Paul Winters has been coming to the Knob Creek Gun Shoot since 1992 to blast away at targets with machine gun rounds.
“This is Disneyland with guns,” Winters said of the two-day event held twice a year in the hills of Kentucky near the hamlet of West Point.
“This is a place to come compete and have fun with your buddies,” he said.
The Knob Creek Machine Gun Shoot and Military Gun Show was started in 1965 by Biff Sumner and a few friends who were having a cookout and firing off weapons for fun.
It has evolved into the biggest private machine gun shoot in the world, attracting thousands of automatic weapons enthusiasts from around the United States and abroad.
General admission is $15 a day for adults and $5 for children under 12.
Hearing and eye protection is strongly recommended.
The rapid fire thumping of automatic gunfire is never far away as machine guns riddle abandoned cars, old appliances and other targets with bullet holes at the Knob Creek Gun Range.
Machine gun owners can reserve spots on the main firing line, but there is a waiting list of up to 10 years.
Visitors who don’t own a weapon can rent a machine gun — cash only — if they sign a waiver and are over 18 years old.
“You can shoot anything that goes bang if you got enough money for rental,” said Winters.
There are shooting competitions featuring sub-machine guns, shotguns and pistols.
At the Military Gun Show that accompanies the shoot, vendors sell everything from guns to ammunition. An extensive amount of German World War II memorabilia is also on offer.
Each day ends with a “night shoot” with thousands of tracers bouncing off their targets into the night sky and setting off fireworks attached to barrels of fuel.
Kenny Sumner is the current owner and manager of the Knob Creek Gun Range.
“It is in the United States because we have that luxury of being able to own guns, especially machine guns,” Sumner said.
“There is a little paperwork that you have to go through — background checks on the full auto stuff,” he added.
“But Title 1 guns, you just fill out your paperwork, they do a background check, if you pass the background check you can have a gun.”
Title 1 weapons are ordinary firearms such as rifles, pistols and shotguns.
Winters said gun enthusiasts from other countries come to Knob Creek “just to play.”
“Because they don’t have those abilities,” he said. “They don’t have those rights.”
The next machine gun shoot takes place in October.