By Frank Iannamico
Fall in Central Kentucky; mild weather, the leaves are beginning to turn their autumn colors: just beautiful. Approximately thirty miles south of Louisville at the Knob Creek Range in West Point, the smell of campfires, burning gun powder, accompanied by the sounds of machine gun fire and a Huey helicopter flying over: simply outstanding! The weather was very pleasant for the 2010 fall shoot; temperatures in the mid to high 70s, clear blue skies, lots of sunshine and accompanying dust that comes with dry weather. The dust can be annoying, but it's still better than mud, which at the Creek is usually one or the other.
One of the big attractions at Knob Creek is the huge gun show, located inside the pole barn and the surrounding out buildings. All the major dealers in the country set up at the show, and whatever NFA or military related item you are looking for can probably be found there. Ammunition was plentiful this year and in most cases reasonably priced. By Sunday, many of the vendors were sold out of the more popular calibers. Also reappearing after a prolonged shortage, were reloading components to include reasonably priced primers and powder.
Some unique items were being offered in the show, including Dan Richardson's M1903 Springfield rifle fitted with a very rare Pederson Device. The Pederson Device was a top secret "wonder weapon" developed during World War I to convert the bolt-action '03 rifle into a semiautomatic weapon firing a short .30 caliber pistol cartridge. The device fed from a vertical 40-round magazine that extended upward from the receiver. The war ended before the Pederson devices were fielded and all were ordered to be destroyed shortly after the war ended. The Pederson Device and rifle are for sale and if interested call Dan at (423) 596-4180. Mark Mann who does business as "The Rifleman" had a pair of rare Broomhandle pistols on his table, an original Chinese made .45 caliber model and a German-made slabside - a large ring hammer C96 produced for the 1899 Italian Navy contract. For more information contact Mark at (478) 784-2767. For MAC fans John Thedford of NFA Firearms, had an original Powder Springs .380 caliber, Ingram Model 11 submachine gun, serial number 60, and an RPB operational hardcase on his table. NFA Firearms (239)-200-5600.
Part of the draw to the "Crick" for many is to become reacquainted with old friends and make new ones. Many new and familiar faces were present including Knob Creek regular, renowned author Dolf Goldsmith. In addition, Linda Farmer and her son Jeremiah were there. Many "old timers" will remember Linda from the days when she and her late husband J.D. Farmer, founded and ran Hard Times Armory. Linda was also a part of the National Firearms Association that was started in 1987, to represent the NFA community after the 1986 machine gun manufacturing ban.
Many new, innovative firearms products were seen at the show that included the Tactical Brass Bag by TacticalBrassRecovery.com. The high capacity, collapsible brass catcher bag (holds up to 240 5.56 cases) is designed to be used with an AR-15 style weapon fitted with a Picatinny rail system. The brass catcher does not harm the weapon's finish or interfere with any optics or mounts. The folks at MGI were present with their innovative modular upper and lower receivers for the AR-15/M16 family of small arms. The MGI modular system makes the popular rifles easily adaptable to numerous calibers and magazines in minutes by changing out the magazine well and barrel. The company also offers a number of related upgrade products for the rifles including a quick-change barrel system. MGI can be reached at (207) 945-5441 or visit their website at www.MGImilitary.com. Troy Edmund of the BarrelXChange was offering his latest innovation, a 76-round drum magazine for the 5.45 AK-74 rifle based on the easy to load "Chinese" pattern drums. For more information on the AK-74 drum and other products visit their website at www.barrelxchange.com. The folks from the Shotgun News and Small Arms Review magazine were both at the show handing out complimentary issues of their respective publications.
Sub Gun Matches
One the other side of the Knob Creek facility, the subgun matches were held with a course designed to delight and challenge the shooters. Over the years the skill level of the shooters has increased dramatically. Just observing the finesse and accuracy of many of the competitors is enjoyable, their skills honed by many hours of practice preparing for the semiannual event. Top shooter/fastest time was Andy Blaschik using a Beretta PM12, competing in the open bolt/optic sights category. Andy's time was a blazing 45.78 seconds. The second best time of the day was 61.56 seconds recorded by Todd Louis with an UZI, competing in the open bolt/iron sights group. Jeremy Parker took top honors in both the closed bolt/iron sights and closed bolt/optic sight classes using a 9mm M16 with times of 73.71 and 69.29 respectively. Top female shooter was Joyce Carrere with a Port Said (Swedish-K) in the open bolt/iron sights class with a time of 131.92 seconds.
Machine Gun Rentals
Following the trail to the opposite side of the subgun match range, is the machine gun rental range, where spectators, for a modest fee, are afforded the chance to fire their choice of weapons from a wide variety of popular machine guns.
The Huey Helicopter
Up near the KCR campground area, the folks from the American Huey 369th Organization flew in from Peru, Indiana to offer Creek attendees rides in their Vietnam era Bell UH-1H "Huey" helicopter number 70-16369. The official name of the Bell helicopter is the Iroquois, but it became better known by its nickname "Huey" derived from its model designation UH-1 (Utility Helicopter). The sight and unique sound of the Huey made it an indelible icon of the Vietnam War. Huey 369 was originally assigned to the 498th Medical Company where it was first utilized as a Medevac Air Ambulance or "Dustoff" aircraft during the Vietnam War. The Huey helicopter has been credited with saving the lives of many battlefield casualties by quickly evacuating wounded troops out of harm's way to rear area medical facilities for treatment.
The Firing Line
The firing line was bristling with machine guns and small-arms of every description, including several of the crowd-pleasing miniguns and cannons. Despite the increase in price and decrease in availability of ammunition experienced in recent times, it was certainly not evident by the amount fire being put on the targets downrange. Knob Creek range personal kept the shooters supplied with numerous targets to include vehicles, appliances and boats... rigged with explosives. Diligent KCR range officers were present to keep everyone safe. The night shoot, which is like a fireworks display on steroids, was awesome as usual with the sight and sound of thousands of tracers, incendiary rounds and huge explosions lighting up the Kentucky sky. The Saturday night shoot can only be described as exhilarating, and something that one just doesn't grow tired of seeing.
Other Area Attractions
While visiting the Knob Creek Range there are other interesting things to see in the surrounding area. The Fort Knox Army base "Home of Armor" is just southwest of Knob Creek on the Dixie Highway (route 31W) near the city of Radcliff. For visitors, the facility features the General George S. Patton Museum and the United States Gold Bullion Depository. Unfortunately, the Patton museum is currently being down-sized and many of the exhibits are being transferred to Fort Benning, Georgia. Despite the change, there are still a number of interesting displays. On the way to Fort Knox there are numerous surplus stores scattered along the Dixie Highway. Traveling north back from Fort Knox on the Dixie Highway, just a few miles past Route 44 that leads to the Knob Creek range, is Mark's Feed Store located in Valley Station. Mark's is famous for their outstanding barbecue rib dinners and southern hospitality and is a favorite eatery of many Knob Creek shooters and vendors.
The Knob Creek shoot and show is a semiannual event held in April and October. If you are interested in attending there are more details on their website at http://www.knobcreekrange.com/ as well as a list of area motels. Be advised that motel reservations need to be made well in advance of the event. The Knob Creek spring shoot is scheduled for April 8, 9 and 10, 2011. Eye and ear protection is highly recommended.
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