By Vic Fogle
Most shooting competitions are conducted in an environment of relative background silence, perhaps to allow shooters to concentrate better, and for many kinds of competitions this relative silence is entirely appropriate. But for adding battlefield realism to machine gun competition, what better background than a major machine gun recreational shoot, providing intermittent fire ranging from fully automatic pistols up to and including .50 caliber and 20mm pieces?
Once again this year the Oregon State Machine Gun Championship, recognized by the Oregon State Shooting Association, was held concurrently with the Albany Rifle & Pistol Club Spring Full Auto Shoot. Although the sub-machine gun course was held on the multi-bay north range on Saturday and was several hundred yards distant from most of the noise, the assault rifle and crew served contestants enjoyed the full effect of the added accompaniment. The entire main firing line was periodically shut down for target resetting. In order to minimize down time and to simplify scoring, targets for all three classes of arms were of the knock down and break/no break varieties in most instances. The use of large heavy steel targets tends to encourage combat power rather than paper punching ammunition and has proven popular.
Most competitors shot the single stage sub-machine gun course first. It began with three small balloons tied in a cluster at the top of a 4’ wooden stake about eight yards in front and to the left of the shooter. The course required that the balloons had to be broken with the gun being fired from below the shooter’s shoulder – in other words, from the hip or chest level, also known as the John Wayne assault position. Then the shooter moved to his right, to a position at the left side of the barrel, and knocked down five pepper poppers flanked by two no shoot poppers.
After moving to the right of the barrel, contestants then had to reverse all four round plates on a dueling tree and knock down a closely guarded steel plate, shooting from the weak shoulder.
A required magazine change, presumably to frustrate those Thompson owners with C drums, allowed the shooter to advance to the fourth shooting position to engage three poppers, a falling plate, and an elevated hanging plate. The third popper tripped two turn and drop cardboard partial targets that began edge on to the shooter and were exposed face on for only two or three seconds before coming to rest once again edge on. Two elevated balloons on strings completed this positions challenge.
The final position was less traumatic. The first of two poppers, one behind the other, triggered a tire mounted clay bird thrower that launched a clay pigeon in a rising diagonal from right to left back across the range. The target amounted to a bonus, since most people didn’t hit it. After the knockdown of the first popper, the second became visible, again closely flanked by large no shoot plates. After getting this down, the shooter had only to hit two small hanging plates.
As a whole, the course demanded straight shooting and control down narrow lanes of fire, all the while incorporating diverse elements for shooters and allowing the target crew fast reset times. The no shoots were thoughtfully located to forestall either horizontal or vertical sweeps.
Ian Dunleavy flew through the tricky course best in an outstanding 69.55 seconds with a M16 9mm. Second was Roger Meyer with an MP5 in 74.53 seconds. Scott Carlile was third in 80.11 seconds with an M16 9mm.
Meanwhile, back up on the noisy main range, the assault riflemen were jockeying for position.They fired from any position they wished over two horizontal hay bales, one atop the other.Targets were steel knockdown plates at 50, 100 and 150 yards. For these shoots plates are welded to steel right angled bases, and the target part measures 12” x 12” high at 100 yards, 12” x 18” high at 150 yards and 12” x 24” high at 200 yards. At the assault rifle maximum range of 150 yards, some of the targets stubbornly resisted knockdown by .223 bullets. Following the 150-yard stage, the rifleman had to stand and puncture an elevated filled gallon water jug at about 25 yards to stop the clock.
Randy Jewell won the minor caliber assault rifle match with an impressive 33.04 seconds with a M16. Runner up was Hal Gould in 59.81 seconds, gun unspecified, with Jim Ebert, also shooting a M16, placing third in 140 seconds.
Major caliber honors went to Wayne Woodcock’s 71.59 seconds with an H&K G3. The same model garnered second for Ron Fortier in 80.15 seconds, Larry De Mello, shooting an M14, closely trailed him in 80.97 seconds.
In the unlimited class – that is, any assault rifle and any sights – Bill Koald had the fastest time, 43.81 seconds, with an unspecified gun. Ed Omland followed in 59.34 seconds with an M14. An identical model gave Fred Simmons a time of 108.46 for third.
The crew served match used the same falling plates out to 200 yards. Ron Fortier, shooting a Browning 1919 A4, won impressively in 39.56 seconds. Steve Wozny was second with an A6 in 75.41 seconds, just ahead of Bachynski’s 79.47 seconds with another A4. Each bank of plates had a red no shoot in it to require fine traverse control. It’s always both pleasant and novel to see crew served guns fired as they were intended to be fired – using the sights combined with fine adjustments of traverse and elevation -rather than the Hollywood method that most civilian gunners adopt.
Those shooters who came back on Sunday for Albany’s monthly subgun match were treated to a modified course with some even more challenging elements than Saturday’s, making Albany’s Spring Shoot a particularly inviting place for buzz gunners. Even looking at the equipment is worth the trip, and all this is in addition to the club’s large two-day open shoot.
Non residents render valuable support to the Albany full-auto program, and this seems a good time to thank them. The club is grateful both to the many Washingtonians who drive down to rent guns and to the growing number of Idaho residents who bring their own guns hundreds of miles to shoot with us. You’re all appreciated!!
Also much appreciated is the fine statistical work done by Wayne and Joan Woodcock, who provided the match results for this report.
Although the monthly sub-gun matches go on all year long, Albany’s next major machine gun shoot will be in December. Further information may be obtained from Mark Cook at 541-745-5619.
|This article first appeared in Small Arms Review V5N3 (December 2001)|