Knob Creek Machine Gun Shoot Attracts Neo-Nazis and Other Extremists
The Knob Creek machine gun shoot attracts people of all kinds, including neo-Nazis and other extremists. But Folks get along just fine as they revel in an orgy of firepower.
by David Holthouse
WEST POINT, Ky. -- Wearing orange foam earplugs to muffle the nearby thunder of relentless automatic weapons fire, a grizzled man with SS lightning bolt tattoos on his forearms pulls a little red wagon loaded with rifle ammunition. Carefully picking his way through the teeming crowd, he passes table after table laden with machine guns, gas masks, combat knives, war memorabilia and bomb-making guides. The man sheds his camouflage tactical vest to reveal a worn black T-shirt emblazoned with a Totenkopf, the Death's Head symbol of the Waffen SS. Then he parks his wagon to join a huddle of shoppers surrounding a hard-faced spokeswoman from Valkyrie Arms who's extolling the virtues of the Olympia, Wash.-based arms maker's new product, the Valkyrior 556 Rotary Gun.
"It's .223-caliber, six barrels, basically you're looking at a hand-cranked mini-gun," she says.
The man asks, "What's the rate of fire?"
"Just as fast as you can crank it," she replies. "We just shipped a load of these babies to civilian security contractors in Iraq for convoy protection. When I go to sleep tonight, I'll dream of towel heads splattering all over the place."
"We need to ship a few to the border and start splattering Mexicans," he says.
Then he picks up his wagon handle and continues browsing the wares. Two hundred yards away, around the Knob Creek Gun Range's lower shooting area, hundreds of men, women and children are lined up like kids at Disneyland to rent and shoot M-16s, Uzis, AK-47s, SPAS 12 full-auto shotguns, vintage Tommy Guns and Heckler & Koch MP-5s. A teenaged boy wearing a shirt with a grinning Jane Fonda and the words "Commie Traitor Bitch" pays $25 to rip 20 bullets through a .30-06 caliber BAR (Browning Automatic Rifle). "Man," he says, grinning and shaking the BAR owner's hand. "That's one hell of a rush."
At a former naval proving ground near Fort Knox, the hills are alive with the sound of gunfire, as the semi-annual Knob Creek Machine Gun Shoot gets under way. Billed as "the nation's largest machine gun shoot and military gun show," the Knob Creek festival, which takes place every April and October, is a frenzied exhibition of firepower to rival a bad day in Mogadishu. On the upper range, which is reserved for heavy weaponry, the rental guns include a belt-fed M-60 ($40 for 50 rounds, $75 for 100), a 1917 British-made Vickers Mark 1, and a Civil War-era Gatling gun. The main attraction, though, is a six-barrel M134 Minigun, which is powered by a General Electric motor and sends 4,000 rounds of hot lead per minute downrange. Retail price: roughly $225,000.
Every half hour or so, the upper range master declares a cease-fire. Festival workers remove the smoldering wreckage of junker cars and household appliances and then freshen up the supply of targets. During these breaks, a flamethrower operator suits up rental customers in silver stunt man suits and lets 'em rip for $195 per tank. Nearby, the crew of a privately owned field artillery gun pumps huge shells into a denuded hillside, drawing cheers from the bleachers. The concussive force of the explosions trigger hundreds of car alarms inside the vehicles lining both sides of a rural highway half a mile away, up a muddy hill and across a creek from the Knob Creek Gun Range entrance. The whoops and buzzes of the alarms are nearly drowned out by the dragon's roar of the flamethrower, and then sonically obliterated by dozens of machine guns that erupt when the upper range master announces, "Go hot!"