Submachine gun shooting competitions are one of the least known shooting disciplines in the U.S. This is a result of the restricted nature of the firearms involved.
Subgun shoots can only occur in states where NFA firearms are legal. One such state is Kentucky, and a subgun shooting competition is held at every Knob Creek machine gun shoot. This event takes place near the town of West Point, Kentucky twice a year in April and October. Guns.com filmed at the event in October 2017.
“Full auto shooting is the ultimate as far as I’m concerned,” said Mike Rouse, who was a competitor at the Knob Creek shoot. “I do USPSA pistol and some trap shooting, but this is absolutely the ultimate. There’s no better than a subgun competition.”
Unlike IDPA or IPSC events, subgun competitions utilize fully automatic submachine guns.
“I shoot a lot of IDPA based shooting as well,” said John Bosio, a competitor at the Knob Creek shoot. “But this is something totally different. It’s not nine targets set, or an an 18-round course. You got to think.”
Competitors must knock down dozens of small stationary and moving targets with fully automatic machine guns.
“I got into it 20 years ago with my husband,” said Deb Jordan, a competitor at the Knob Creek shoot. “You’re a little nervous when you go up, but as soon as the beeper goes off, you just go with it. You’re very relaxed. It’s a lot of fun.”
Competitors are judged on speed, accuracy, and how many rounds they fire.
“I shoot subgun because my dad got me into it,” said Max Schillig, a competitor at the Knob Creek shoot. “He’s been doing it a few years. I just come out here to compete against the best in the nation, and to compete against him and hopefully beat him some times.”
“I get as much enjoyment out of watching him shoot as I do out of shooting myself,” said Ed Schillig, Max’s father and a competitor at the shoot. “It’s just neat watching him develop over the last four years, and being able to handle the gun better and carry the load.”
Excellent trigger discipline is required, along with lots of ammunition.
“We’re not just out here blasting away,” said Sean Callahan, who was out with him family competing at the Knob Creek shoot. “The selector’s set in full auto but you’re trying to mostly get get single shots. So there’s actually an enormous amount of skill that goes into it.”
“Every year you get a little bit better at it,” said Max Schillig. “Because you learn things from other people, what they do. And then you just pick up your own way of how to shoot the subgun.”
Submachine guns are often modified to reduce their rate of of fire to make them more controllable.
“The original upper shoots about twelve to 1,600 rounds per minute,” said Ed Schillig, referring to his MAC-11 submachine gun. “With the Lage Manufacturing conversion, it shoots about 650 to 750 rounds per minute. It makes it a lot more controllable, makes your mags last a little bit longer, and really helps you in the competitions. I like just putting a lot of lead downrange.”
A competitor in a typical subgun competition can fire anywhere between 300 and 800 rounds. As with all shooting sports, more females are discovering how much fun it is to shoot.
“There’s a lot more females here than there were even in April when I came just to watch,” said Johannah Zabal, who was competing at the October event.
“It’s nice to see the younger ladies continue the tradition,” said Deb Jordan.
For more info on subguns and shoots near you, visit Subguns.com.