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Shooting SportsBlackpowder    April 23, 2014

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Black Powder

Snohomish Valley Muzzleloaders Club

Snohomish Valley Muzzleloaders meet the first Saturday of each month from 10 AM to 4 PM. The cost for each shooter is $5.00 per day. The Muzzleloaders, although not formally part of the MRC, operate under the auspice of the MRC Blackpowder Discipline.

Who are the Muzzleloaders and why do they Muzzle load? Muzzleloaders are a breed apart. They tend to be highly individualistic, harking back to the mountain men of an earlier era. The concept of independent self-sufficiency is central to their discipline. Various members enjoy metalworking, woodworking, leatherwork, or the art of stone knapping (from gun flints to obsidian knives). Most appreciate and work with one or more primitive technologies and many display their crafts at the annual black powder Rendezvous.

So what about the black powder itself? First pour a measured amount down a .32 to a .58 caliber barrel, then grab for a patch and ball. At this point you may wish to pause and chew the patch for a while as some of the best shooters do, to moisten it the old-fashioned way. (But don’t savor it too long.) Next, seat the ball on that patch at the muzzle opening and drive it down the barrel using the ramrod until it seats firmly on the powder charge. (Be sure to withdraw the ramrod when finished.) After placing a percussion cap on the ‘nipple’ as a primer (unless you’re a flintlock shooter and don’t hold much with modern rifles), cock the hammer, aim, and FIRE! This unleashes a terrific explosion accompanied by a hue cloud of blue-grey smoke with a distinctive smell all its own. Now that’s BLACK POWDER!

A Muzzleloader Match begins with black powder shotguns. Shooters then progress to rifle and pistol action. Targets include everything from critter silhouettes to paper bulls, to soup can lids hanging in the wind. Common calibers include .36, .40, .45, .50, with less common .32, .54, and .58.

What is the appeal of the black powder? Of course, there’s the powder itself—the ‘boom, the smoke, and ‘ahh, that smell!’ Also, considering that supplies for a match average less than $5, it’s cheap. And then there’s the allure of living in a simpler time—at least for a little while—before they have to climb into their cars and head back to reality.

NOTE: Black powder matches will be held on the Rifle Range starting November 1, 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. until weather permits a return to Bay 9.

 
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