Twice a year for the past half-century or so, the rolling hills around the small Kentucky town of West Point have echoed with the sounds of full-auto rifles, booming explosions, and the roar of the crowds at the Knob Creek Gun Range’s Machine Gun Shoot. But while the gun range will continue its operations, this weekend will be the last hurrah for the venerable festival of firepower.
That’s right. The Knob Creek Machine Gun Shoot is coming to an end.
The April shoot was canceled because the COVID-19 pandemic, so crowds are expected to be big. WDRB started getting calls about traffic backups on Dixie Highway and Highway 44 before 8 a.m. on Friday, when people started making their way to the site.
Anyone who has ever attended the events over the past 50 years can describe feeling the vibration of the barrage of bullets during the open shoots. Those participating in the shoot take aim at a variety of targets including used appliances, abandoned vehicles, and barrels of fuel with pyrotechnic charges attached. When one of the bullets hits the barrels, there is a huge explosion and flames that last for several minutes.
One of the highlights of the twice-a-year event has been the nighttime shoots, which will thankfully live on in videos that have received hundreds of thousands of views online.
As you can see in the videos above, the Knob Creek Machine Gun Shoot is a big deal, drawing in thousands of attendees for a shooting celebration that’s become a treasured tradition for many gun owners. So why is it going away?
According to a comment on the gun range’s Facebook page, it’s not government intrusion or the rising cost of ammunition that’s to blame. The owners of the range say that they’re just ready to slow down a little.
Putting on these events twice a year has to be a major undertaking for the Sumner family, who’ve owned the range for decades. In another message on Facebook, the individual running the range’s account said that “we all agreed the work load is more than we want anymore,” while adding that “most won’t understand until they are in our shoes.”
I believe that most gun owners do understand, just as I imagine the Sumners are well aware of the sadness that many longtime attendees are feeling this weekend. The Knob Creek Machine Gun Shoot has become a legendary experience in the 2A community, and while it’s not the only machine gun shoot around, it’s perhaps the biggest and certainly the longest-running event of its kind.
So when last tracer round is fired on Saturday night, the 50-year history of the Knob Creek Machine Gun Shoot will come to an end. I know I’m not alone in hoping that after a little break the Sumners decide to bring the event back, but for the moment it sounds like they’re not planning on revisiting their decision. Thankfully the range itself will remain open for business, and I’m still keeping my fingers crossed that we haven’t heard the last enormous boom echo across the hills of Bullitt County.