Licensed collectors shoot machine guns at Fort Gordon

MACHINE GUN OWNERS FIRE AWAY

Saturday, Feb. 16, 2013 4:19 PM
Last updated Tuesday, Feb. 19, 2013 3:20 PM
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Toombs Lewis had plenty of options Saturday at Fort Gordon’s remote Range 16 – and lots of ammo.

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Frank Mihm (left) goes through a list of safety rules before people are allowed to shoot at Range 16 at Fort Gordon.  SARA CALDWELL/STAFF
SARA CALDWELL/STAFF
Frank Mihm (left) goes through a list of safety rules before people are allowed to shoot at Range 16 at Fort Gordon.

“This one is the M2-HB,” the retired Athens, Ga., banker said, stroking the receiver of his World War II-era .50- caliber machine gun.

Nearby were other classics: a rare M3 “grease gun,” a .45-caliber Thompson submachine gun and – perhaps his favorite – a World War I Vickers water-cooled machine gun, built in 1914.

“I’ve got others,” he said. “But you can’t bring along everything.”

Braving windblown rain, licensed machine gun collectors from as far away as Florida, Pennsylvania and Alabama came to Augusta for a blissfully ballistic day of noisy fun.

“We do this kind of special shoot twice a year,” said Fred Perry, Fort Gordon’s outdoor recreation manager. “And this is our 11th year.”

There aren’t many places where civilians with private collections of fully automatic machine guns can get together and safely fire all the ammunition they can afford.

During Saturday’s shoot, the closest targets were 800 meters away. Larger targets, including old Army tanks, were a mile down range.

“Shoot as far as you want,” a range master said at a safety briefing. “Just don’t exceed the horizon.”

First there was setup and fellowship. Then it was time.

“Gentlemen, the range is now hot,” a range master proclaimed, authorizing gunners to fire at will. “Send ’em!”

Among the shooters on the deafeningly noisy firing line was Oscar Bowman, an engineer who traveled from Florida to enjoy the rapid-fire performance of his tripod-mounted .50-caliber DShK, a Russian-made heavy machine gun.

“In this case, we can go out a couple thousand yards – and we get to shoot at tanks,” he said. “I can’t do that at home.”

Bowman’s fascination with automatic arms involves their mechanical intricacy. Other collectors, such as Lewis, are history buffs whose collections span a century of warfare.

Some shooters, such as Den­nis Luckey, enjoy firing the newer models, such as the Barrett sniper rifle.

“I love them all,” he said. “But the Barrett is probably my favorite, and it has a range of a mile-plus.”

Automatic weapons can legally be bought and kept, but their owners must undergo background checks, acquire federal permits and maintain proper records.

Firing big guns that can shoot 600 rounds per minute is expensive, with .50-caliber bullets averaging $5 apiece.

Organizing the event requires a lot of coordination, Perry said.

Range officers are stationed every few feet, and strict safety rules are enforced. A medic is always on standby. The post even has to get airspace clearance above the firing range.

Comments (16) Add comment
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Jack T
121
Points
Jack T 02/16/13 - 10:12 pm
1
7
Do you guys feel manlier now?
Unpublished

Do you guys feel manlier now?

harley_52
23272
Points
harley_52 02/16/13 - 11:10 pm
5
1
Jack T

Do you?

Jack T
121
Points
Jack T 02/17/13 - 12:44 am
1
6
Yes and without the need of a
Unpublished

Yes and without the need of a huge firearm to prove it. My snub nose .38 does JUST FINE ;-)

KSL
129306
Points
KSL 02/17/13 - 02:44 am
3
1
Jack T

You insult former military people. How dare you?

KSL
129306
Points
KSL 02/17/13 - 02:47 am
2
1
And you are pretty hung up on

And you are pretty hung up on the idea of guns and manliness.

jkline
527
Points
jkline 02/17/13 - 03:36 am
6
0
A lot of history there

Some real "hands-on" history. I am glad that some people can afford the ammunition---certainly I could not. It is good of Fort Gordon to support this, and reflects well on the Commanding General.

TRS320FLT021
7
Points
TRS320FLT021 02/17/13 - 07:55 am
5
0
All shooters pay a fee which

All shooters pay a fee which goes to Avtive duty family members....Several of the shooters at this event are former active duty...many shooters reload because of the costs associated with the calibers...have a nice day!

CobaltGeorge
158501
Points
CobaltGeorge 02/17/13 - 08:32 am
1
1
Yes

Some men carry socks in their underwear to feel like a man.

rebellious
20774
Points
rebellious 02/17/13 - 09:59 am
2
0
the other day

I found underwear in my socks from the laundry. Made my ankles bulge. Does that count? Women were staring a my ankles and looking all starry-eyed!

CobaltGeorge
158501
Points
CobaltGeorge 02/17/13 - 10:13 am
0
1
rep

LOL

carcraft
25803
Points
carcraft 02/17/13 - 11:55 am
1
0
I carry a gun in my sock,

I carry a gun in my sock, does that count?

Darby
25594
Points
Darby 02/17/13 - 02:04 pm
3
0
"Do you guys feel manlier now?"

Do I sense some resentment here????

Darby
25594
Points
Darby 02/17/13 - 02:05 pm
2
0
I carry a gun slightly above my sock...

and I KNOW that counts...

Darby
25594
Points
Darby 02/17/13 - 06:41 pm
2
0
Bang, bang....

I got you first.

No you didn't...

Yes, I did too......

Techfan
6461
Points
Techfan 02/18/13 - 05:48 am
0
0
"Some men carry socks in

"Some men carry socks in their underwear to feel like a man." Just remember, it goes in the front.

greenbriermom
2
Points
greenbriermom 02/18/13 - 11:22 pm
0
0
Due diligence

Your author should double-check his facts before he sends it to print. Fred Perry is NOT the Director of MWR. That position is held by Mr. James Green, a fact that could have been easily checked at http://www.fortgordon.com/staff.php. Fred Perry is the manager of the Outdoor Recreation program. The man who organized this event & the previous machine gun shoots is Frank Mihm.

Sean Moores
375
Points
Sean Moores 02/19/13 - 11:42 am
1
0
@ greenbriermom

I have emailed the reporter. I will let you know what he says. Thanks.

Sean Moores
375
Points
Sean Moores 02/19/13 - 04:23 pm
1
0
You're correct

I have changed his title. We will print a correction in the paper tomorrow.

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