Boone time for muzzleloaders

POWDER TO THE PEOPLE: With a flash and a bang, Bob Smith from Nowra takes a trip back in time whenever he gets the chance.

POWDER TO THE PEOPLE: With a flash and a bang, Bob Smith from Nowra takes a trip back in time whenever he gets the chance.

REMEMBER Daniel Boone and Davey Crockett?

If you do, it won’t take you long to figure out what Bob Smith from Nowra grew up watching on television.

Mr Smith is the founding member of the Nowra Rifle Club’s muzzleloader code.

He is member number eight of the NRC’s 900 members.

He is also a man with an infectious passion for black-powder rifles, their history and life when the world was simpler.

Last weekend, the club’s annual Black Powder Rendezvous offered shooters from around Australia the chance to break out the buckskins, flints and teepees for three days back in the 1800s.

The event attracted about 60 competitors. 

They tested their skills firing replica weapons from another era and many of them showed how well they could live like Daniel Boone.

While the main attraction was the shooting, the competition carried over from the range to the camp sites.

Points were awarded for period authenticity in dress and campsites.

There was even a contest to light a campfire with flint and steel.

And just as Daniel Boone always managed to come out on top, Mr Smith claimed the title of overall winner on the weekend, on the range and off.

Mr Smith gets as close to being historically correct as he can, right down to his skills.

“I can get three [bullets] away in 60 seconds, just as a British redcoat was trained to get three away in a minute.”

To the uninitiated getting three away in 60 seconds might not mean much, but consider this.

The ingredients required to load one of these guns reads like a complicated recipe: put a flint stone or cap in the gun, measure black powder, pour it down the barrel, cut a cloth patch to wrap around lead ball, poke that ball down inside the barrel, cock the mechanism, aim, fire, clean inside the barrel and start again.

“It’s a rush, and we have all made the mistake of putting the lead ball in before the black powder,” he said.

“Once you do that you are out of the competition. If you were in a battle and did that, your gun basically became a club.

“Since I was a kid I had a fascination for old guns. There is just something about them being a bit different,” he said.

Mr Smith enjoys introducing people to black-powder shooting and dispelling the misconception they are inaccurate.

“When I was younger an old gunsmith took me under his wing and showed me a lot about these guns.

“Firstly, people love the big plume of smoke when the gun goes off.

“Secondly, once you learn to load them properly and understand the art of getting the right amount of powder, ball size and even cloth thickness, they are accurate.

“It’s amazing because you’re basically firing out a lead sinker with accuracy.

“There were about five of us originally with muzzleloaders. We’d be there shooting and someone would turn up with a .22. They would ask us about our guns. We would give them a go and then a few weeks later that person would turn up with a muzzleloader.

“I love these smelly old guns. It’s a rewarding thing. Daniel Boone, yep we’re into all that. We’re into a time when everything was simpler.”

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