August 5-6, 2011 marked the truly special occasion of the 20th annual All Thompson Show and Shoot, in association with The American Thompson Association (TATA), as hosted by the Tracie Hill family in Granville, Ohio. The 20th anniversary mark is an achievement that few events reach and is a testament to the passion of collecting, studying, researching and shooting the venerable and historic Thompson submachine gun (just for the sheer enjoyment of it) by the forever dedicated and faithful. Over 100 members and friends of TATA registered for the event traveling from such diverse compass points as Wisconsin, Illinois, Virginia, Michigan, Ohio, Tennessee, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Utah and Kentucky to attend the event to display, talk and shoot Thompsons.
On Friday the 5th, the show began at the Thompson Collectors Conference Center, hosted by world renowned collector and author Tracie Hill and his family, with over 50 tables of Thompsons and related equipment on display. With the doors opening at 10 a.m., Friday is devoted to a show and tell display of the registrant’s guns and accessories respectfully exhibited on display tables throughout the conference center. All makes and models of Thompsons were present as were a wide assortment of accessories, spare parts, stick and drum magazines, web gear, manuals and historical documents – many of which were for sale. The array of Thompsons and the devotion to the subject is exceptional from the earliest prototype models through the Colt production models, through the World War II production models through to the Numrich and West Hurley models.
At 1 p.m., approximately 60 attendees filed into the library to attend a presentation by Lt. Michael Kline of the Berrien County (Michigan) Sheriff’s Department on the two Thompson guns used in the St. Valentine’s Day massacre and how they were discovered and then forensically linked to the mass killings. Lt. Kline travels all over with these two historic Thompsons relating not the gory embellishment of the actual crime, but the then advanced and new technology of forensic science as applied to law enforcement to help solve crimes. While no one was ever arrested and convicted of perpetrating the St. Valentine’s Day massacre, there is no doubt that these two Thompsons were the guns used that infamous day and have been proven so by scientific forensic methodology.
Saturday the 6th was devoted to shooting Thompsons at a beautiful nearby range in Newark. The weather was hot and humid with temperatures and humidity both in the 90s; it was a beautiful summer day with no rain. There were two structured shooting competition events and then free range shooting time after that. Thompsons used in the competitions must be in original factory configuration.
The morning event had over 40 shooters registered and began at 7:30 a.m. Five shooters at a time would shoot with each shooter having a range officer supervising his or her actions.
- Stage 1. From a distance of 50 yards, shooters will load one magazine with 20 rounds and have a time limit of 25 seconds to fire 20 rounds on one target using semiautomatic fire only.
- Stage 2. From a distance of 25 yards, shooters will load one magazine with 20 rounds and have a time limit of 25 seconds to fire 20 rounds on three targets using automatic burst fire.
- Stage 3. From a distance of 25 yards, shooters will load one magazine with 20 rounds and have a time limit of 20 seconds to fire 20 rounds on three targets using automatic burst fire.
- Stage 4. From a distance of 10 yards (30 feet), shooters will load one magazine with 20 rounds and have a time limit of 15 seconds to fire 20 rounds on three targets using automatic burst fire.
- Stage 5. From a distance of 7 yards (21 feet), shooters will load one magazine with 20 rounds and have a time limit of 4 seconds to fire 20 rounds on three targets using automatic burst fire.
Total rounds fired is 100 rounds. Less time is allotted to the shooter the closer they got to the target requiring speed as well as accuracy. Each target had to be engaged separately and sweeping the three targets in one long burst was not allowed.
Targets used were the standard OPOTA combat silhouette type. Hits inside and cutting the outer silhouette line counted as hits. The shooter with the most hits was the winner. Hits in the INZ (Instant Neutralization Zone – a T shaped area covering the brain and spinal column down to the middle of the chest) were recorded for use in the event of a tie.
Immediately following the first competition, the second competition took place consisting of metal “pepper-popper” knock-down targets. Over 30 shooters registered for this event. Two shooters would compete against each other in a two-out-of three engagement. A shooter had to knock down his six metal targets before the other shooter knocked down his six targets. The last, center targets, were set at a slight angle so that one would fall over the other in a closely contested event. After all the initial pairing of shooters took place, the winner of each heat then competed against the winner of another heat. New this year was a mandatory mag change during the final heats. This elimination process continued until there were only two shooters left to determine first and second place.
Free range shooting time was available on the main range during the metal target events located on a side range.
All shooting ended at 3 p.m. and everyone went back to their hotel to shower and freshen up for the buffet banquet dinner that was held back at the Thompson Collectors Conference Center at 5:30.
A delicious buffet dinner of tenderloin, chicken breasts and all the sides and trimmings were served along with a dessert selection that would please any palate. At each dinner place setting was a bronze and enameled medallion commemorating the special occasion and honoring the 20th anniversary of the All Thompson Show and Shoot. Every attendee received one as a gift. At the end of dinner, the winners of the day’s contests were announced. The morning shoot winners were: Paper target competition 1st place winner – James Gilronan with a 94 with 2nd place to Eric Wank with a 90. In the very closely contested and exciting steel knock-down competition, the 1st place winner was Tom Davis with 2nd place going to C.J. Roberts.
The camaraderie and gathering of like-minded people in a casual setting such as this two-day event is a testament to the diversity of interests that people are more than willing to share. This two-day event is actually a perfect microcosm of a perfect blending of subject, time and functions. The first day of show and tell is all about meeting up with friends and making new friends and sharing your interest and passion for the Thompson. Day two is the perfect culmination of actually shooting the Thompson in a competitive or non-competitive way to your heart’s content. How does it get any better?
The 21st annual All Thompson Show & Shoot will be held in August, 2012. Check the The American Thompson Association website for the dates and details.
The American Thompson Association
P.O. Box 8710
Newark, OH 43508-8710
|This article first appeared in Small Arms Review V15N4 (January 2012)|