For those of you that have read this Blog from the beginning you know that since about 1970 I have been an "on again, off again" Muzzle Loader. But then again I am "on again, off again" on various other types of firearms as well. It really boils down to the time of year and season.
By way of explanation
When the weather starts to change the call of the wild goose, the cackle of the Great China Bird (Pheasant) and the whistle of the Bobwhite Quail stirs the soul I am "on again" with shotguns. Later when the air chills, the leaves turn color and the woods begin to reek of the rut I get "on again" with deer rifles forsaking for a time the scattergun.
Shortly after the regular firearms season I break out the black powder gear and begin to get ready for those cold crisp December mornings afield with my Front Stuffers.
Muzzle loading takes a certain level of constant dedication that I do not always have time for during the rest of the year. I particularly enjoy hunting with my "Smoke Poles" though. The idea that I can take to the woods and harvest food for the table with the same tools used by the Frontier Folk that settled this great Country is like stepping back in time.
Even though I generally hunt the same land with my black powder firearms as I do my "regular deer rifle" it is a vastly different experience. When I am out hunting with my .54 caliber caplock muzzle loader I often wonder if I am trekking the same paths, seeking to harvest direct descendants of the same food source that some similarly armed early settlers were a couple of hundred years ago.
For nearly 75 years
Headquartered in Friendship, Indiana I have long been aware of the National Muzzle Loading Rifle Association. Since 1933 the NMRLA has promoted the preservation of our frontier heritage that is the foundation this Nations generations since have built on.
It has always been my desire to visit their shooting range in Friendship.
For the past few years or so I have been friends with NMLRA's treasurer Ralph Walker. Through his and many great NMRLA members efforts I can now say that I have been to Friendship.
Friendship we have a problem!
I want to go back.
More on the GRPC later I promise
It is no big secret that I am one of the usual suspects in attendance at the annual Gun Rights Policy Conference (held at Fort Mitchell, Kentucky this year). Being less than an hour from the conference, which was held at the Draw Bridge Inn, the fantastic folks at Friendship sponsored a range day on the fourth of October for conference goers.
Folks let me tell you the hospitality was next to none. The NMRLA along with providing transportation to and from the event, laid out more food than we could eat. The NMRLA had their various ranges set up with a host of muzzle loading shotguns, rifles and pistols along with all the powder and ball we could shoot.
There were at least four full 12 passenger vans that the NMRLA rented for the occasion. Several others, including the wife and I provided our own transportation. We have a friend who is a Customs Agent at the Cincinnati Airport whom we rode with. Thanks again S.O.S. we don't get to see each other near enough.
Safety and Education first
The NMRLA also had on hand plenty of members to educate and promote the safe handling of Americas first firearms for those that were experiencing the smell of black powder smoke for the first time. Many of these members are professional firearms instructors I am sure. They patiently answered all questions posed and relished in the pleasure of introducing their hobby to a number of "Greenhorns".
The center piece for the day was a period cannon that was loaded to belched smoke and flame about every half hour.
I would like to personally thank Ralph and the entire NMRLA membership for opening their range to us and at their expense providing the transportation,food, firearms and ammunition for what has for many years been a desire of mine ... to visit and shoot at the Mecca of Muzzle Loading, Friendship, Indiana.