Shoot Smarter, Not Harder

In June 2004 I was introduced to the sport of submachine gun competitions by a friend. I was instantly hooked  and  I fell in love with the sport that very first day. Since then I have traveled the country attending and shooting in sub-machine gun competitions ranging from small local matches in Florida to multiple day events such as the Indiana State Subgun Championship  and the Knob Creek subgun nationals. During these events I have noticed, that like many other sports,  there are a handful of competitors who usually dominate the top ranks  and that  many of those competitors apply similar techniques to help them succeed.

In this article I will discuss a few techniques and fundamental principals that help many of the top competitors shoot smoother and  smarter to give them their competitive advantage. These techniques are not hard to learn and anyone can successfully apply these principals  with practice and discipline.

Shooting Posture

Squared shooting stance
Two examples of a squared shooting stance. The left is more erect posture and the right is more aggressive and bent at the knees.

A sub-machine gun competitor’s shooting posture seems to be the most important factor in the amount of muzzle rise felt  after each shot breaks. With very few exceptions, the majority of sub-machine guns seem to handle best when  shot with the shooter “squared to the target” so the chest of the shooter is facing directly at the target. The feet are a shoulders width apart and the dominant foot is moved  back  slightly. The shooters feet and chest should face  toward the target. For pistol shooters, this posture  is very similar to a isosceles shooting stance in regards to body position toward the target. The elbows are tucked in by rotating them down so they are  not sticking out  to the side in what is sometimes referred to as  “chicken winging”.

Chicken Winging vs Elbows down
“Chicken Wing” on the left and Elbows down on the right

One of the largest benefits  of this stance is that when a shooter is squared  up and firing, the recoil travels into the  arms evenly distributing it across the upper body. The entire body is then able to act as a  giant shock absorber dampening the recoil  experienced with each shot as the force is more evenly distributed.  Muzzle rise can be greatly reduced when shooting with this posture which allows the shooter to get the sights  back on subsequent targets faster.

When a shooter stands bladed (support or “weak” shoulder closest to target) while shooting a subgun, recoil often pushes more on the side where the firearm stock is causing rotation of the upper torso. This causes the muzzle to rise up and move over to the right or left  and as a result the competitor has to move the gun more to get the sights on to the next target. The competitor then ends up fighting the gun after each shot which in turn causes wasted movement and energy. Over longer courses of fire this extra movement can lead to fatigue as well as time lost. This time lost may not seem like much for engaging one or two targets but it can quickly add when dealing with larger courses of fire or multiple stages.  Half a second extra on fifty targets just put you twenty-five seconds in the hole and out of contention.

<img class="size-medium wp-image-520 " title="Bladed shooting stance" alt="Bladed shooting stance`" src="http://bullethose.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/09/shoot_smarter_bladed_stance-300×231.jpg" width="300" height="231" srcset="http://bullethose.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/09/shoot_smarter_bladed_stance-300×231.jpg 300w, http://bullethose free project planner.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/09/shoot_smarter_bladed_stance.jpg 800w” sizes=”(max-width: 300px) 100vw, 300px” />
Left: Bladed stance – Right: Bladed stance moving toward camera. Imagine trying to move away from camera with this stance.

Another advantage of this shooting posture is the ability of  the shooter to move easily in any direction. This stance also allows for a broader field of view on each side of the target as opposed to a bladed stance where the  shooter can not see what is beyond their support shoulder which could be their direction of travel.

The few exceptions to shooting squared up are those firearms  with long stocks or other design features that  make handling them when in a squared position hard to do. Some competitors feel the Swedish K, Thompson, and Beretta 38 fall into this category due to their longer stocks. This is of course dependent on the shooter and how the gun fits them.

Cheek Weld

A proper cheek weld
A proper cheek weld

Another important part of a proper shooting posture is a good solid “cheek weld”.  A cheek weld is where the shooters cheek rests on the stock of the firearm when shooting.  A good cheek weld  is when the stock and cheek come together at the same place each and every time giving you a clear view of the sights.  A good cheek weld  should feel natural and unforced.

When at the range ask a friend to watch your cheek weld when you are firing a three to five round burst. Your cheek should not come off the stock while shooting. A common problem is that competitors  will mount an optic or modify their firearm in a way which causes them to put their cheek and head  in an unnatural position to be able to view their sights.  This is fine for plinking in the back yard with friends but due to the unnatural position the head has to be in to get a sight picture, it is very hard to consistently sustain this posture in competition, especially on longer courses of fire or when having to shoot bursts.

Cadence

tick… tock… tick… tock… Merriam Webster dictionary defines cadence as “the beat, time, or measure of rhythmical motion or activity” . When shooting multiple targets lined up together it helps to find your rhythm through the targets and to keep with it. For example if you had a plate rack with 6 plates on it once you start shooting them your cadence should be unbroken. If you hit the first target and miss the second, don’t re-shoot the one you missed, keep the rhythm and continue on to the third target and others until you get to the end… only pick up your missed shots after you finished the rest in that array.

Don’t Wait

Going hand in hand with your cadence is the notion that you don’t wait for your target to fall before shooting the next one.   You  should not care if the target  falls when shooting it unless the course of fire specifies otherwise.   If it did fall, great, if it didn’t you’ll pick it up when you finish the rest of the targets in order as stated in the cadence section. Your focus should be on your sights and the target, the trigger pull and then on to the NEXT target the second the bullet leaves the barrel. Once the shot breaks, get on to the next target as smoothly as possible. It’s just a mental thing so if you fix your mind and your bullets will follow.

It’s a Submachine Gun, Shoot It Like One!

Repeat after me, “It is OK to shoot more than one round on a target”. Your gun is capable of putting multiple  rounds down range at a time with ONE trigger pull. Many competitors have gotten used to the old notion that being a good subgun shooter meant they could fire single shots from their gun while it was in full auto mode. Courses of fire seemed to cater to this notion and in the end the winner of the “submachine gun competition” was the person who could shoot their gun like a semi-auto the best. It seems kind of silly in retrospect but that’s how things progressed for a while and they have now come a full 180 degrees back in the other direction. Some event coordinators are now seeking out targets that urge the competitors to use their firearm as intended. We are now back to celebrating the uniqueness of our firearms at each competition in brilliant bursts down range.

Lets suppose you are faced with a hard set target such as a heavy set pepper popper like those seen at the recent Knob Creek competitions. LET IT RIP!!! Some shooters seem to need to be given permission to send a burst of full auto fire down range. Why? I  have no idea, but if you need it I give you permission to let loose.  Go ahead…  SHOOT THE HELL OUT OF IT.  If your posture and grip are solid and your sights are on target you can put enough rounds where you need to neutralize any target in one trigger pull.

I sometimes practice shooting a single, double, triple, quadruple and then a 5 round burst one after another. A good drill to hone this skill as well as trigger control is to have a shooting buddy yell out the number of shots you need to put on the target so it’s a surprise. “Four!” … “two!”… “three”.  This drill is a lot of fun on a steel plate or three at 10 or 15 yards. To mix it up a bit, paint a few targets different colors and have your buddy say a color and a number of rounds, “Yellow three, blue two!”. This drill is both fun and it will help sharpen your skill set.

One example I can find that demonstrates a decent cadence, not waiting for targets to fall and shooting doubles and triples when needed is from the 2007 Indiana State Subgun match. This video is of the author and to date this is one of my better performances on any single stage.  It’s not perfect but it worked out for me on this day. It ended up being the fastest time on this stage for the match.

 

 

Is That The Dalai Llama Meditating Over There?

You missed it by this much!

It’s the big day of the competition and  you’ve paid your match entry fee, you’ve practiced your skills  and put together a game plan for success . You have  a lot invested in this opportunity and you can feel the pre-run anxiety and it’s almost getting the better of you. Part of you just wants it to all be over and as you’re at the starting position and the range officer says “is the shooter ready?” you start to say YES…..

STOP RIGHT THERE!!!  Your answer should be “No, please  give me a moment” but too often the shooter says “Yes, shooter is ready”. Why?  Nerves, anxiety and stress.   This is one of those few times in life you are absolutely entitled and encouraged to be selfish.  This is YOUR run. You paid to shoot this match and within reason you are allowed as much time as you need to focus yourself and to push the nerves down and get your mind in the game. I’ve never seen or heard of a range officer  telling a competitor to “hurry up and shoot” before a run.

This moment is  your time  so find your “happy place” and do what you have to do to calm down and focus. Only tell the range officer you are ready when you are truly ready.  Once that buzzer goes beep there is no turning back so don’t sabotage yourself by rushing and ruining your  best chance for success.  I often  tell the range officer  to hold on for a moment while I close my eyes and  take a deep breath. I then  open my eyes and go over the course of fire target by target right then and there in my head.  It usually takes only a few  seconds and then I give the nod… *BEEP* Game on… You have to find what works best for you but the top competitors in all sports are able to either subdue or harness their pre-run anxiety into focus. Find what works for you and stick with it!

Focus Young Jedi

As stated earlier we all get nervous and a bit of pre-run anxiety, it’s only natural. Murphy’s law says at the least opportune time things can, and will, go wrong.  I suspect Murphy was one of the first  subgun competitors. The simple fact is that chances are you will run into something unexpected after the timer goes *BEEP*. You drop a magazine, your gun goes click when it should go bang, double feed, fail to extract, fail to eject, smoke in the eyes,  malfunctions, malfunctions, malfunctions…. The difference between the top competitors and the rest of the pack is that when something bad happens, they focus on the fastest solution to the problem and move on.

Some people talk to themselves  or the range officer when things go wrong. Some people swear and elongate curses at the gun or magazine in question. “Daaaaaaaaaaaaaaamn it” or “Whaaaaaaaaaaaaaaat theeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee hell!” seem to pop up  a lot along with one I still spit out in cases of frustration “you’ve gotta beeee KIDDING ME”. Guess what your brain isn’t doing when you are talking? It isn’t focused on the problem at hand. It is however giving the range officer and score keeper some free entertainment as the clock ticks along.  Clear the problem , safely and quickly and do it right the first time. Too often competitors watch their entire game plan go down in flames because they allowed a minor issue such as a dropped magazine or failure to eject turn into a long drawn out series of mistakes.  Sometimes the winner is the person who cleared a malfunction the fastest and got back on track and often  the losers are the people who gave up or were overcome by frustration.

 

Bullethose.com forum member HkShooter swearing in German after forgetting dummy at the Knob Creek Nationals. You might also notice the slightly bladed shooting stance.

 

To this day I still stand in awe of  competitor CJ Roberts who,  at the 2008 Indiana State Subgun Championship,  had a very odd malfunction with his full size Uzi. He tried all of the usual techniques for clearing the malfunction to no avail. So what did he do? He showed the gun clear to the range officer and disassembled  the gun right then and there looking for the problem. He  popped off the top cover,  pulled the bolt and  found and removed  a mutilated piece of brass that was causing the issue, and he then reassembled and finished his run.  CJ  didn’t win a trophy for that run but he did manage to finish in the middle of the pack and taught those in attendance a valuable lesson. Keep your eye on the prize and never give up.

Watch CJ’s run below.

Where In The Hell Am I Hitting?

Everything else means nothing if you can’t  hit what you are aiming at. Although subguns come with varying zeros from the factory many top competitors zero their firearms at 25 yards. The reason for this is that the change in point of aim and point of impact is going to be very small between 7yards  and 50 yards with a 25 yard zero. At closer distances your point of impact will be lower than your point of aim due the offset of the sights from the barrel. It is your responsibility as a competitor to know how your point of impact will change at different distances. Go to the range, confirm your zero and then shoot at the same spot on a paper target from point blank out to 40 yards in 10 yard increments.

The truth be told where you zero your gun doesn’t matter as long as you can accurately engage all the targets on any given course of fire. As of the time of this article being written the current courses of fire have targets from point blank range to 40 yards out depending on the event. Paul Winters who coordinates the Knob Creek National match has been known from time to time to stick a target out in the 30-40 yard range on occasion to mix things up.

You may want to ask yourself if  you can you hit the head of a pepper popper at thirty yards with the first shot  and then  put two rounds through  a three inch circle at two yards? If you can say yes to them both then you should have no problem hitting everything in between.

Open Bolt Guns: Open bolt guns should be zeroed standing using your natural  shooting stance. Due to the “bolt lurch” in many open bolt sub guns if you zero them while on a bench or supported the point of aim point of impact will be off when shot from a non supported  position. Bolt lurch is the shooter feeling the movement of the bolt traveling the length of the receiver when firing.

Closed bolt guns can be zeroed from a bench or supported position.

Sight in with both open and closed bolt guns should be done in semi-auto mode if available and you should remember to follow through with the trigger (hold the trigger to the rear after each shot, don’t bounce it) if possible. There are a handful of guns that do not have semi-auto mode but their rate of fire is usually slow enough that there really is no need for one.

I hope these observations lend a little insight into some of the techniques and tactics being used by the top competitors in this wonderful sport. The best advice I was ever given about shooting was to “do what works best for you”. We are all different shapes,sizes and shooters. Sometimes old dogs do better with old tricks. Find what works best for you and practice it. Sometimes we need to start all over to break bad habits and sometimes we just need to stick with what’s always worked regardless of the current trends or new innovations. Only you know you. Be honest with yourself in regards to  your performance and your ability.

There is much more discuss  on this topic but for now  this is a good starting point. I look forward to seeing you at one of the many great subgun competitions going on across the country every month. Shoot safe and smooth and share your sport ! -Todd

 

Subgun Trophy

 

Michigan State Subgun 2011

The 2011 Michigan State Subgun Championships were a success. Below are some videos from the event

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Congratulations to all the competitors for braving the challenging courses of fire.
Complete results by Stage can be viewed at here

Mens Optic Sights

Place Score Shooter Gun
1 144.21 Emery, Bruce Mac 11
2 156.50 Winters, Paul Thompson
3 157.73 Hill, Todd Max11
4 167.89 Louis, Todd Uzi
5 169.74 Stevens, Clayt Max11
6 197.28 Dorias, Jim Uzi
7 203.38 Varner, Ed MP5
8 208.40 Baillie, Joel MP5
9 222.40 York, Clif Max11
10 226.07 Manning, Bob Uzi
11 226.76 Callahan, Sean Uzi
12 242.03 Pandiscia, Brian M11
13 246.19 Bradley, Charles Uzi
14 246.64 Grocox, Cain Uzi
15 249.01 McRoberts, Joe M16
16 259.77 Selonke, Kris M16
17 268.65 Stevens, Karl Max11
18 271.46 Bennett, Glenn M16
19 288.94 Guffey, Grant Max11
20 299.57 McCarthy, Tobin Sterling
21 362.65 Winters, Neal M16

Mens Iron Sights
Place Score Shooter Gun
1 123.31 Louis, Todd Uzi
2 165.33 Grocox, Cain Uzi
3 178.72 Dorias, Jim Uzi
4 200.37 Baillie, Joel MP5
5 211.15 Varner, Ed MP40
6 220.66 Manning, Bob Uzi
7 222.13 Stevens, Karl Max11
8 225.53 Emery, Bruce Mac 11`
9 227.25 Tannery, George M3
10 245.53 Bradley, Charles Uzi
11 249.50 Tannery, George FUN RUN
12 253.86 Bennett, Glenn M3
13 256.08 Guffey, Grant Max11
14 276.48 Callahan, Sean Max10
15 303.90 Pandiscia, Brian Thompson
16 305.40 Selonke, Kris Beretta 38A
17 339.17 Sheridan, Phil MP5
18 385.14 McRoberts, Joe Beretta 38A
19 417.03 Sheridan, Phil FUN RUN
20 445.25 Reed, Rob FUN RUN
21 506.74 Reed, Rob Uzi

Ladies Optic Sight
Place Score Shooter Gun
1 306.99 Bennett, Suzanne MP5
2 372.12 Zimmerman, Nancy M16
3 376.49 Selonke, Julie M16
4 398.91 Brown, Kat M16

Ladies Iron Sight

Place Score Shooter Gun
1 283.70 Bennett, Suzanne M3
2 352.51 Brown, Kat Beretta 38A
3 413.97 Zimmerman, Nancy Beretta 38A
4 436.57 Selonke, Julie Beretta 38A

Knob Creek Spring 2011 Results + Video

Closed Bolt/Iron Sights

Place Score Shooter Gun
1 141.25 Blaschik, Andy MP5
2 151.27 Phillips, Chuck MP5
3 156.32 McReynolds, Jamie MP5
4 168.43 Parker, Jeremy M16
5 171.25 Herber, Mark MP5
6 171.29 Carpenter, Tom MP5
7 171.38 Holden, JL MP5
8 184.31 King, Chase MP5
9 196.89 Dobbins, Hugh MP5
10 230.99 Bryant, Robby MP5
11 237.59 Mohler, Mark MP5
12 238.74 Johnson, Wes MP5
13 253.09 James, Tom M16
14 255.1 Goodwin, Ed MP5
15 261.36 Carrere, Joe M16
16 270.56 Baillie, Joel MP5
17 275.43 Winters, Paul M16
18 276.21 Ezendam, Thomas M16
19 286.84 Essling, Bill M16
20 342.85 Wiersbitzky, Andreas MP5 SD
21 346.36 Steedly, George M16
22 384.64 Darnell, Bob MP5
23 389.24 Kummer, Mike Reising
24 469.98 Winthrop, Mike AR 45
25 497.9 Smith, Frank M16
26 545.5 Angle, Wade MP5
27 666.58 Geeve, Lambertino M16

DNF Dunham, Douglas Reising

DNF Winthrop, Mike Spitfire

DQ Crenshaw, Dustin MP5

Closed Bolt/Optic Sights
Place Score Shooter Gun
1 119.82 McReynolds, Jamie MP5
2 128.22 Parker, Jeremy M16
3 129.31 Blaschik, Andy MP5
4 131.16 Carpenter, Tom MP5
5 158.54 Holden, JL MP5
6 160.71 Laub, Pete M16
7 174.7 Herber, Mark MP5
8 181.62 King, Chase MP5
9 208.01 Varner, Ed MP5
10 212.95 Kennedy, Clark Sterling MK IV
11 213.49 Phillips, Chuck MP5
12 213.77 Damazo, Lane MP5
13 223.45 Wiersbitzky, Andreas MP5
14 228.69 Bryant, Robby MP5
15 232.81 Levin, Ryan MP5
16 236.99 Steedly, George M16
17 246.43 Johnson, Wes MP5
18 260.33 Mohler, Mark MP5
19 288.14 Ezendam, Thomas M16
20 288.73 Winthrop, Mike AR 45
21 297.78 Stowe, Richard A M16
22 304.9 James, Tom M16
23 312.59 Carrere, Joe M16
24 327.86 Richardson, Brad M16
25 360.46 Crenshaw, Justin M16
26 421.69 Wolfe, Russell MP5
27 453.83 Seger, Steve MP5
28 489.01 York, Clifton MP5
29 516.56 Reed, Mike MP5
30 579.27 Essling, Bill M16

DNF Baillie, Joel MP5

DQ Stowe, Richard Jr M16

Open Bolt/Iron Sights
Place Score Shooter Gun
1 138.86 Blaschik, Andy Beretta PM12
2 140.34 Lage, Richard Max-31A
3 145.97 Phillips, Chuck Sterling
4 167.49 Sneed, Randy Thompson
5 171.08 Emery, Bruce Mac 11
6 171.49 Montgomery, Dustin Thompson
7 178.8 Russel, Jeff Swedish K
8 182.26 Parker, Jeremy Sterling
9 183.07 Holden, JL Thompson
10 191.4 Mendenhall, Monty Beretta M38A
11 193.7 Montgomery, Ron UZI
12 201.13 McKown, Tony Uzi
13 201.75 Tapar, Paul Max11
14 201.76 Carrere, Joe Port Said
15 202.91 Carpenter, Tom UZI
16 209.55 James, Tom Thompson
17 210.76 Kummer, Mike MP 40
18 220.81 Grocox, Cain Uzi
19 240.5 Stevens, Clayt Max11
20 243.35 Sawyer, MG Sten Mk5
21 257.75 Varner, Ed MP 40
22 264.1 Kummer, Thomas MP40
23 264.2 Baillie, Joel Swedish K
24 266.36 Stevens, Karl Max11
25 277.45 Tice, George Swedish K
26 285.19 Asnip, Andrew Sterling
27 307.41 Bosio, John Uzi
28 325.06 Record, Russell Thompson
29 326.09 Wiersbitzky, Andreas Uzi
30 332.75 Dobbins, Hugh Thompson
31 381.67 Wampler, Andrew Uzi
32 389.11 Ottoni, Leo Swedish K
33 394.54 Crawford, Ryan Mac 11
34 408 project management free.74 Mohler, Mark Max11
35 426.08 Dunham, Douglas Sterling
36 486.1 Ezendam, Thomas Uzi
37 553.79 Norman, Dennis Mac 10

DNF Mongomery, Andy Sterling

DNF Matthews, Ronnie M11

DNF Ejzak, Larry Uzi

DNF Brunberg, David UZI

DNF Metcalf, Greg S&W 76

DNF Haynes, Ken M11

DNF Kennedy, Clarck Sterling

DQ Beck, Jeff Berretta M38

Open Bolt/Optic Sights
Place Score Shooter Gun
1 109.75 Blaschik, Andy Beretta PM12 TOP GUN
2 127.36 Parker, Jeremy Sterling
3 129.23 Phillips, Chuck Sterling MK IV
4 156.65 Montgomery, Ron UZI
5 156.92 Lage, Richard Max-31A
6 161.81 Stevens, Clayt Max11
7 162.78 Laub, Pete Smith 76
8 166.34 Carrere, Joe Port Said
9 168.12 Ottoni, Leo Swedish K
10 174.29 Tapar, Paul Max11
11 178.68 Winthrop, Mike Spitfire
12 185.1 Ezendam, Thomas Thompson
13 187.56 Norman, Dennis Mac 10
14 191.73 Mendenhall, Monty M11
15 203.6 James, Tom Thompson
16 205.49 Bosio, John Uzi
17 216.24 Dobbins, Hugh Uzi
18 240.84 Baillie, Joel Swedish K
19 245.51 Tice, George Swedish K
20 245.78 Wiersbitzky, Andreas Uzi
21 264.16 Stevens, Karl Max11
22 273.48 Bryant, Robby Smith
23 292.03 York, Clifton Max11
24 302.27 Crawford, Ryan Mac 11
25 344.53 Emery, Bruce Mac 11
26 352.62 Mohler, Mark Max11
27 398.01 Eads, Tony M11
28 419.43 Herber, Mark Uzi
29 444.97 Mccarthy, Tobin Sterling MK IV
30 557.36 Dunham, Douglas Max10

DNF Russel, Jeff Swedish K

DNF Pandesia, Brian Task M11

DNF Patty, Al Stemple 76

DQ Sawyer, MG Sterling

DQ Angel, Curtis Mac 10

Female Shooters
Place Score Shooter Gun Class
1 162.35 Sawyer, Samantha M11 Open Bolt/Optic Sights
2 219.15 Carrere, Joyce Swedish K Open Bolt/Optic Sights

247.62 Carrere, Joyce Uzi Open Bolt/Iron Sights
3 328.16 Jordan, Deb Uzi Open Bolt/Optic Sights
4 331.12 Parker, Marcey M16 Closed Bolt/Optic Sights
5 400.47 Blaschik, Caroline MP5 Closed Bolt/Iron Sights

402.36 Blaschik, Caroline Sterling MK IV Open Bolt/Iron Sights
6 458.05 Tapar, Gladys Max11 Open Bolt/Optic Sights

489.32 Blaschik, Caroline MP5 Closed Bolt/Optic Sights
7 621.58 Davies, Roxanne Sterling Open Bolt/Iron Sights

DNF Sawyer, Samantha Port Said Open Bolt/Iron Sights

DNF Blaschik, Caroline Sterling Open Bolt/Optic Sights

 

“The Knob Creek Rescue” Fall 2010

Knob Creek Fall 2010 Submachine Gun competition Huey Helicopter
Large Huey Helicopter prop built b Paul Winters for "The Knob Creek Rescue"

The Knob Creek Rescue

By Todd L.

If you ask most people what are some key elements of a good action movie they will likely tell you that it needs at least one amazing gunfight, a helicopter or two, an adrenaline filled chase and of course a daring rescue. The fall 2010 Knob Creek submachine gun nationals competition sponsored by Rainier Ballistics had all of these elements and more. The competitors who shot in this event had the chance to partake in a daring mock rescue mission to save a Knob Creek Gun Range employee who had been taken hostage. Between the large Huey helicopter prop at the final shooting position and the wide variety of targets ranging from falling steel pepper poppers to clay birds strung up on a wire it’s not hard to see why competitors and spectators alike were left saying the event was simply awesome.

A competitor shoots a Swedish K at the Fall 2010 Knob Creek Submachine gun competition
A competitor shoots a Swedish K at the Knob Creek Rescue

The event was held over two days, Oct 8th and 9th 2010, in weather that can only be described as perfect. The temperature was in the low 50’s in the morning and warmed to a high in the mid 80’s during the day. The blue filled sky with white clouds drifting overhead set the scene for what would be some fun and competitive shooting. The Knob Creek gun range is in the hills of West Point Kentucky and the subgun range is down in a small valley between several thickly wooded hills just around the corner from the famous Knob Creek firing line. On both Friday and Saturday many spectators volleyed for shaded seats under the awnings to watch the action unfold as the shadows from the wooded hills moved slowly across the ground as the sun moved West in sky.

The walk-through of the course of fire was intriguing as the safety instructions and rules were read aloud to the competitors. Paul Winters, the match director, read to an attentive group of shooters in the first squad. You will get five second bonus off your time if you shoot all the targets in the first array down in the first position with your first pull of the trigger. He discussed how each shooting position should be shot and they walked the stage together. He then discussed penalties, don’t shoot the red parts of targets… 10 seconds, don’t forget the hostage… 30 seconds, don’t forget to change magazines between shooting positions… 10 seconds. Any questions? There were a few. The excitement and nervousness for what lay before them could be seen on most competitors faces. This was going to be a something different than what most people expected to shoot and it looked like it was going to be a lot of fun.

The competitors started seated with a foot on a helicopter landing skid and after a bust of full auto fire on seven steel plates in a horizontal line they had to rush to the prison entrance and take care of some bad guys in the form of bright orange rectangular steel plates and three paper targets about 20 yards away. Next they had to locate the prisoner in his cell and after a brief battle out of the prison cell window they had to evacuate the hostage through the prison exit and to the waiting helicopter. Prison guards in the form of a several pepper poppers were on the far side of the chopper so the competitors had to lay down cover fire in short bursts from the prone position under the helicopter after the hostage was placed on board.

A view through the prison exit shooting position
A view through the prison exit shooting position

The task at hand seemed straight forward for the competitors. Engage the correct targets from the five different shooting stages , don’t shoot the no-shoot targets painted red or white paper with red X’s on them and remember to grab the hostage from the prison cell and carry it to the two final shooting positions and get it safely into the rescue chopper. The act of carrying out this task proved to be quite the challenge as more than one competitor left the hostage behind in the heat of the moment. Some simply forgot to pick the hostage dummy back up while rushing to the next shooting position, others forgot the blue suited dummy all together and didn’t realize it until they were at the final shooting position under the helicopter. Competitors had looks on their faces ranging from regret to sheer terror when they realized they left the hostage behind. It was after all a hostage rescue and they just forgot the hostage. The course walk-through clearly stated once you move from a position you may not go back so once forgotten the hostage would have to wait for another rescue attempt to be saved.

So onward competitors went racing to the chopper, most with the hostage, some empty handed, and a few muttering obscenities under their breath as they acknowledged the consequences for their haste. One competitor, Andreas, cursed loudly at himself in German as he realized he forgot the hostage for the second time in a row after leaving it behind in a run earlier that day. An audible “ooohhhh Nooo!could often be heard from the crowd of spectators knowing that the thirty second penalty for forgetting the hostage would most certainly knock the competitor out of contention from what was otherwise an amazing display of shooting skill.

Heavy set pepper popper with a no-shoot head
Heavy set pepper popper with a no-shoot head

As if carrying the hostage wasn’t enough there were the heavy set targets scattered about seemingly mocking those shooters who would not hit them high enough or with enough rounds to force them to the ground. There were two large arrays of multiple pepper popper targets painted white or yellow with a few of them having their heads painted red. The pepper poppers with red heads were set to be heavier than the others and required on average two to four shot bursts to knock them down. The red areas of the pepper poppers were no-shoots areas which meant all shots had to be placed in the white or yellow painted mid-section of the targets making accuracy in full auto mode necessary to succeed. It was a submachine gun competition after all and there was a lot of full-auto firing needed to get through the course of fire quickly. The painted no-shoot heads seemed to intimidate a few competitors who shot very low on the targets at first and then raised their aim as they realized the lower shots would not send the poppers over.

A competitor firing through the prison cell window with the hostage dummy sitting in a chair
A competitor firing through the prison cell window with the hostage dummy sitting in a chair

How the different competitors went about accomplishing the various shooting goals at each position varied as much as the guns used to shoot them. Richard Lage of Lage manufacturing shot his Max-31A prototype that uses Swedish K coffin magazines and Soumi drums. In a single burst he was able to knock the majority of the pepper poppers in an amazing display that had the spectators smiling. Mike Winthrop from Florida had a similar plan shooting his spitfire submachine gun and he had success with his seventy round magazine of 45ACP and a few short bursts.

After the smoke cleared and the scores were calculated at the end of the day magazine capacity seemed to have been less of a factor in success for many competitors as was shot placement and multiple hits on target in single bursts of full-auto fire. The top honors of the match and the Top gun award went without question to Andrew Blaschik from Pompano Beach, Florida. Shooting a suppressed Beretta PM12 Andy blazed past the next closest competitor by more than 15 seconds in a run that was fascinating to watch. In smooth intentional movements he painted the targets with bursts of the right number of rounds in exactly the best spots to defeat them. Those who stayed on Saturday to see this top gun run were not disappointed and his winning run ended in a chorus of applause and whistles from the crowd.

A pepper popper array
A pepper popper array

For anyone who has attended the various submachine gun matches across the country, it may be fair to say that few have delivered such balance between full auto bursts and accuracy in such a pleasantly displayed course of fire as the Fall 2010 Knob Creek Rescue stage. The match director Paul Winters, along with the help of Ed Varner, Malcome Davis, numerous range officers and steel re-setters, succeeded in making a safe, fun and consistent event that was both a pleasure to watch and to compete in.

Spectators at the Fall 2010 Knob Creek subgun match
Spectators at the Fall 2010 Knob Creek subgun match

The Knob Creek subgun national match takes place twice a year in the second weekend of every April and October and all full-auto shooters are invited to compete and spectate. This event features five shooting classes, open bolt optics and irons, closed bolt optics and iron sights and the ladies division. Information about the Knob Creek gun range as well as event registration forms for this event can be found at http://www.machinegunshot.com. Videos of this event can be found at http://bullethose.com under the competition Videos section of the forums.

The results of this competition can be found here

Knob Creeek Fall 2010 Range officers in front of the Huey helicopter prop
Knob Creeek Fall 2010 Range officers in front of the Huey helicopter prop with the hostage dummy and a prop MP40 subgun

Miami Vice Submachine Gun Match 2/6/2011

Miami Vice Submachine Gun Competition Logo

At 9am on Feb 6th 2011 in Palm Bay Florida a Miami Vice themed submachine gun  competition will be getting underway.  This event has stages designed based off of several Miami Vice TV show episodes. Two stages are from the final episode named “Freefall” ( part 1part 2)  , and one stage from the episodes titled “The Maze“, “Knock Knock Who’s there”  and “El Viejo“.

The great folks at Galco International are graciously sponsoring this match and one competitor will walk away with a Miami Classic shoulder holster rig similar to the one worn by Don Johnson in Miami Vice.   Only those competitors who dress the part will be eligible for the drawing for the holster.

This match will have four competitor classes. Optics, Irons , Youth and Semi-auto.  All semi-auto firearms must be in pistol caliber.

More information on the match can be found <a href="http://bullethose web link.com/forums/viewtopic.php?f=7&t=267″ target=”_blank”>here and here.

Website upgrade progress

As you’ve noticed we’ve been busy updating the website. The first draft is mostly done but it will be a continual work in progress as we customize the images and layout to fit our needs. In the meantime please excuse any odd website behavior as we refine things. If you have any photos or other media that might look great on main page please email or post to the forums about it. Especially any shots of competitors in action.

Submachine gun competition everything