Salon has a story on the “Gun Culture’s Burning Man“, the Knob Creek Machinegun Shoot near Louisville, KY.
The Knob Creek Shoot is best understood as American gun culture’s Burning Man. Like the annual art and music festival in the Nevada desert, it has spawned a community that stretches across the country, even as the defining event keeps a regional heart and spirit. The same way “Burners” meet up locally throughout a calendar year anchored by the August pilgrimage to Black Rock, Nevada, “Knob Creekers” stay in touch between biannual shoots. They socialize online, meet up at gun ranges, and organize Knob Creek crews. Like Burning Man, the Shoot has been around long enough to become a multigenerational rite of passage. At the range reserved for small arms like Uzis and Mac-10s, it is common to see a father-son ritual of dads taking their boys to fire their first machine gun, a sort of ballistic bar mitzvah. The grass parking lots around Knob Creek are dotted with tents, canopies and clusters of folding NASCAR seats, around which friends fire up barbeque and tailgate to a nearby soundtrack of simulated war. Ask them why they come, often using vacation days to do so, and they’ll tell you, “it’s a hoot,” that it’s “all the stuff you want to do in your backyard but can’t,” and that it’s a chance to see old friends and “get your hands on the big guns.”…
…The most obvious parallel between Knob Creek and Burning Man is the way both events culminate in a cathartic nighttime fire. Burning Man peaks with fireworks and a wooden effigy bonfire. The Shoot’s big finale begins at sundown on its second day, when downrange targets are larded with explosive charges and surrounded with brimming drums of diesel oil. After the setting of the sun and the singing of many patriotic songs, a firing line of machine guns and artillery pieces light up the night sky with a deafening and mesmerizing pyrotechnic barrage. It is, as the Knob Creek Shoot brochure boasts, a scene featuring “giant, explosive mushroom clouds like fireballs from Hell!” Thousands of tracer bullets crisscross the field and ricochet off their targets at what seem like improbable angles. Watching their pinball trajectories could be a lesson in the tragic geometry of urban gun violence, where cars, street signs, and fire hydrants often send bullets on new line paths far from their intended targets.
Looks like a lot of fun!
Salon thinks that Burning Man has no political consequence, and neither does this party for machine gun enthusiasts:
So long as these weapons and the “hosing down operations” to which they are suited remain confined to rural gun ranges, the Shoot doesn’t signify much beyond all of the smoke and the fire… for all its neo-Nazi apparel, neo-Confederate Mad Max fantasies and eardrum destroying fury, the larger machine gun subculture has settled into ritualized gun-range play dates where the weapons, which have been banned from entering civilian circulation since 1986, are as much museum pieces as weapons. History tells us to take seriously the record number of Patriot and Militia groups sprouting up around institutions like Knob Creek. But as a self-contained celebration of the machine gun, the country’s biggest Shoot is of roughly the same political consequence as the party at Burning Man. Which is another way of saying none at all
The next Knob Creek shoot is April 11-13, 2014. You can camp on the property, or there are RV hookups at a nearby KOA.
If you can’t make it to Kentucky, you can always try Juplaya…