By Jeff W. Zimba
Since 1996, on the third weekend of every July the hills of Dover-Foxcroft erupt with the sweet music of machine gun fire- this time at the Year 2000 HMHS Shoot & Expo. For three solid days, from July21st to July 23rd, firearms enthusiasts converged on this otherwise quiet Maine town to share their passion for military firearms with others of like mind.
The population in the area triples in size for at least three days, and beds are reserved at area hotels for many months in advance. The local stores and restaurants experience brisk sales during this time, and all that I have spoken to enjoy the company of the visitors very much.
My mission at this shoot was to man “The Tower”. The Tower is a section of Baker staging erected in the center of the line allowing its occupants to view the event with a 7-foot height advantage over the shooters. Whoever is running the Tower is in radio contact with the line staff, and can keep an extra eye on everything happening the entire length of the firing line. Before every volley, there is a staff meeting at the Tower to address concerns and answer questions, and it is followed with a shooters safety meeting. The shooters safety meeting takes about five minutes and we go over the range rules each time. Any shooter who does not attend the meeting is not allowed to fire during that volley. While it takes time and sometimes seems monotonous, when the event is over we receive nothing but praise for running a good, safe shoot. Safety is absolutely the number one priority, and having fun follows second. As a matter of fact, the number one complaint I heard throughout the weekend last year was that the firing line was open too much. That is a problem I was pleased to hear.
The firing line was packed as usual with machine guns representing all eras of military arms development. Almost any firearm from the Gattling Gun, to the Maxim Gun (The first REAL machine gun), to the latest in modern military weaponry could be found there. Being almost in the back yard of where the very first machine gun was developed and test fired by Sir Hiram Maxim himself makes this event close to being a religious experience to the true Emma-Gee. Many of those who attend every year even refer to the trip as their annual pilgrimage.
Under the watchful (and helpful I might add) eye of the State Fire Marshal’s office, around 150 sticks of dynamite were placed on the targets for the shooters to train their fire on throughout the weekend. The charges were large enough to set off several car alarms each time the line opened up. The approving smiles and occasional applause of the spectators made it quite obvious everyone enjoyed the explosions. Cars and trucks that have found their way to area junkyards are the usual targets and are placed from 100 to 150 yards from the shooters.
Shotgun News was the sponsor of a special event last year that went over very well with the shooters as well as the spectators. During a special volley, a van with a dynamite charge was placed down-range. Inside the van was a hidden detonation button. Any caliber bullet that could penetrate the side of the van was able to set off the dynamite charge so the sub-gunners could compete as well as those firing belt-fed machineguns. Every shooter interested in competing paid an entry fee, and was allowed 20 rounds of ammo. The names were placed in a hat, and the participants were sent to the firing line in the order that their names were drawn. The shooter who hit the hidden detonation button and blew up the van would win $500.00 courtesy of Shotgun News. The winning shooter was Bob Ward and I believe he was the 6th shooter to the firing line. $500.00 is a pretty cool bonus for the pleasure of being able to shoot at a van loaded with a dynamite charge.
Those who attend the event have the opportunity so shoot many different machine guns. Machine gun rental with hands-on instruction is readily available and the rental lines never seem to end. This is another very popular reason so many people flock to this event. It is a good opportunity to either shoot a machine gun for the first time, or to just try one out that may not be commonly found at the local range. For those who don’t live in the Free States (or Countries for that matter) where they can own machine guns, this is an opportunity of a lifetime.
The gun show portion of the exposition was larger than in years past, with more dealers, and more inventory available for sale. Items included machine guns, suppressors, ammo, parts, cutlery, clothing, and almost any related item you would expect or even hope to find. It is common to hear that many of those attending the event are as drawn to the show portion as they are to the shooting portion. It is a great opportunity to meet some of the larger dealers you often read about as well as being able to paw through an inventory of parts that may not be so common at your local gun shop.
The event is scheduled again this year and is being billed as the “Hiram Maxim Millennium, 2001 Machine Gun Shoot”. The dates are July 20-22, 2001 and will be held on the regular site in Dover-Foxcroft, Maine. (I-95 to the Newport exit #39, and take Rt. 7 North to Dexter / Dover-Foxcroft. Follow signs to the shoot). Admission is $6.00 per day and a Shooting Pass to allow you on the firing line when shooting is $30.00 per day or $45.00 for the weekend. Dealer tables are $50.00 each and must be purchased in advance of the show.
If you have some time off this particular weekend, come to the Free State of Maine, shoot a machine gun into a car or at some dynamite, and introduce yourself to some of the best friends you have yet to meet.
For more information contact:
The Hiram Maxim
P.O. Box 1491
Waterville, Maine 04903
|This article first appeared in Small Arms Review V4N11 (August 2001)|