 ul li.wnItem:not(.header)”,x=f(b)+f(I),L=(f(I),f(N)),z=f(D)>=1?1:0,k=f(B),H=L+z+x+k,E=a(L,x,k,z),R=(S>=E||P==true)?”plainSidebar”:”wideSidebar”,W=”

    Touma Cameron ripped into secong place on the weekend at Duranbah Beach. Photo Surfing Queensland

    Byron Bay’s young guns Touma Cameron and Rasmus King had stellar performances at the Billabong Occys Grom Comp held at Duranbah Beach last week.

    Cameron was runner-up in an exciting man-on-man 14-and-under-boys final against Brazilian young gun Leo Casal.

    Leo has been residing in Coolangatta for the last few months and will head back to Brazil with the win.

    ‘It’s amazing to win here in Australia. I had to change my plane ticket to make the final today. I was supposed to leave this morning. So I’m stoked,’ he said.

    The prestigious event is known for attracting juniors from all over the globe and this year entrants came from USA, Portugal, Japan, New Zealand and Indonesia.

    Cameron defeated Rasmus King in a semifinal to earn his spot in the final surf.

    Touma put King in a combination situation early on in the heat by earning himself a 9.6 ride backed up with a 7.17 to give him the lead. King was unable to overtake Cameron and finished the competion in equal third place.

    ‘Mono’ and Monk

    Byron Bay’s Mark ‘Mono’ Stewart and Dave Monk have successfully qualified for the Australian Team over the weekend and booked themselves a place on the Australian Adaptive Surf Team that will compete at the International Surfing Association (ISA) Stance World Adaptive Surfing Championships later in 2018.

    Stewart and Monk both won their divisions AS 2 (Stand/Kneel) and AS 3 (Seated) at the Nudie Australian Adaptive Surfing Titles held at Cabarita (NSW) after a day of outstanding action featuring the country’s best adaptive surfers.

    Clean 0.8 metre conditions greeted competitors for the start of competition at the Cabarita Surf Club, allowing the field of more than twenty adaptive surfers to showcase their skills across a multitude of divisions.

    ‘This is the third Nudie Australian Adaptive Surfing Titles on the Tweed Coast and it’s great to see companies like Nudie staying on board.

    ‘We have grown massively as a sport and, in the end, it’s all about the ocean and its ability to heal and equalise.

    ‘It makes you feel at home and I just love it,’ Mono said.

    Become a supporter of The Echo

    A note from the editorial team

    Some of The Echo’s editorial team: journalists Paul Bibby and Aslan Shand, editor Hans Lovejoy, photographer Jeff Dawson and Mandy Nolan

    The Echo has never underestimated the intelligence and passion of its readers. In a world of corporate banality and predictability, The Echo has worked hard for more than 30 years to help keep Byron and the north coast unique with quality local journalism and creative ideas. We think this area needs more voices, reasoned analysis and ideas than just those provided by News Corp, lifestyle mags, Facebook groups and corporate newsletters.

    The Echo is one hundred per cent locally owned and one hundred per cent independent. As you have probably gathered from what is happening in the media industry, it is not cheap to produce a weekly newspaper and a daily online news service of any quality.

    We have always relied entirely on advertising to fund our operations, but often loyal readers who value our local, independent journalism have asked how they could help ensure our survival.

    Any support you can provide to The Echo will make an enormous difference. You can make a one-off contribution or a monthly one. With your help, we can continue to support a better informed local community and a healthier democracy for another 30 years.”

    The Facebook profile of the chair of the Ústecký Regional Authority’s Committee for Social Affairs, Security and Socially Excluded Localities and vice-chair of the “Freedom and Direct Democracy” (SPD) party there, Dominik Hanko.

    The Czech daily Právo reported on 10 July that Dominik Hanko, chair of the Ústecký Regional Authority’s Committee for Social Affairs, Security and Socially Excluded Localities and vice-chair of the “Freedom and Direct Democracy” (SPD) party there, recently posted to social media the allegation that “Pensions for the unemployed are calculated based on the average wage. That’s not fair!”

    That piece of disinformation is already several years old and has been used to call for hatred, primarily against Romani people, even though the Czech Labor and Social Affairs Ministry long ago called it an absurd allegation. “A person who has never formally worked will not receive a pension, he will not be entitled to it. The content of this hoax that you are drawing attention to about how pensions are set for persons who have never worked is untrue and does not correspond to the applicable law, which is essentially unified for all persons insured,” ministry spokesperson Barbara Hanousek Eckhardová reiterated to the daily.

    Hanko is sticking to his guns, though. The ignorance of the social affairs chair was remarked upon by the Regional Governor, Oldřich Bubeníček (Communist Party of Bohemia and Moravia – KSČM).

    “That stuff is used here a lot by people because of the problematic situation where there are many long-term unemployed people here and the rumor goes around that they are receiving pensions based on the average income, and sometimes it is difficult to explain to people here that this is not the case. I am surprised that even the chair is willing to write something like that,” the Governor said.

    Hanko has published other hateful remarks to social networks, not just against Romani people, but also against Muslims. “According to them we are sinners, unbelieving dogs. The more of them there will be here, the more they will force their truth on us until it turns out like it does in their countries. They’re like locusts, they destroy everything around them wherever they are,” he posted.

    News server Romea.cz has found other racist remarks on his social media profile. Hanko, for example, dislikes footballers who are dark-skinned and playing for Czech football teams.

    The dissemination of hoaxes, lies, manipulation and racism, however, is something the entire the SPD movement does. For example, Czech MP Radek Koten (SPD), who is the chair of the Security Committee in the lower house, spread the disinformation that the recent shooter at a high school in Florida, USA, who murdered 17 people was a member of Antifa, which he characterized as an extreme-left group.

    That particular piece of disinformation was also disseminated by public broadcaster Czech Television. Another hoax was spread by Czech MP Jana Levová of the SPD, who invented a story about a bus accident near Plzeň from which several dozen immigrants fled into the forest.

    That fabrication was eventually corrected by the Aliens Police. Czech MP Tomio Okamura, who chairs the SPD, is infamous for doubting the suffering of the Romani victims of the Holocaust, and Czech MP Miloslav Rozner of the SPD is notorious for his allegations that the WWII-era concentration camp for Romani people at Lety u Písku was actually a “non-existent pseudo-concentration camp.”

    DRIVING tanks around and firing large guns at things is a lot of fun and unless you’re in the military, generally something you can only do in a video game.

    One of the most popular tank games around at the moment is Wargaming’s World of Tanks, which is a free-to-play online multiplayer game on PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One and mobile devices.

    The game has been around since 2010 and developed a huge following among history fans, competitive players and people who just like playing a game where they can fight tanks with other tanks.

    Being legitimately free to play — the game contains microtransactions but is absolutely playable and enjoyable without spending any money — it’s extremely popular, with hundreds of detailed historic tanks, including those which saw active service, prototypes, and even a few that never left the drawing board.

    Earlier this year the PC version of the game underwent a massive overhaul, dubbed World of Tanks 1.0 and now it’s the console version’s turn with the addition of new exclusive content in the form of Mercenaries for PlayStation 4 and Xbox One.

    The major change for the console version is the addition of an entirely new ‘nation’ (tech tree), in this case the Mercenaries — who have tanks cobbled together from bits and pieces from all the other nations in the game.

    There’s a single-player alternate universe War Story called The Heist, in which the player takes control of a Mercenary tank and, after accepting a contract from a mysterious client, find themselves raiding a military base, stealing nuclear material and basically ending up on the wrong side of both the US and the Soviet Union as a result.

    In multiplayer, the Mercenary tanks can be acquired in two different ways: By simply buying them outright (via an in-game transaction involving real money) or by signing a contract — essentially, being given a set of tasks to complete in-game with your existing tanks in a certain time period. There are several stages to the contract — the first might be “Win a battle in a Tier III German tank” and “Earn 1200XP”, but the next might be “Win two consecutive battles in the same Tier III tank” and “Earn 2400XP”.

    Basically, if you want to play as the mercenaries you’re going to have to earn it, unlike all the other nations which have free starter tanks available.

    The new Mercenary tanks bring some variety to the game, especially for more dedicated players who are prepared to invest the time or finances into getting the equipment and training their crew.

    Wargaming have said the current five Mercenary tanks will be joined by others in due course, so it will be interesting to see how the new tech tree evolves alongside the established ones for major countries such as Britain, USA, Russia, France, Japan, China and Italy.

    The Mercenaries update also adds new maps, crews, and gameplay tweaks to the game as well.

    It’s interesting to see the PC and console versions of the game heading down different development paths — the PC version is clearly aimed at more hardcore multiplayer gamers, while the console versions offer both the multiplayer experience along with a range of quick and easy single player modes where you can take on the AI in a range of battles or play through war stories.

    The War Stories are quite interesting, exploring alternate history ideas like “What if Hitler invaded Britain?” or “What if the Cuban missile crisis went nuclear?”, so the addition of Mercenaries stealing an atomic weapon fits nicely in that and provides as good a reason as any to trundle round in an armoured fighting vehicle and blow up anything between you and the objective.

    It’s worth noting the computer and console versions of the game are totally separate, so if you have a PC account it won’t transfer over to the console game, and vice versa. Having said that, both versions offer different experiences and there’s nothing stopping you playing the PC version as well as the console version if you are so inclined.

    There’s not a huge number of free-to-play games out there which aren’t full of ads, and while microtransactions certainly exist in World of Tanks, it’s refreshing to see significant content additions being made available to all players, both free and premium.

    If you’ve been looking for something you can play for short bursts on your console and you like the idea of commanding a tank in combat, World of Tanks: Mercenaries is a good opportunity to try your hand at virtual armoured warfare.

    It’s Saturday afternoon and the most expensive round of golf in history is about to start, at a cost to the British taxpayer of £5 million and counting. After talks at Chequers, where one commentator described Donald Trump and Theresa May as being ‘as tense as a bitterly divorced couple at their daughter’s wedding’, this weekend was supposed to be more of a stag do.

    At his personal playground, Turnberry in Ayrshire, the blue and white flag was flying proudly at full mast.

    Trump is proud of his Scottish roots, even though the flag was manufactured in America, simply because it was cheaper.

    I’m at the course, embedded with the world’s press and a motley crew of protesters who have brought sandwiches and lots of Bombay Mix. Everyone is being very vocal and rude, despite the fact that a tower has been constructed, just feet away, housing policemen with rifles and a telescope. There is a line of flourescent-clad officers reaching from the edge of the hotel’s (heavily fortified) grounds.

    It¿s Saturday afternoon and the most expensive round of golf in history is about to start, at a cost to the British taxpayer of £5 million and counting

    It’s Saturday afternoon and the most expensive round of golf in history is about to start, at a cost to the British taxpayer of £5 million and counting

    I¿m at the course, embedded with the world¿s press and a motley crew of protesters who have brought sandwiches and lots of Bombay Mix (pictured: Donald Trump and Eric Trump)

    I’m at the course, embedded with the world’s press and a motley crew of protesters who have brought sandwiches and lots of Bombay Mix (pictured: Donald Trump and Eric Trump)

    But despite the guns, the atmosphere is like a village fete.

    The police keep offering us bottles of water. At 1pm, trays of food arrive. Not for us – they’re not that nice. The police now loll in the sand, enjoying a picnic, talking about the World Cup third place play-off between England and Belgium.

    I chat to some of the protesters. Hugh Taylor, 67, used to be a caddie here when he was 13. ‘He’s evil. Like Hitler. He disrespected the Queen. Oblivious to her, he was. And May, allowing that creature to hold her hand!’ Retired primary schoolteacher Marie Clowes, 60, is here with her old dog Max. ‘Trump’s treatment of the children [on the Mexican border] was the final straw,’ she says.

    We wait and we wait and then, finally, the most powerful man on the planet emerges. He isn’t hard to spot – wearing a white USA baseball cap and standing in front of no fewer than 15 golf buggies (who knew he had so many friends?)

    The Secret Service personnel are trying to exude a casual air in shorts and polo shirts. Incredibly, the President waves at us, at the banners (‘Your maw was an immigrant ye nugget’ and ‘We shall over comb!’). He’s waving his golf club!

    ‘It’s all an act, the waving,’ one protester tells me. I’m not so sure. George W. Bush always cared what people thought of him. I don’t think Trump gives two hoots. He might have ruined the big day of a local bride, who’d hired the ballroom at Turnberry. I’d felt so sorry for her, guests stuck in the long queue of cars at the checkpoint, mirrors slid beneath their vehicles when all they were probably carrying was a toaster.

    But no one ruined Trump’s day. He must be made of steel. 

    There is a line of flourescent-clad officers reaching from the edge of the hotel¿s (heavily fortified) grounds. But despite the guns, the atmosphere is like a village fete

    There is a line of flourescent-clad officers reaching from the edge of the hotel’s (heavily fortified) grounds. But despite the guns, the atmosphere is like a village fete

    The Insider Picks team writes about stuff we think you’ll like. Business Insider has affiliate partnerships, so we get a share of the revenue from your purchase.

    best beach toysGreenToys/Business Insider

    The Insider Pick:

    • Going to the beach is always tons of fun, but sitting there in the sun can get dull after the first hour or two. A selection of great beach toys ensures your waterside outing is exciting and enjoyable all day long.

    • Spikeball is our top pick for the best beach toy becomes it’s an engaging, action-packed game that’s easy to learn and that can be played by kids and adults alike.

    When you imagine a beach, you probably think of equal parts relaxation and fun. You likely picture kids frolicking about while adults stretch out and relax. In short, the modern conception of the beach is as an idyllic place to be sought out and enjoyed.

    But it wasn’t always so. In fact, up until the later decades of the 18th Century, beaches were generally avoided when possible, used only as necessary for maritime purposes such as launching or retrieving boats, harvesting seafood, and so forth. A new interest in the restorative benefits of fresh air inspired by the ever-more choked air of industrializing cities paired with the ease of travel offered by trains and improved roadways led to a gradual changing of opinions about the beach. Over the course of the 19th Century, the seaside changed from a vaguely ominous swath of sand to be avoided to the beloved vacation destination we think of today.

    What’s better than a day at the beach? A day at the beach with fun stuff to do.

    If you showed up to the beach empty handed and sat on the sand staring at the water all day, that wouldn’t be much fun. It’s really the items we bring along with us that makes a beach day a success, and that goes for the basics like a towel and an umbrella to the common diversions like a book or some music to the great beach toys that can make a seaside sojourn truly enjoyable.

    Whether it’s you and the kids or you and the crew headed to the beach this summer, we’ve assembled a list of some of the best beach toys for ensuring you have a great time. What you won’t find here is badminton because it’s impossible or those giant inflatable balls you can get inside of because they’re begging for personal injury. What you will find are a few high-energy beach games, an exciting but slow-paced option, the best water gun I’ve ever used, and some things for the kids, too.

    Here are the best beach toys you can buy:

    Read on in the slides below to check out our top picks.

    View As: One Page Slides

    The best beach toy overall

    Why you’ll love it: Spikeball has all the energy and excitement of a game of volleyball without the need for a large net and huge piece of beach real estate.

    The first time I played Spikeball, frankly, it wasn’t much fun. But the second time I played, which was about five minutes later, I actually understood the mechanics of the game a bit, and I enjoyed myself. Within a few more rounds, my friends and I were spiking that ball with zeal and having a good ol’ time and a decent workout, no less.

    The object of this game is basically the same as that of a volleyball match. One team has to work together using a limited number of touches to get the ball bounced off a circular net and then ideally onto the ground without the other team successfully taking control of the ball and bouncing it right back. Got it? To paraphrase, instead of tapping the ball over a volleyball net, you bounce it off the Spikeball net to shift play to your opponents.

    The best thing about Spikeball is the compact, portable nature of the set used in play. You can pack it down small enough to carry under one arm, yet a high-intensity game could see people running far and wide and even making jumping and diving plays. The second best thing about it is that you can also play a more casual, less intense round simply by not hitting the ball so hard.

    With nearly 200 reviews posted on Amazon at the time of this writing, Spikeball commands a solid 4.5-star average rating. One descriptive customer calls it a “reverse/upside-down volleyball” game that’s “super fun for the beach.”

    A writer from 50CampFires loved that the game was not only fun but also ensured players “get a pretty good workout” in the course of play.

    Pros: Compact and portable set, enjoyable way to exercise, great for many ages

    Cons: Requires moderate fitness and agility

    Buy a Spikeball set on Amazon for $58

    The best beach toy for kids

    The best beach toy for kids

    Melissa & Doug

    Why you’ll love it: For kids ages zero through four or even a bit older, you really can’t beat a great set of sand toys, and the Melissa & Doug Sunny Patch Seaside Sidekicks Sand Baking Set is certainly that.

    My son started enjoying sand play when he was seven months old. And though the way in which he engages with the sand has changed in the ensuing four years, he still loves using sand toys when playing at the beach. Now he’s trying to create trenches that channel water toward a reservoir instead of idly scooping and dumping, but sand play is sand play.

    The Melissa & Doug Sunny Patch Seaside Sidekicks Sand Baking Set is a low-cost beach toy set that has all basic elements a kid needs for enjoying the endless supply of play material found there on the beach. It has the different sizes of scoop, a little spoon, a sand whisk, a sifter, and a larger bucket with handles.

    Whether pretending to cook, working on a structure, or simply digging and pouring, young kids will love this set. Just make sure they don’t eat too much sand with that spoon.

    Hundreds of parents have reviewed this sand toy set online, and they have given it a commendable 4.6-star average rating. One mom calls it “very sturdy” and “absolutely perfect for” younger kids to enjoy at the beach. Other parents also report their kids using the toys at water tables or in the pool.

    Pros: Great variety of toys, good for babies and toddlers alike, low price point

    Cons: Sifter lid does not fit bucket well

    Buy a Melissa & Doug Sunny Patch Seaside Sidekicks Sand Baking Set on Amazon for $13

    The best water gun

    The best water gun

    Stream Machine

    Why you’ll love it: The Stream Machine TL-600 Water Launcher is a low-cost, high-powered water cannon that blasts water dozens of yards across the beach, pool, or backyard.

    The simplest effective design is always the best design possible, and it doesn’t get much simpler than the design of the Stream Machine TL-600 Water Launcher.

    You stick the muzzle of this powerful water gun down into some water — be it a bucket, a pool, the Indian Ocean, or whatever — and pull back on the handle. Then you point the thing at your “foe” and push the handle forward again as hard as you can, blasting that nemesis with a super-powered jet of water. With enough effort and decent arm strength, you can send a stream of water arcing more than 70 feet away.

    Unlike with a Super Soaker, these water launchers are quick to load and fire, no prep work of pumping required. And unlike fancier multi-component and/or electric water guns, they are pretty hard to break even when treated roughly. Also, as a Stream Machine TL-600 Water Launcher costs about $12.50, you can always just replace one that finally gives out.

    One word of caution: Watch out for kids and for anyone’s eyes, because these water launchers create enough pressure to cause serious discomfort and discontent, if not an actual minor injury.

    Pros: Powerful long-range stream, easy to use, cheap yet durable

    Cons: Can cause minor eye injuries and major hurt feelings

    Buy a Stream Machine TL-600 Water Launcher on Amazon for $12.50

    The best low-impact beach game

    The best low-impact beach game

    Yard Games

    Why you’ll love it: You can play a large-than-life game of Jenga with the Yard Games Giant Tumbling Timbers set for tons of fun without too much exercise.

    Have you ever noticed that most adult beach toys are basically some variation of tossing or bouncing one object at a different object? Whether it’s cornhole, volleyball, beach football, bocce, and so forth, most beach games involve throwing stuff around, and lots of them require at least moderately intense physical activity. Ah, but not so with Giant Tumbling Timbers from Yard Games.

    This is, of course, just Jenga on a much larger scale, but the huge size of this set not only makes it a great outdoor activity, but it also increases both the level of challenge and excitement without making this a physically taxing game.

    Kids above the age of seven or eight will love playing with this set as will adults of any age. Just watch out for smaller folks when it looks like the tower will soon tumble down because a wooden block to the head is a surefire way to ruin an otherwise great day at the beach.

    The Yard Games Giant Tumbling Timbers has hundreds of reviews and a fine 4.5-star average rating on Amazon, with a customer named Tina calling this “fun full-sized game… exactly what [she] was looking for” for family fun.

    A lady named Heather said it was great for “kids and adults” alike. Other did note the rather steep price tag, but for the record, the Jenga-branded option costs fifty bucks more!

    Pros: Low-intensity fun, great for various ages, fun for the beach or use in the yard

    Cons: Injury risk from falling blocks

    Buy a Yard Games Giant Tumbling Timbers set on Amazon for $80

    The best frisbee beach game

    The best frisbee beach game

    Kan Jam

    Why you’ll love it: A good game of Kan Jam involves accurate throws, aggressive defense, and usually a lot of laughs.

    Tossing a frisbee back and forth is lots of fun, and people have been enjoying these classic toys for the better part of a century now. But simply throwing and catching a flying disc grows boring after a while, so spice things up with the Kan Jam Ultimate Disc Game.

    Kan Jam is enjoyable because it still relies on the basics of accurate frisbee tossing, yet with the added excitement of playing with a teammate and against opponents.

    Your partner can help bounce your tossed frisbee into the top of the large plastic cylinder (the “kan”) that serves as a goal, or you can earn double points by getting the disc into a slot on the front of the goal. But beware! Your opponents can knock the disc aside, robbing you of your sweet, sweet points but increasing the challenge and excitement.

    Or you can play without the intervention of the other team to make things a bit less challenging. And you can also enjoy a Kan Jam set solo by challenging yourself to improve your accuracy.

    I’ve spent hours playing Kan Jam over the years, and my only complaint about the game is that other people seem to get the frisbee into the goal more often than I do, but that’s probably more my issue than a design thing, come to think of it.

    A write up from RunnerClick called Kan Jam a great “family friendly” game that “encourages physical activity” and was “made in the USA.”

    Pros: Fun team play game, ideal for the beach or the backyard, made in America

    Cons: Frustrating for some less-than-great throwers

    Buy a Kan Jam Ultimate Disc Game set on Amazon for $32 (originally $40)

    The best beach kite

    The best beach kite


    Why you’ll love it: The Singare Octopus Kite is charming to watch up there in the skies with it’s big googly eyes and colorful streamers, plus, it’s easy to get it aloft and keep it there.

    The beach is the perfect place to fly a kite what with the open expanse of terrain for running about and with reliable breezes coming in off the water. Kites are great fun for all ages, too, making them a perfect toy for use during family trips to the shore. But a kite is no fun for anyone of any age if you can’t get the damn thing airborne, which is all too common a problem with all too many kite designs.

    The Singare Octopus Kite is ready to use right out of the bag, no assembly required, thus removing the first obstacle many people have to successful kite flight: improper construction. The large, lightweight kites catch the breeze with ease and soar high with minimal need for control input from down below.

    Thanks to the 200-foot line included with each kite, you can send your colorful octopus high in the sky. They remain easy to see even at altitude thanks to multiple bright streamers that stretch out nearly eight feet behind the “body” of the kite.

    With dozens of reviews posted, Amazon shoppers have awarded the Singare Octopus Kite a high-flying 4.4-star average rating. One buyer speaks for many when he calls them “super easy to fly” and “not too hard for a four-year-old” to fly yet still fun for his eight-year-old son, not to mention himself, the adult.

    Pros: Easy to launch, two kites come with purchase, long line and handle included

    Cons: Cheap materials but offset by cheap price

    Buy a pair of Singare Octopus Kites on Amazon for $14

    The best beach toys for playing in the sand

    The best beach toys for playing in the sand

    Green Toys

    Why you’ll love it: The Green Toys Sand Play Set comes with everything you need to build a sandcastle.

    The Green Toys Sand Play Set is small and doesn’t come with a whole lot, but it probably has the best chance of lasting a season out of any plastic beach toy set we could find, and these are, after all, the essentials.

    Really, apart from maybe a Kindle what else does a child or an adult really need for entertainment at the beach? Made from BPA-free recycled plastics, the kit includes bucket with a sturdy rope handle that won’t break, a shovel, a rake, and a sandcastle mold, which is all it takes to build the beach fortress of your wildest dreams.

    Sure, you could buy a twenty-odd set for the same price, but what’s the point? The plastic will be of low quality, and the small pieces have a good chance of finding their way home. — Owen Burke

    Pros: Well made, made from recycled plastic, BPA-free, sandcastle building essentials

    Cons: Pricey, not many pieces

    Buy the Green Toys Sand Play Set on Amazon for $20.99

    Check out our full guide to the best beach gear

    Check out our full guide to the best beach gear


    The best beach gear you can buy

    Summer is a great time to get outside and hit the beach. We’ve rounded up the best beach gear of all kinds so you don’t have to waste precious time indoors looking for good beach gear.

    Whether you need a beach umbrella, towel, chair, cooler, grill, toy set, or sunscreen, we have a pick for you.

    Click on a link to jump to a topic: