COVID-19 has really sucked the jelly out of our donut this year with many great events canceled due to the pandemic. The latest victim, perhaps the most epic gun event of them all, is the Knob Creek machine gun shoot originally scheduled for Oct. 10 and 11. 

Normally, I’d be meeting up with my friends at the event for three days of shopping, shooting and stress-release through extreme firepower. Upwards of 20,000 other folks would have been doing the same. But alas, it's canceled so here I am, writing about it. Knob Creek Dreaming, I suppose.


"This Range is Hot!" (Photo: Ben Philippi /

The first time I attended the Mecca of gun shoots was in 2010. I’d watched an episode of Mail Call with R. Lee Ermey featuring the shoot. Gunny made the event look so out of this world that I had to see it for myself.

The following October, I made the 13-hour drive to Kentucky and immersed myself in the sights and sounds. It was surreal. Everywhere I looked was camo, ammo, and guns. Smoke wafted over the grandstand and the roar of gunfire was almost continuous. I spent a great deal of time shopping in the pole barn that was packed with tables of guns, goods, trinkets, and memorabilia for sale.


The well-armed and friendly campground security. (Photo: Ben Philippi / 

After dinner, I waited for three hours to get a front row spot to watch the world famous night shoot. I was not disappointed.

As a few dozen machine guns roared into action, the night sky lit up with tracers and the explosions rocked you back on your heels. The raw power of the machines unleashing their might in unison was truly awe inspiring. Douglas MacArthur's famous quote ran through my brain, “Whoever said the pen is mightier than the sword obviously never encountered automatic weapons.”


The "War Dogs" of Camp FUBAR. (Photo: Ben Philippi /

The following seven years in row saw me make the pilgrimage to the Creek. There, I camped with friends I met at the event. We always occupied the same spot -- our camp nickname, "Camp FUBAR” and our group, “War Dogs."

We shared the campground with a hundred or so other like-minded folks of all ages -- vets, gun-lovers, and explorers. Camp was within earshot of the live range. In the evening, you could sit back and listen to the thunder on the range and watch tracer rounds ricocheting up into the deep blue sky like strange red and green shooting stars. Well into the night, we sat around a roaring fire drinking beer, sharing stories, and enjoying the comradery.


The Sumner Family. (Photo: Ben Philippi /

In 2015, I got to know the Sumner family who run Knob Creek Range and also host the event. What started in 1965 with a few friends getting together on a Sunday afternoon for a cookout and to shoot select-fire weapons, turned into the biggest machine gun shoot in the world.

I was fortunate to photograph the Sumner family for my book We The People, published in 2016. I filmed many videos at the Knob Creek Range over the years, and even made a documentary about the event and the Sumners in 2018.

I think I can speak for everyone when I say that I am sick and tired of COVID-19. I hope things can get back to normal in 2021. Here's looking forward to next April's shoot at the Creek.

The entrance to the Knob Creek Range in West Point, Kentucky. (Photo: Ben Philippi /
H&K MP5s for sale at the event. (Photo: Ben Philippi /
American Huey 369 offers rides to the public at the event. (Photo: Ben Philippi / 
Smoke hangs over the range between volleys. (Photo: Ben Philippi /
The Knob Creek machine gun shoot is a great place to shop for hard to find stuff. (Photo: Ben Philippi /
Barrels and other items for sale. (Photo: Ben Philippi /
A Browning M1919 for sale. (Photo: Ben Philippi /
Where else can you buy a t-shirt and a minigun at the same table? (Photo: Ben Philippi /
Ammo belts ready for the next volley. (Photo: Ben Philippi /
A father and son enjoy the event. (Photo: Ben Philippi /
An M60 and ammo belt. (Photo: Ben Philippi /
A DShK. (Photo: Ben Philippi /
A subgun competitor at the lower range. (Photo: Ben Philippi /
Smoke hangs over Knob Creek during the shoot. (Photo: Ben Philippi /