By Dan and Ed Varner
This spring we got to inaugurate the addition to the KCR subgun range. Unfortunately, it was out of necessity. On the evening of February 28, it began to rain in the Ohio river valley. In the next 24 hours, we got 17 to 20 inches of rain, depending on who’s rain gauge you believe. This caused severe flooding- the towns of West Point and Shepardsville on either side of KCR had up to 14 feet of water in the downtown areas. One week later, the Ohio River crested 15.5 feet above flood stage.
The devastation to the areas was the worst since the floods of 1937 that inspired the Corps of Engineers to build the floodwalls along the Ohio River. Even with the floodgates on the Dixie Highway and on Highway 44 leading to KCR closed, the water found it’s way in. The highway leading to the range was under 15 feet of water. Fortunately, the main range and Kenny Summner’s house are above the flood plane, but the lower ranges did not fare as well.
The subgun range had 11 feet of water over it. The shoot house we had built over the past two years, which survived 4 feet of water from the previous flood, was washed away. Most of the wreckage ended up jammed in the viaduct that separates the subgun range from the rental range. This serendipitously slowed the velocity of the water across the ranges and over the bridge that leads into the range. After the water receded, all we had left was a pile of debris and a waterlogged range with a coat of fine, slippery silt.
The range was in no shape to put on the two stage, all steel match originally planned for spring. Furthermore, we had planned to use the new area for the upcoming Machine Gun News 10th Anniversary Shoot and Subgun Match. After talking with Bill Mees and Dick Lengler at the NFA, we decided to build a jungle trail match. I sent Bill and Dick photos and a strip map of the area and an inventory of available steel targets. They had a plan by the time they got up here two weeks later, but to make it work well we needed more targets. More help came from out of the blue while we were going over the problem at the KCR breakfast buffet Friday morning with some of our range staff. Sitting at the next table was Larry Beazley who owns Beast Products. Larry builds high-quality steel targets. Overhearing our problem, he offered to donate six pepper poppers and five swinging silhouettes. Combined with some steel plates Ed fabricated at the last minute, we were set for steel, but Mother Nature wasn’t through with us yet.
Although the setup day on Friday was clear, “light” rain was forecasted for Saturday. Bill’s plan allowed for reconfiguring the course of fire to a stand and shoot format. Since we would be running against the weather to save time, there would be no walk-through. Instead the shooters would be given a printed equivalent walk-through. The format was explained to the shooters before each squad, questions were answered, and away they would go.
Typically “Bill”, the course looked deceptively simple. But the course of fire would really make you work to do well. The course consisted of six color-coded strings. The stings behind the one the shooter was engaging served as no- shoots. The strings alternated between light and dark colors to aid in target discrimination. The first string was eight orange plates and one swinger divided between both sides of the trail, and one pepper popper about one hundred yards out. To make the course fair to all skill levels, we required that the shooter need only engage the pepper popper before advancing. A goodly number of shooters dropped the popper from that distance. Then the shooter advanced downrange about 50 feet to the yellow stake to find the same number of targets. The positions were reversed, however, the pepper popper was a little closer, and the shots got a little tighter. A little farther downrange to the blue string, one found eight plates and a pepper popper with a definite bias to the left. More than a couple of shooters entirely overlooked the two plates on the right side of the trail just slightly downhill. Oh well, no need crying over missed steel; there were three more strings to go.
The next problem was the black string: seven plates and a popper with members of the next string mixed in. The left side of this string was a set of obviously really tight shots. That lone plate on the right should be almost a gimmy, right? Well not quite. It seems the bowling pins from the last string kept drawing errant bullets (and penalties.) After that, the red string seemed to be a walk in the park, but we were just setting the up shooters for the final aggravation: the bowling pins. Just six lone pins on stands, which took a lot of time and ammo to defeat.
About half way through the black string, many shooters were beginning to realize that they were expending ammo ahead of schedule. By the time they got to the bowling pin string, ammo supply had become critical. Life can be cruel, but not to everyone. Tom Carpenter was the open class winner, with Rick Hill placing second by less than one second. There was a brief controversy over weather Tom had shot one target out of sequence, which would have substantially altered his standing. But the problem was resolved equitably. Mike “M.G.” Sawyer claimed third place with his trusty Uzi. Fourth place went home with Jim Greene. Mike Sawyer came back for fifth place with a modified M-11. Dickie Schumaker placed sixth with Malcomb Davis hot on his heels for seventh. Mitch Maxberry and Bob Delp divided eighth and ninth places, respectively by less than a half second. Howard Block was just behind for tenth place.
Classic class might as well been called the tube gun class since 75 percent of the shooters wielded Swedish K’s or variants. Notable exceptions included Staale Johannison. Who took third place with his ex-police Thompson and Ron Davison who won fourth place a Tommy gun almost too clean to shoot. Ron knew that bad mag change was going to hurt him. Generals Kibiodeaux and Bruno with their Sten Mk II represented the command structure of the Louisiana militia. I have never seen two guys dnf by running out of ammo and have so much fun doing it. I don’t think they quite got the concept of no-shoot targets though. But they enjoyed themselves and, in the, end isn’t that what it’s all about?
The range officers and crew really put extra effort into this match. setting steel on a muddy hillside is not anybody’s idea of easy. Many thanks from the shooters were expressed during and after the match, both for an excellent course and for laboring against adverse conditions. Unfortunately once again, some of the range officers did not get to shoot a match they had worked so hard to build and run, given the weather conditions. We will be instituting a change in our system for the fall match so enjoy shooting the course.
Speaking of this gunpowder the range officers can driven enjoyment, what else is up at the creek? For fall, we will be holding another one of those sick silly steel speed matches. Left-hand prone anyone? So “Get them running shoes ready”, and we’ll see you at the Creek.
|This article first appeared in Small Arms Review V1N1 (October 1997)|