COON HOLLOW, KY—In a rivalry that shows no signs of abating, Iraq and Kentucky remain locked in a bitter struggle for world shooting-into-the-air supremacy.
"I'll be damned if any Muslim's gonna beat the great state of Kentucky at what she do best," said Coon Hollow resident Billy Joe Dupree, 39, in between bouts of firing his shotgun skyward Monday. "We been shootin' into the air for all kinds 'a reasons since they was a Kentucky, and that's a fact. Why, even my wall-eyed cousin Mavis could outshoot one o' them Muslims, and she ain't hardly finished the fifth grade."
Aziz Hourani, 24, of Baghdad, took exception to Dupree's claims of air-shooting superiority.
"Such is our anger at the Great Satan that we send many bullets into the air every day," said Hourani, raising his AK-47 carbine and firing several rounds. "No one can surpass us at shooting upwards—and certainly not the Americans."
Though worlds apart geographically and culturally, Iraq and Kentucky each boast rich traditions of vertical marksmanship.
"Expressing one's feelings and emotions via the firing of guns into the air is an ancient and noble artform," said Henri St. Germain, president of the Federation Internationale des Discharges-Aeriales (FIDA), the sport's governing body. "In fact, it may even predate the practice of expressing one's feelings and emotions by shooting into other humans. And nowhere on Earth does this tradition continue to thrive more than in Iraq and Kentucky. It is a vital part of these two unique cultures."
Continued St. Germain: "Whether shooting to celebrate a successful moonshine heist from neighboring kinfolk or the downfall of an imperialist Western regime, Kentucky and Iraq bring an undeniable passion and pride to their craft."
According to FIDA officials, in head-to-head competition, Iraq and Kentucky are closely matched.
"From a technical standpoint, the two competitors are virtually dead-even, with different but equally strong styles," veteran FIDA judge Olivier Resnais said. "The Iraqis' preference for automatic military weapons give them the edge in rounds-fired-into-the-air-per-minute, whereas the Kentucky double-barreled shotgun or squirrel rifle has a much greater bore, allowing for a louder, more full-bodied sound and a much greater weight of vertically propelled lead per shot."
"In terms of vocal style, they are again different yet similar, with the gun wielders of each region doing their best to drown out their weapon's report through fervent yelling of their native calls," Resnais continued. "Though they may have different meanings, the cries of 'Yeeeee-haw!' and 'Allahu akbar!' are, in spirit, not actually all that different."