Sadly, the final Knob Creek machine gun shoot will be held this coming weekend on Oct. 8 and 9, 2021. It will mark the end of an unforgettable era. If you are unable to attend, don't worry, Guns.com will be attending and filming. So stay tuned.
MACHINE GUN PICNICS
It all began in 1965 when Biff Sumner invited a few friends over to the gun range in West Point, Kentucky, he'd bought a year earlier. All of his friends owned automatic guns. They cooked squirrel and rabbit and fired their guns at a variety of targets and enjoyed the day.
Word got out, and more machine gunners joined in on the fun. At one point, Sumner decided to make things a little more exciting. Instead of shooting at traditional targets, he bought some dynamite at the local hardware store and made reactive targets. Fast traveling bullets set off the charges sending tires flying up over the hills. People got a real kick out of it. "There's probably still some tires hanging in the trees up there," said Kenny Sumner, Biff's eldest son.
The event grew gradually. Word spread and it's always fun shooting and being able to talk about guns with other people. "It just growed and growed and growed," said Biff. By 1980, Biff wanted to focus on a few of his other businesses. He asked his son Kenny if he wanted to run the range. Kenny reluctantly agreed.
KENNY TAKES CHARGE
By this point, the range was fairly well established. There was a regular clientele. The machine gun picnics were getting bigger, and some of Kenny's friends suggested he start selling tickets to cover the costs. Considering how much work went into organizing the shoots and keeping everyone safe, he decided it was a good idea. He also changed the name to the Knob Creek Machine Gun Shoot and started holding them twice a year.
Not long after that, friends suggested that Kenny invite vendors to sell their military wares at the event. Again, Kenny heeded their advice. He put up a few army tents and had his first military trade show. The event continued to grow, but then something happened that brought it to the world stage.
In 2008, R. Lee Ermey, or Gunny, showed up to film an episode of his TV show "Mail Call" at the Knob Creek Machine Gun Shoot. His excitement was palpable. He did the full tour and got behind a variety of machine guns and let them rip.
That episode of "Mail Call" brought a great deal of attention to the event, and soon crowds were in the tens of thousands. People came from all over the world to see what the Second Amendment was all about.
It was also how I caught wind of the event. I was blown away by how much fun the boys were having down in Kentucky. I had to check it out. The next fall event found me driving the 12 hours to attend.
MY FIRST TIME
I had no idea what to expect. I was already into guns, but witnessing this event got me fully hooked.
I got lost in the thunder of the machine guns and the smell of gunpowder wafting over a sea of tables filled with antiques, ammo, gadgets, and T-shirts. Every few minutes, a Vietnam-era Huey helicopter raced overhead, sending the slapping sound of the rotor blades reverberating through the air. All around me, camo-clad spectators gleefully took in the sights and sounds.
On display on the firing line were hundreds of machine guns, some of them incredibly rare and worth small fortunes. The owners were happy to chat about them over the security fence, and they did not hold back when it came time to shoot. They ran magazines and belts through them like there was no tomorrow, leaving their barrels smoking as they cooled. The event was designed to let shooters let loose twice a year.
But the most impressive part of the show by far were the night shoots. I waited two hours to stand in the front row. Once it was dark, the machine gunners advance to the line with loaded guns. There was a countdown, and the lights everywhere were turned off when a bullhorn blasted.
The night then erupted into a sea of tracer fire and thunder. Dozens of drums half full with diesel were ignited by rounds slamming into sticks of dynamite. An immense fireball filled the night, and your senses tingled. It was absolute heaven for anyone who was a fan of extreme firepower and pyrotechnics.
That first event, I camped in my car in a field adjacent to the range. I wasn't alone. There were plenty of tents and trailers. At night, large fires roared and people mingled. The air was cool in October. You could see your breath. I quickly made friends with a group of freedom-loving guys and gals, and I've stayed in touch with them ever since.
Overall, my first Knob Creek Machine Gun Shoot outdid my wildest dreams. It was one of those rare times that a highly anticipated show was everything I expected and more. It blew my mind. Over the course of the next twelve years, I attended regularly.
I was also fortunate enough to get to know the Sumner family. They own the range and run the event. In 2018, I made a short documentary for Guns.com about the history of the Knob Creek machine gun shoot. You can see it here.
It’s hard to believe that this event is coming to a close. It was, in my opinion, the greatest Second Amendment event in America, and quite possibly the world.
But alas, all good things must come to an end. I'm grateful that the Big Sandy Shoot in Arizona continues on. I'd personally like to thank the Sumners for all their hard work. I wish them all the best in the coming years.
If you can't make it to the final shoot this coming weekend, I'll be there filming. So, stay tuned to Guns.comfor some exclusive content from the final Knob Creek Machine Gun Shoot.