Paul Stevens lets loose with a flame thrower at the HMHS Shoot & Expo. Photo by Jeff Zimba
By Barry Sturk
If by the time July rolls around you’re already tired of the same old monotonous back yard barbecues, and household chores that you seem to never run out of, maybe a quaint little Maine town by the name of Dover-Foxcroft has just what you are in need of. For the past five years, on the third weekend of July this normally quiet little town of Dover-Foxcroft undoubtedly becomes one of the noisiest when it hosts one of this county’s most spectacular events, the Hiram Maxim Historical Society Northeast Military Firearms Shoot & Expo.
The Hiram Maxim Historical Society is a non-profit organization that got its start over twelve years ago when a small group of machine-gunners that had been “banished” from about every gun organization around, because of the type of firearms they had, decided to start a club that did not discriminate against any firearms. The core belief of the group is that the gun culture was its own worst enemy, and it was time for an organization that allowed and protected all firearm owners’ rights, not just a hunter’s rights or a bench shooter’s rights, but every firearm owner’s rights. They have made it their goal to promote the safe and responsible use of firearms and to educate people on the rich origins and history of firearms in this country. They have one of the biggest machine gun shoots in the United States, second only to the Knob Creek shoot. What better place to have a machine gun shoot then the birth state of Sir Hiram Maxim? We couldn’t think of a better place, and named our Historical Society in the memory of that great man.
The first Northeast Military Shoot & Expo was held in 1996 and had a modest shooter’s line of around 35-40 positions and perhaps 40 dealers at the gun show. The entire event was put on with a shoestring budget and very little advertisement. It seemed that the biggest thing the first year was the name. But that was then and this, well, now it’s a lot different. Since the first Maxim shoot, it has developed into a huge event that costs the organization thousands of dollars just to put on. They advertise in various magazines, on radio stations, and have a direct mailing in the thousands. By 1999,the Northeast Military Shoot & Expo had grown to the point that the shooter’s line had more than 60 positions. There were over 100 dealers and an attendance of around 6000 people through the gate. There was everything from American 180’s, flame-throwers and a Stuart tank on the line, to surplus jeep tires in the dealer tents. You could even get a copy of the Devil’s Paintbrush or the Grand Old Lady of No Man’s Land signed by the author of the books, Dolf Goldsmith.
The Hiram Maxim Historical Society’s Northeast Military Shoot and Expo has grown to be what many people call one of the biggest and best firearms shows in the country. Every July machine gunners, firearm dealers, enthusiasts, and the people that are just curious converge on Dover-Foxcroft, Maine, from all over the world for this event. After all, it’s the only place that you can go and shoot an M-16 before you even buy it! Not to mention the fact that there are numerous machine-gun rentals available like from the Manchester Firing Line and Range, New Hampshire’s biggest class III dealer, that has everything from Krinkovs and M-60’s to RPD’s for you to try out. And where else can you go to see a Stuart tank punch a 9 inch hole in a car or get a chance to shoot at some dynamite taped to a ca
The Northeast Military Firearms Shoot and Expo currently has a four to five year waiting list on their line positions but don’t let that discourage you. What differs between the Maxim shoot and the Knob Creek shoot is that there is only one firing line, and you can purchase a Shooter’s badge for $25.00 a day and shoot from a rotating line position at the same targets everyone else is shooting at. The admission for someone who just wants to watch or browse through the dealer tents is $6.00 per day, or if you wish to pre-reregister it is $15 for the weekend. As mentioned before, if you wish to try out a firearm, you can purchase a shooters badge for $25.00 per day or $40 for the weekend. Also, word has it that there may be some dealer space becoming available for the 2000 shoot at $45.00 per table. The Maxim Shoot also has limited overnight camping available for $25 for the weekend on a first come, first served basis. No explosives, drugs or rowdiness is tolerated. The Hiram Maxim people stress that all the camping rules are strictly enforced and anyone not following them will be removed and possibly face arrest for any violations. Safety is the most important aspect of this event and security is very tight. The Maxim Club says it runs the safest shoot possible and has Police security 24 hours a day with a fully manned ambulance and a Doctor on site at all times.
The Maxim Club kicks off the weekend events on Friday at 10:00 am. After the range officer goes over the safety rules and gives the command to “commence fire,” then all at once over 100 machine guns unleash an incredible torrent of flames, lead and smoke down range at the various cars and motorcycles with dynamite strapped to them. For someone that has never been to a machine gun shoot before, it is the most incredible feeling that you could ever experience. Every sensorineural part of you body is almost overwhelmed by trying to process everything at once. All the machine gun fire, percussion from the exploding dynamite, cars blowing up, the intense heat from the flames mushrooming down range, brass going everywhere, and machine gunners frantically feeding the ammo into their guns, as if an imaginary enemy was quickly approaching, is surely one of the most incredible things you could ever witness.
When the line shuts down every hour or so you can take a few minutes to grab a quick lunch at one of the various food vendors, then browse through the large gun show. There you will find everything you could possibly think of that is gun or military surplus related. They have everything from BDU’s (camo pants) to registered BMG’s (Browning machine guns) for sale. There is table after table of ammo, collectible militara, knives and even cannons and flame-throwers that can all be had for the right price
The Northeast Military Firearms Shoot & Expo is a three-day event. The firing line and gun show goes until 5pm on Friday and 9:30pm on Saturday. Saturday they have a spectacular nighttime tracer shoot that is a must see. The whole weekend event wraps up on Sunday and the hours are from 9am to 2 pm. If you are interested in more information on the event or you would like information on how to join HMHS you can contact HMHS inc. at P.O. Box 1491 Waterville, Maine 04903. Phone (207) 465-2336 or check out their web site at www.hirammaxim.com.
Barry Sturk is currently the President of the Hiram Maxim Historical Society, and understandably one of the clubs main boosters. The experiences of many of the RKI’s in the Class 3 world indicate that the HMHS Northeast Military Firearms Shoot and Expo is a good place to be, so SAR says “See you there!”
|This article first appeared in Small Arms Review V3N10 (July 2000)