Over the last few weeks I’ve had a bit of a response to my last article on long range blackpowder shooting and along with that lots of questions re blackpowder shooting and hunting.
Back in the mists of time before most of you were just a glint in your olds man’s eye I managed to put 2 muzzleloading rifles on my open license for the purpose of “vermin control”, unfortunately WAPOL has since decided that Blackpowder Percussion Rifles are not suitable to harvest game, I have to say however that whatever I have whacked with the 577 round has fallen over instantly and ceased taking any interest in earthly matters. You can still apply for an open licence now but you have to make a very strong case that you want to shoot it recreationally not hunt with it.
Hunting with a muzzleloader is a challenge, you only get one shot and you need to ensure you haven’t started a bushfire and of course you have to make that one shot count. I have spent far more time on the range shooting blackpowder Rifle, Pistol and Shotgun and as long as you’re ok with the slow and detailed reloading process it’s a lot of fun. I’ve been very fortunate to fire everything from Matchlock to Percussion cap but for the benefits of today’s discussion let’s stick to percussion cap.
There are two main categories of percussion rifle, civilian, like Kentucky, Mortimer, Plains rifles and gear similar to that. Then there’s military which of course means Enfield’s, Springfield’s and European copies of Enfield’s. I’m a big fan of these military guns; they are designed to accurately fling a big heavy bullet a long way, they easy to maintain and load and if things ever get really desperate and your surrounded by blood crazed zombie goats you can always fix bayonets and cut your way out.
There’s also a heap of blackpowder cartridge rifles out there that with a bit of careful reloading can come back to life, I have a 577/450 Martini Henry on my open licence and with the appropriate blackpowder or trail boss load it is big medicine on goats etc.
When it comes to pistols it’s very hard to go past the cap and ball revolver, Colt Walkers, Colt Dragoons, Colt Army, Colt Navy, Rogers & Spencer, Remington Army and the king of cap n ball the Ruger New Army. With all the excellent Italian Colt clones on the market it’s possible to go fully Wild Bill with your own slice of history and if you’re doing precision work then it’s the Ruger for you. You haven’t really lived till you’ve done the 2 gun bit with cap and ball at night when the sparks and muzzle flash are truly awesome. SSAA have a blackpowder match and a lot of the clubs are starting to shoot it and you’ll find a smattering of blackpowder revolvers scattered thru the clubs now.
Muzzleloading shotgun is a real challenge as at the point of ignition your target disappears behind a great puff of smoke and unless you have a double there’s no such thing as a quick follow up shot. But there are some very real advantages to blackpowder shotguns, they are considerably lighter than modern guns, there is next to no recoil and they are one of the most naturally pointing guns you will ever pick up. Once again because of the slow reload you will learn to make every shot count and be a better shooter for it. If you have happened to catch the show “Life Below Zero” on Foxtel you will see Chip Hailstone harvest ducks and geese with his trusty Pedersoli double barrel muzzleloading shotgun just inside the Arctic circle, pretty harsh conditions but the gun still manages to get the job done.
So if you want to learn to slow down, make your shots count and have a ton of fun in the process you should give blackpowder shooting a go.