Machine Gun Shoot - Knob Creek, Kentucky
The Machine Gun Shoot is a bi-annual event, typically held on the second weekend of April and October and draws nearly 20,000 people. The Machine Gun Shoot itself consists of three days of machine gun shooting, dealer displays, shooting competitions and a spectacular Saturday Night Shoot.
The rural Kentucky setting of the Machine Gun Shootout, coincidentally just north of Fort Knox, consists of small homes set into rolling hills, tobacco crop, and little churches scattered here and there. A sign outside a Baptist church read, "Aint God Good." The gun range, accessible only by a single lane bridge, would be the last place standing if America ever found herself at war on home turf.
When I arrived at the gates on Thursday we were met with a scene reminiscent of a military base. Giant camouflage military vehicles were parked on the side of the roads, people were dressed in military clothing, and almost everyone seemed to have a gun slung around their shoulders.
The next morning we arrived at the range and were met with the echoing booms of machine guns. By 8 a.m. the main range was full of men blasting away at targets like refrigerators, propane tanks, boats, and old cars. Anyone can rent a machine gun and blow some things away–as long as you can reload the gun. I saw an eight-year-old shaking violently behind an M-50 as he held on for dear life, firing five seconds worth of ammo for a hefty $100.
Saturday evening the main shooters line the range for the famous Night Shoot. The heavy shooting continues through the night with 30-minute shooting sessions at one-hour intervals. The shooters use tracer bullets which leave beautiful red and yellow streaks in the sky. There are barrels of gasoline for the shooters to hit. From where I was taking the pictures, almost a football field away, I could feel the heat of those explosions. The night sky lit up with flares, tracer bullets, explosions, camera flashes, and a beautiful moon resting over the valley.
After two days of constant noise, smoke, and fire, I was spent. The machine gun shoot had worn my senses thin, but I had loved every minute of it.