Knob Creek Machine-Gun Shoot
Guns available for rental vary, from staple American firearms such as the M-16 and M-14 to the AK-47 and Uzi and rare vintage weapons like the German MG-42.
Calling all military history buffs and military enthusiasts! Are you tired of just reading about military weapons? Are you yearning to see them in action? Have you dreamt of being able to fire a real machine gun yourself, of being able to control the raw, destructive firepower of a .50-caliber Browning or MG-42? If so, then the Knob Creek Machine-Gun Shoot and Military Gun Show is a dream come true!
The Knob Creek Machine-Gun Shoot, along with the coinciding Knob Creek Military Gun Show, is a semi-annual weekend event held near West Point, Kentucky, every April and October. The shoot and gun show usually span three days, beginning around 9 am on a Friday, and ending at 4 pm on a Sunday and includes a five-hour-long night shoot on Saturday.
The shoot is attended by thousands of people from around the world. The wide variety of powerful and exotic weaponry on display—from miniguns to PPShs to .50-caliber sniper rifles—makes the Machine-Gun Shoot a veritable feast for the eyes, if a little rough on the ears. The amount of military weaponry on display at the Knob Creek Shoot is more than most civilians will see in a lifetime.
According to the official brochure, “The Machine Gun (sic) Shoot itself, consists of four rounds of firing at a wide range of appliances, vehicles, pyramids of tires, and barrels of fuel with pyrotechnic charges attached. The pyrotechnic charges are then . . . set off . . . Creating large and small mushroom clouds and fire balls . . . ”
The majority of the shooting is conducted on a large upper range. Shooters must pre-register their weapons and be issued range passes before being allowed to participate in the shoot. Firing is strictly timed and monitored by security personnel and is usually conducted on a “half-hour on, half-hour off” basis, commencing at 9 am on the Friday the event begins.
Besides the upper range, there is a smaller, lower range where machine-gun rentals are available for anyone who wants to have their own chance to fire a real military weapon. Guns available for rental vary, from staple American firearms such as the M-16 and M-14 to foreign firearms such as the AK-47 and Uzi and rare vintage weapons like the German MG-42. Firing 30 rounds (one magazine) from an M-16 or AK-47 costs $40, while triggering 50 rounds with an MG-42 costs $65.
Flamethrowers can also be rented at the upper range, for the hefty price of $195. Gatling-gun rentals and scenic helicopter rides aboard a UH-1 Huey helicopter are also available.
The Knob Creek Military Gun Show is held in conjunction with the Machine-Gun Shoot. Located in a large, lighted pavilion adjacent to the upper range firing line and the Knob Creek main office, the show allows participants to buy, sell and trade Class III firearms (machine guns, short-barreled shotguns or rifles, and other weapons controlled under Title 2 of the 1968 Firearms Act). Far more than weapons are on sale at the gun show, however; it is an eclectic event in every sense of the word, with vendors’ wares ranging from gun parts to militaria to surplus to meteorites. Even a WWII 25mm French anti-tank gun was for sale at the most recent show.
The Fall 2008 Shoot was held October 10 – 12. The dates for next year’s Spring and Fall Shoots are April 3 – 5 and October 9 – 11.
Photos left to right: 1. The author fires an AK-47; 2. The firing line; 3. Flamethrowner rental; 4. Aftermath at the upper range; 5. Knob Creek Military Gun Show; 6. The author’s brother with an MG-42; 7. Twin MG-42 anti-aircraft gun.