What have you done to further the muzzleloading hobby?

Muzzleloading Forum

Help Support Muzzleloading Forum:

bpflint2007

36 Cl.
Joined
Jan 10, 2022
Messages
90
Reaction score
95
Location
Indiana
Hey all. I’ve been doing a lot of reading and there’s something that’s been on my mind. Many guys here seem concerned about the lack of new blood in this hobby. I got to looking, there’s three clubs in Indiana according to the NMLRA. All of them use Facebook for information about them but I don’t have or want an account on Facebook, so I can’t view the info. Right now there’s really no way for me, someone already into muzzleloading, to find a club or other local resources. This brings the question up in my mind: if I can’t find anything local, what about those outside of the hobby who have a slight curiosity?

So, the question is, what have you all done to make this hobby more accessible to new people? Have any of you started a club local to you? If so, how? I’d like to keep the hobby alive but it seems many got into it around the Bicentennial, or someone in their family passed it down. There’s a lot of good info floating around but I’m concerned that in the next 10-20 years a lot of people with hands on knowledge will no longer be with us.

Traditional muzzleloading isn’t going to be the next hot thing nor will it ever be I think. But if there’s not more done to help “pass the torch” so to speak, it’ll only get harder to get parts, kits, accessories, and complete guns as the demand continues to drop. So again, let’s hear what you all have done to keep the hobby alive and maybe we all can learn a few lessons that can be applied to bringing new people in!
 

Versanaut

40 Cal
Joined
Apr 15, 2019
Messages
112
Reaction score
165
Location
Florida
Sadly, this isn't the first time I've seen this type of post. Fortunately, we have this forum here as a place to gather these ideas and share them with like minded folks. Though, if you are here... You are already hooked! hahaha. The harder part, like you mention is forging new interest. The way I see it, there are 4 different groups to break into, All 4 needing a bit different approach.

Group 1. I can't tell ya how many people I run into at the range that come up to me while shooting powder to tell me about 'the gun in the closet'. Seems EVERYONE that shoots has a closet muzzleloader. The conversation goes on and I ask why they don't bring it out more. "ahhh... 'it's a pain', or 'to many parts', 'too complicated', too dirty. I give them the ol' knowing smile and offer up my rifle for a shot or two. Just in the hopes I might remind them on how easy they are to shoot and rekindle the spark. I inform them that we have a group 'shoot' twice a month. In the end... Their mind is probably made up if the TRULY have one in the closet

Group 2. The shooter never having shot one. You all have seen them. Lurking in the shadows. In the corner of your eye you catch a side glance. They are watching you. They want to talk, they are interested. I always try to catch them looking. A big smile, a warm inviting, Ever seen how to load one? Come over! I'll show ya. May, You helped load it! Might as well shoot it! Worried about that recoil! Nonsense! That's just the movies talking. It's a push more than a wallop! And when you shoot on your own, you can adjust EVERY shot for how much boom you want! And my usual banter about making you a better shooter through learning about follow through and holding through delays and such. Talk about the nostalgia and how they just experienced the SAME thing that Lewis and Clark, Boone, and a hundred other frontier and exploring legends did. I remind them that we have club shoots twice a month. Just show up! We usually have an extra rifle on hand.

Group 3 is your Big investment group. The Children. Tougher to find, but when you do, you put a token in for our sports future. They may not have the means today to get into it, but they will NEVER forget that experience. THEY are watching you at the range cause you have the best show in town. Any time I see a kiddo on the range, I ask the adult and kiddo if they would like to shoot the daniel boone gun. Almost every time is a yes. Load it out with 35ish grains and put a HUGE smile on their face. Then of course ask mom or dad if THEY want to shoot it. Conversations go everywhere. They can join our twice monthly shoot, OR, I also mention that our local 4-H has a very active youth muzzleloading program.

Group 4 is the non-shooting public. Tough group to contact as they are not at the range with us. I've gotten a friend or two to experience it through word of mouth and meeting up with them. But a stranger? Hmmm. That would be tough. I imagine only through some living history or re-enactment type of engagement.

Our biggest obstacles are that it IS a dirty sport and DOES require some work to clean up every time we shoot. Add to that a little more complex to shoot with all our moving parts. I like to joke with the Kingsford Charcoal reference. Some folks like to fire up the propane grill and slap on the burgers. Muzzleloading is more like Charcoal grilling. Takes longer, Tastes better. "Slow down and grill"

First steps I would suppose are to get a regular event going at your local range. If there isn't anything going on now, I am almost certain a couple of nearby folks on here would meet up with ya to get something started. Then we all have to act as our own sport ambassadors as no one else will do that for us. Our best bet is BEING available for everything to sample through. Never met a more open and inviting group than the muzzleloading community.
 
Joined
Jul 22, 2021
Messages
1,032
Reaction score
1,893
Helped coach an NRA "Youth Hunter Education Challenge" team for four years. Eight events - Muzzleloading Rifle, Hunter Safety written exam. Orienteering, Hunter Safety Trail, Shotgun, Archery, .22 rifle. Won statewide, placed three time at International (won International once).

Became a Hunter Safety Instructor. Taught various portions for many years.

Taught police Combat Pistol and Combat shotgun for 28 years and included muzzleloading familiarity to several hundred cadets during range portions of classes. A few had fired percussion, not one had ever fired a flintlock. Rural cops need to know this stuff, but it's not taught by the FBI, Highway Patrol, nor NRA in the instructor courses I graduated from. Cadets seemed to enjoy their blackpowder shooting. I did.
 
Joined
Feb 28, 2005
Messages
6,447
Reaction score
1,486
Location
Colorado
Well, for me, it starts at home. I have two daughters who both grew up with their dad shooting and letting them shoot. Neither of them are particularly interested in shooting now, BUT there are two son in laws who I have seen to it are avid hunters including with muzzle loaders. There are 7 grandchildren who i take with me every chance I get. Their interest levels vary but they all enjoy participating.

I go to shoots and get togethers and see some doing as I do but I'd like to see more. And, I know that in this day and age families are scattered and we don't all have the chance to do these things.

Not trying to suggest that I am doing anything unique but it is probably a good idea to grow the grass in your own backyard. It's hard to keep it up when it's way across town.
 
Joined
Jul 22, 2021
Messages
1,032
Reaction score
1,893
We got a choice - "Take your boy hunting instead of hunting your boy" (or girl)

There's a kid somewhere near everyone who'd like to try muzzleloading. It doesn't take an organized, sanctioned, official this or that to invite a youngster to go shoot or hunt. All it takes is to make an offer and a little time to show them what FUN they can have.

Every one of us had someone to do the same. Be that person.
 
Joined
Mar 13, 2020
Messages
3,720
Reaction score
8,061
Location
On the Border in Idaho looking at BC
biggest contribution i have made is supporting the muzzloader parts suppliers!
second would be gifting rifles to various persons that expressed a desire to get into the life.
there are 6-7 people drooling over anything black powder now that started with one of my hand me downs. don't have grandkids so everyone are fair game for the BP pusher! that is what one neighbor calls me.
 
Joined
Dec 6, 2020
Messages
83
Reaction score
174
I agree - it starts at home: I have two sons, both about 30. Some of our most memorable hunts have been with muzzle loaders. One of my sons got his first antelope with a .54 Hawken while in his teens. The other son and I had a couple of the most exciting stalks on big game we have ever had - just this season. I gave them both .54 Hawkens a couple years ago. Now we'll just have to see if it "takes" with them. I don't really care whether or not they choose to continue shooting black powder firearms - (we spent today hunting ducks with modern O/U shotguns.) But I do think their lives will be better if they continue to spend some of their days in the field, testing themselves and their equipment, rather than in front of a TV or computer screen.....
 

dave951

54 Cal.
Joined
Feb 27, 2019
Messages
1,895
Reaction score
2,973
That seems to be the common denominator so far, "show a kid."

And that is precisely why I became a certified NRA Muzzleloading Instructor. It isn't an easy cert to get but it IS a requirement to working in almost every youth shooting sports program that has muzzleloading. With the cert in hand, I've been spending part of every summer instructing at a local Scout reservation. During the "off" times, we work with small groups and try to get others to get certified. We have also started a NMLRA Charter Club that is instructor oriented. We're the "Yadkin Valley Rangers" losely based in central NC.

Getting certified isn't easy. It takes a commitment of time and money. Most folks will cheer from the sidelines, but when it comes time to "get in the game", they have other things that are higher priority to them. Having seen this too often, all I have to say these days is, if you don't get in the game, quit whining, you're part of the problem.

Next, it takes "stuff" to put on a program and that takes either money or donations. I've gotten some negative feedback here cuz I make no bones about asking for support for our work but it takes support to run a program. That's why I support Schuetzen to the hilt for their powder and cap donations and can't care less about Goex. We get donations to purchase lead for some of our ammunition which we cast and use during instruction since we teach both PRB and Minies. The kids we work with get to experience both types of shooting and they nearly always show a pronounced preference for minies. You PRB guys are cringing, but if you want new blood in the sport, you have to bend a bit to get them into the game, then show the other paths to take as they gain more experience.

I'm glad to see someone else besides me start this type of thread. You bench sitters need to get into the game in some capacity- instruct, teach, donate, publicize, make stuff, we all have talents, use them or lose this hobby.

Scout2.jpg


IMG_7158.JPG



DSC_1474.JPG


DSC_1483.JPG
 

Loyalist Dave

Cannon
Staff member
Moderator
MLF Supporter
Joined
Nov 22, 2011
Messages
13,202
Reaction score
8,294
Location
People's Republic of Maryland
I taught hunter safety, but left in protest when the "experts" removed some of the BP content in favor of a safety concern that, when compared to BP accidents, was highly unlikely. In part this was due to the reaction that I got when I demonstrated how much more likely misuse of powder or powder safety was to happen compared to their "new" concern..., I even asked if I could add back the BP portion that was excluded, and was told I couldn't add to the test. When I left, a person in Maryland could get 100% correct on the written test, and never have been taught not to use smokeless powder in black powder rifles or guns. :eek:

I currently do living history with a group based out of New Jersey, and they add new, younger members all the time.

LD
 
Joined
Dec 18, 2018
Messages
1,674
Reaction score
1,599
Location
Johnston County NC
Signed up for Hunter Safety Instruction through Fish and Game in NJ. In spite of many inquiries it seemed like they did not care. You think they would welcome the help in a State where 2a and Hunting rights are attacked every Election Cycle. IN NJ I guess not....
 

N.Y. Yankee

32 Cal.
Joined
Feb 27, 2013
Messages
507
Reaction score
499
I offer people at the range a chance to shoot my Frontier rifle once in awhile, especially young people there with their parents. It always puts a smile on everybody's face, including mine.
Yes. I'll talk with people and offer them to shoot my gun (with lighter loads). It's always been positive and I have given my number to several but they dont seem to take the time to follow up on it.
 

nit wit

50 Cal.
Staff member
Moderator
MLF Supporter
Joined
Jan 20, 2005
Messages
2,854
Reaction score
891
Location
Maine
I started GEEZER Shoots years ago. We gather once a month at different peoples houses and compete, with any muzzle loader. People have to join the Ancient Ones of Maine to be covered by our insurance. Membership is only $10.00
Nit Wit
 
Joined
Jan 6, 2021
Messages
3,294
Reaction score
1,456
As some know, I am an unlikely character to be found here. To get more like me, if you want 'em: Discuss hunting with friends and family, being unflinchingly truthful, non-judgmental and positive about the benefits and excitement of hunting. A friend of mine that is an avid hunter (Roger), discussed my reservations as to the brutality of hunting and the rationale behind why it is moral, 30 years ago. He was very gentle and respectful of my position at the time. This helped me come to terms with the killing. I have always wanted to hunt my whole life, but my pop had a bad experience on his first hunt as a child and basically didn't want anything to do with it his adult life. Ironically, since I got into it, he is my best hunting partner, which I greatly value. Also, ironically, my pop is what got me into muzzleloaders. He is a huge history buff, well informed and well read, concerning the civil war. He did civil war reenactment for years, so it was natural for me to want to shoot and hunt with his muzzleloaders. Leave it there to keep things positive.
 

ord sgt

.50 cal
Joined
Jan 9, 2008
Messages
1,494
Reaction score
1,330
Location
Socialist state of New Jersey
My local R/P club runs an NRA Women On Target course. The ladies get a chance to shoot all types of firearms. My part of the course is an introduction to muzzleloaders. Another bp shooter and I show the ladies how these front loaders work. We hang a board with clay birds attached at 30 yards. The smile on their faces when they look through the smoke cloud and see that the clay bird is broken is priceless.
We also do the same thing for the "Open House" day at the range. Any club member or visitor can shoot one of the muzzle loading rifles. A good time is had by all.
 
Joined
Mar 20, 2018
Messages
1,915
Reaction score
2,564
Location
Yuma Az
I did introduce a shooting buddy to black powder by letting him shoot my rifle and pirate pistol. He has since bought two sidelock rifles, a pirate pistol and an 1858 Remington revolver. I took several types of MZ long guns to a 4H outing and let several of the kids shoot them. Three of them out of about a dozen showed an interest, I don't know the result, but the seed was planted.
 
Top