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Winter Fun Shoot in Albany, Oregon

By Vic Fogle

On December 13th the Albany, Oregon, Rifle and Pistol Club held it’s annual Full Auto Winter Fun Shoot. This was the last non-competitive full auto get-together of the year in the northwest. The monthly subgun match took place the following day on Albany’s north range.

Considering the demands upon enthusiasts’ time from Christmas shopping, necessary winter chores, and indoor activities, a larger than expected turnout made the shoot a fine success. Exact figures are unavailable, but an unofficial count found approximately 120 people in attendance around noon, and they continued to arrive until almost 4 PM, when it was over. According to a gatekeeper, approximately 90% opted for the $9 “shooter/firing line access” rather than the $5 “spectator” status.

What they found was a wide variety of machine guns. As is the case at any such shoot relatively modern guns predominated. There were all kinds of MACs, several with wooden stocks, and apparently all members of the Browning family, including FN Model “D”’s. The H&K logo appeared often. Another large genre was M16s and other 5.56s of various configurations. A fifth major grouping was that of 9mm subguns; examples included Carl Gustafs, Port Saids, M76s, PPShs, Yugos, and Uzis. I watched a shooter happily picking off bobbing 8” balloons away down range with a Maxim 08/15 twice his age, and as I left a recent arrival was unlimbering a Vickers.

Because a chilling fog limited valley visibility and kept temperatures close to freezing, it was a far from ideal shooting day, but that didn’t seem to bother people. Numerous heavy jackets and a few propane heaters showed participants, forethought, and the clubhouse fireplace (right by the food) was understandably popular. The attendees were young, and they came to shoot. Rental business by several entrepreneurs was brisk. One attractive fiftyish lady got her first taste of class 3 by emptying a 9mm buzzgun and promptly pronounced the experience “as good as sex”, thereby giving her husband considerable food for thought. He was last seen trying to convince her that at least sex lasts longer.

This considerable firepower was unleashed at numerous plastic jugs, drum lids, and balloons set up at various distances down range. A crew behind the line kept busy filling the multi-hued balloons, tying them to strings, and then tying the strings to cords that could be secured across the range, so that the balloons were buffeted by the breeze.

Safety, the number one priority, had been well planned. Painted stripes on gravel marked the firing area where the guns were set up. Just behind that was the regular paved firing line, which became a staging area and ready line. Access to either area required a “shooter” ribbon, to be worn somewhere on the back of the shooter’s jacket. Non-shooters stayed behind both areas. While not restricting the number of shooters to an absolute figure, as is the case on Knob Creek’s main firing line, this arrangement makes it possible for the owners of rental machine guns to be up on the line with the renters, coaching them, clearing misfeeds, etc. This procedure seems to work especially well where the renters are on the main firing line; at Knob Creek, of course, the bulk of the firing of rental guns occurs on a distant range, where the guns’ owners can provide instruction under less stressful circumstances. Moreover, Albany’s procedure encourages renters to shoot more, without long waits or trips to the “rental” range or exchange of shooter badges.

Another ARPC practice may also serve the needs of other clubs. Since it’s sometimes not always apparent if a machine gun is ready to fire, the standard practice at ARPC is to insert a fired 12 gauge shotshell in the breech of any uncased machine gun between usages or when moving it. The shotshell may hold up the top cover or it may hold the bolt part of the way back, but in either case, the presence of the empty shotshell, along with the absence of a belt or magazine, means that the gun is safe. A number of these shotshells can be seen in the accompanying photos.

It was obvious that the shooters appreciate the hospitality of the ARPC. The club serves a farming area of small towns and draws its membership from an extensive area. The club members are people of wide interests, and the club welcomes them all. In contradistinction to some other clubs, the response to a request for a different kind of shooting is “Why don’t we try this and see how we like it?” As a result there are programs for indoor rifle and pistol, bigbore and smallbore pistol metallic silhouette, DCM shoots to 200 yards, black power, IPSC, cowboy action, defensive shotgun, and defensive handgun. The club additionally sponsors two gun shows a year.

There is no question that machine gun shoots are the largest contributor to the club’s income. The monthly subgun shoots are fired in a series of seven bays that are deeply bermed and dug into the north side of Saddle Butte. These bays are graded and graveled, and two boast spacious covers similar to that which is being extended over most of the main range. Since these same bays are used for scenarios by IPSC and cowboy action participants-plus a number of local police organizations-a mover wire is left connected, and some barricades, doors, etc., are kept in place or stored nearby. There are, of course, stands, knock-downs of all kinds, pepper poppers, and several kinds of target holders. Scenarios are limited mainly by the imagination of the scenarists.

The high point of the machine gun program occurs with the spring shoot, a full weekend affair at both the main and north ranges. The format is for informal, open shooting most of the time on the main range, with competitions for crew-served machine guns and assault rifles held there, also. The subgun match stages are run concurrently on the north range. This shoot is surprisingly large when one considers that both Washington and California are non-class 3 states, and Idaho is almost 400 miles away. Attendance is increasing and is coming to resemble a downsized Knob Creek, minus the target cars, flame throwers, dynamite, and drums of paint reducer. There are even souvenir tee shirts available.

For those who don’t shoot the monthly subgun matches, this December get-together will provide happy memories until the spring shoot. The latter will probably be the third weekend of May, but be sure to confirm this date before coming. For more information on any shooting program or to get shoot dates, contact ARPC at Box 727, Albany, OR 97321. Voice mail is 541-924-5914. E-mail is arpc@proaxis,com, or see website at: http://www.proaxis.com/ arpc

While the club’s property is just off I-5, there are no exits there. If approaching from the north, leave I-5 at Exit 228, go left (east) 1/2 mile on Oregon 34, and turn right (south) onto Seven Mile Lane. After approximately 6 miles, turn right (west) onto Boston Mill Road and follow it to the club’s entrance, near the freeway overpass. If approaching from the south, leave I-5 at Exit 216 and turn left (west). Follow this road (Oregon 228) 2 1/2 miles to Halsey. Turn right (north) onto U.S. 99 and follow it to Shedd. At Boston Mill Road turn right (east) and go approximately 4 miles, crossing the freeway, and turn right (south) onto club property.

In the meantime, there’s lots of brass to be reloaded!

This article first appeared in Small Arms Review V1N7 (April 1998)
and was posted online on July 7, 2017

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