You're right. The NMLRA, by the way, is always supporting the idea of maintaining the "culture" of black powder shooting. People who can spare $50/yr. for their magazine & membership are helping to support this organization in Friendship, Indiana. They're kind of like the NRA for muzzleloaders. But with around 13,000 members, not "five million", although I wonder if that's the real figure anymore. Check out their magazine, Muzzle Blasts, on the newsstand where available.Without the resurgence of some form of the many "shoots" we once enjoyed, I fear the train has left the station. In my beginning days, factory-made repos were the exception. Many used the family's old "hog rifles" (handed-down heirlooms) at more-or-less formal contests held at county fairs, parish picnics, and fund-raising events where everyone was welcome. Those old originals were used by folks who many times saw them used by their parents and grandparents. Some were very good shots - men and women.
There were local legends, too. Shooters who nearly always "brought home the bacon". It was FUN, good natured ribbing, sometimes disagreements, etc. Load off your tailgate and shoot off a sturdy picnic table. Then came more and more factory guns, strangers, and new-fangled gadgets. Bib overalls morphed into cargo shorts and Jesus sandals. What once was a pleasant thing to do while the women watched the quilt auction got "serious" - old guys and old guns still won sometimes, but it wasn't the same.
Nearly all the "old guys" from those days are long gone. Ever so often their old guns show up at estate sales, but also on the internet - both at prices few of those old-timers could have imagined. If a "wave" of low-cost high quality muzzleloaders is coming (who's to say it isn't), it will be a surprise to me....happy times, good friends....