Gun lovers descended on Kentucky for the biggest private machine gun event in the world at the weekend, with shooters given one objective – destroy everything.
Around 20,000 thrill-seekers fired Tommy Guns, AK-47s and Uzis at abandoned vehicles and barrels of fuel strapped with pyrotechnic charges to create ‘fireballs from hell’.
Paul Winters, who has been going to the Knob Creek Gun Shoot and Military Gun Show near West Point since 1992, said: ‘This is Disneyland with guns.’
A man prepares to fire a mini-gun on the main firing line, with wrecked washing machines, sofas, chairs and tires litter the background
An explosion goes off at the start of the night shoot on the main firing line at the Knob Creek Machine Gun Shoot and Military Gun show in Bullitt County near West Point, Kentucky on April 12
A man fires a machine gun on the main firing line during the Knob Creek Machine Gun Shoot. Rounds fly out of the side of the fully automatic weapon
A father and son explore a booth setup by Americans that reenact typical German ‘Fallschirmjager’ (paratrooper) soldiers of the Second World War. The weapon shown is a German MG42, which stands for Mauser general-purpose machine gun. It was designed in Nazi Germany and used extensively by the Wehrmacht and the Waffen-SS during the second half of the war. The weapon was well-suited against infantry, but it lacked the much larger M2’s anti-fortification and anti-vehicle capabilities
An employee uses a flame thrower as an explosion goes off during a shooting session. At old meet ups, visitors used to be able to rent a flame thrower to use, but now they are handled by a select few. Machine gun owners can reserve spots on the main firing line, but the waiting list is up to 10 years. On a secondary firing line other vendors rent out machine guns to anyone willing to pay for a few rounds
People look on after an explosion goes off and a man fires a machine gun on the main firing line at the shoot on the weekend
Two men wear ear defenders while they fire machine guns on the main firing line on the weekend. The bottom gun pictured appears to be an M2 Browning, with more modern guns firing above
‘This is a place to come compete and have fun with your buddies,’ he added.
The shoot, dubbed a ‘second amendment success story’, was started by Biff Sumner in 1965 along with a few friends who were having a cookout and firing off weapons for fun.
The two-day event – held in April and October – has evolved into the biggest event of its kind in the world, attracting thousands of automatic weapons enthusiasts from across the US and abroad.
A child wearing a baseball cap holds up a piece of charred metal after weapons such as machine guns were used to obliterate objects such as water tanks (center) and fuel barrels which exploded
A visitors holding an unloaded gun stands talking to friends near a destroyed car on the main firing line during a break in the shooting. Smoke still billows out from the bonnet of the vehicle and parts of it lay scattered meters away
People look on as a small vintage field cannon in use on the main firing line. Next to it appears to be a gun mounted on a quad bike-style vehicle which is covered by the smoke and orange glint from the cannon’s shot
The power of the artillery on show is demonstrated by a safe – featuring a smiley face – being riddled with bullet holes on the main firing line. It once sat on a wooden pallet, but that was destroyed by the bullets. Behind it, a group of men assess the damage done to a raised car
Shooters with machine guns commence firing, with mounted ones including Type 85s, a Type 67 and M2 Brownings. Some men use historical hand-held automatic guns and choose to shoot from the shoulder
The rapid thumping sound of automatic gunfire is never far away as machine guns riddle abandoned cars, old appliances and other targets with bullet holes on the range.
Machine gun owners can reserve spots on the main firing line, but the event is so popular that there is a waiting list of up to 10 years.
Visitors who do not own a weapon can rent a machine gun – paying cash only – if they sign a waiver and are over 18 years old.
The can take part on a secondary firing line if they are willing to pay for the rounds and gun rental.
Machine guns are for rent at the Knob Creek Machine Gun Shoot. Title 1 guns can be bought in the US by being background checked and filling out paperwork
A father and his two sons – dressed in camouflage – speak with a vendor at the Knob Creek Machine Gun Shoot and Military Gun Show
A boy walks through the main firing line during a break in the shooting. The scene resembles a war zone but is part of a biannual event run by a family
People look at a destroyed car on the main firing line. One man takes a picture of the destruction, while another appears to wince
Different types of guns for rent are seen at a machine gun rental stand include a Heckler & Koch HK33 assault rifle, a yu60AK, an MP40 sub-machine gun, which was made by the Nazis in the Second World War, an FN F2000 NATO bullpup assault rifle, designed in Belgium, a Heckler & Koch G36 assault rifle, a 9mm AK-74 and an M4 assault rifle
‘You can shoot anything that goes bang if you got enough money for rental,’ said Mr Winters.
He claimed gun enthusiasts from other countries flock to the area ‘just to play.’
He added: ‘Because they don’t have those abilities, they don’t have those rights.’
For the more experienced gunner, there are shooting competitions featuring sub-machine guns, shotguns and pistols.
A man wears ear plugs as he fires an Uzi in the sub-machine gun shooting competition. The camera catches the moment rounds fly out of the small weapon. Uzis are a family of Israeli open-bolt, blowback-operated submachine guns. It was one of the first weapons to use a telescoping bolt design – allowing the magazine to be housed in the pistol grip for a shorter weapon
Men and woman who are visiting the popular shooting festival walk past destroyed barrels and appliances on the main firing line looking for souvenirs during a break
Old and new machine guns sit on the main firing line. Some of the older contraptions are made of metal and wood and others towards the far end are not even mounted on a platform. They are in the style of a Second World War machine gun, which would be close to the ground to avoid enemy fire
The view from a derelict car shows visitors on the main firing range surveying the damage caused. Bullet holes riddle the car, and feature a number of different shapes and sizes depending on the caliber of weapon used
Hundreds of spent shells are seen at the base of a machine gun on the main firing line after it was used to blow up fuel cans and abandoned cars
Spectators film tracers fro machine guns during the night shoot on the main firing line at the Knob Creek Machine Gun Shoot and Military Gun show. They stand well clear of the live fire which has exploded fuel cans with pyrotechnical charges strapped to them and lit up the field
Each day ends with a ‘night shoot’, where thousands of tracers bounce off their targets into the night sky and set off fireworks attached to barrels of fuel.
But there is also a more peaceful side to the meet up, with the attached Military Gun Show featuring old hands flogging an extensive amount of memorabilia from the First World War.
The opportunity is also there to buy a new or old gun at the show, with vendors selling unique guns and ammunition to the public.
A man walks past a vendor selling inactive Rocket Propelled Grenades (RPGs) for between £200 and £900. Featured is the RPG7, which is an anti-tank weapon and has become the most widely used anti-armor weapon in the world due to it being low cost and effective. They are designed in
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.’
A sign advertising a chance for visitors to shoot a machine gun is seen at one of the vendor stands as part of the Military Gun Show. An ammunition belt which is a device used to retain and feed cartridges into a firearm lies over the table next to
A man looks down the sight of a machine gun before firing. He wears ear defenders and holds the ammunition belt off the ground as he fires
A golden cannon sits next to the red, white and black flag of the Nazi party. The items appear to be for sale, with small sticky labels on them with prices
A man loads bullets into clips at a machine gun rental stand. He is surrounded by hundreds of rounds which he pulls out of an ammunition box. There are piles magazines, which have been ordered into boxes
A shooter fires on a car which has had its front raised on a fuel barrel. Behind it a pick-up truck is ablaze and both are littered with bullet holes
Amid all the violence, women wait for customers at a back sale inside the Knob Creek gun shop. Rows and rows of guns stack the shelves behind them
A woman waits for customers at her stand, with large weapons sitting on top of a large United States Navy flag. She has nine larger weapons on show and a smaller one
A man holding an ammunition box and gun speaks with a vendor. A half US, half Confederate flag hangs from the wall at the back of the pop-up shop
The show has pop-up shops where visitors and regular gun users can buy equipment such as Title 1 weapons. This includes which rifles, pistols and shotguns
Shooters have lunch and rest on the main firing line during a break on Friday. The show happens in April and October and costs $15 a day for adults and $5 for children under 12
A gun clip is seen in a box of ammunition at a machine gun rental stand. The shooters get through thousands of rounds of ammunition over the weekend
Children watch on as people fire machine guns on the main firing line during the Knob Creek Machine Gun Shoot. They also wear ear defenders, despite being a few meters away
A man holds his rifle over his shoulder as he walks past vendors at the Military Gun Show. There are rows and rows of items for sale at the event which attracts over 20,000 people from across the world
Title 1 weapons are ordinary firearms such as rifles, pistols and shotguns.
The next machine gun shoot takes place in October.
General admission is $15 a day for adults and $5 for children under 12.
Hearing and eye protection is strongly recommended.