Why a fouling shot when hunting question?

Discussion in 'General Muzzleloading' started by THBailey, May 17, 2019.

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  1. May 17, 2019 #1

    THBailey

    THBailey

    THBailey

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    The conventional advice I have heard is to use a fouling shot before shooting for effect. This means firing a shot in the morning before putting in your hunting load and then needing to unload at night before cleaning. Repeat for each, or at least every other, day of the hunt. I can not believe the fur trapping participants, or other early settlers and frontiers folk for that matter, did any such thing. If nothing else they did not have powder and lead to waste.

    Rather I would guess, particularly for the fur trappers, other than maybe a conflict situation, firing a shot was very infrequent. But I would also guess they would want to carry a loaded gun, and that a given load might be in the gun days or even weeks, maybe even longer, before being fired. Assuming my speculation here is correct, they would want to give their gun a pretty complete cleaning after each shot before reloading. Accordingly their hunting shots would almost all be through a clean barrel? And would not perfecting clean barrel accuracy have been important?
     
  2. May 17, 2019 #2

    bud in pa

    bud in pa

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    I would fire a fouling shot before going out hunting, but it might wake the wife, and cause me more grief then a clean barrel.:)
     
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  3. May 17, 2019 #3

    Adui

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    FWIW when I carried my ML for hunting I never fired a fouling shot. I sighted her in for 100 yards (some say that this is long range for a ML, and I wouldn't have taken a shot beyond that anyhow open sight, but this was where we routinely set our targets when practicing and I am confident that if I did my part my rifle would be up to the task.) and made sure the first shot from a clean cold barrel was the one that was on target. Then again, my rifle doesn't seem to have a big difference between the first and second shot so...

    All that said, I should admit I have never had the opportunity to fire my ML at an animal. All hunting shots I've been able to take were bow or unmentionable...
     
  4. May 17, 2019 #4

    Ranger Boyd

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    I have never fired a "fouling shot" either, and have found any accuracy difference between the first and subsequent shots (at least in my rifle) to be negligible. I, too, use a 100 yd. zero.
     
  5. May 17, 2019 #5

    jrmflintlock

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    This came up somewhere in another thread. I do not fire a fouling shot either. I think it does not actually have anything to do with accuracy but ignition reliability in Cap lock guns. Excess Oil in the breach will foul a load, especially if the load sits for a long time and oil has a chance to wick its way into the bolster. Causing hang fires or miss fires later in the day. If a fouling shot is done first thing, you burn out any oil in the breach.

    Not so much of an issue when target shooting because the load does not sit. But the habit is there, "gotta' shoot a fouling shot!" Less of on issue with flintlocks especially direct fit plugs, but the habit carries over.

    People tend to get pretty crazy with the oil in their guns. If a little is good, more must be better!
    Just an observation.
     
    Last edited: May 17, 2019
  6. May 17, 2019 #6

    Howard Pippin

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    Neither do I shoot a fouling shot before hunting, it's a small matter to change my sights from a fouled barrel to a clean barrel When I want to go hunting, and I generally only sight in for 50 yards regardless. The fouling shot is done by me when I am shooting paper with friends, it does seem to make my group a little more consistent. Maybe it's because I just think it does and confidence makes me a better shot .Once, with my Percussion, I had the problem of a contaminated powder charge that wouldn't shoot, and a giant white tail buck got away. It was the patch lube that got me in trouble after it was loaded for about three days. I had to go clean back to my vehicle to get a nipple wrench, put some fresh powder below the nipple and get it to shoot out. It made me change my patch lube between paper shooting and hunting. Once more Murphy's law ruled the day.
     
  7. May 17, 2019 #7

    Eric Krewson

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    I leave my hunting rifle loaded for up to six months if I don't get a shot at a deer, I want the barrel clean during this period. My rifles all shot minute of deer or squirrel on the first shot so there is no reason to foul them.
     
  8. May 17, 2019 #8

    brazosland

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    Perhaps you are confusing a fouling shot with just snapping a few caps to clear the nipple and any oil before loading the first shot of the day?

    I always bust a couple of caps before loading, never a fired shot though.
     
  9. May 17, 2019 #9

    BrownBear

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    I load test and sight in my rifles with "one shot" groups, that is, each shot fired from a clean barrel. Kinda laborious, but with fixed sights, sight in and load testing is kind of a one-time affair. Doing that, I never have to worry about fouling a barrel first and cleaning my rifle if I haven't shot it on a hunt.
     
  10. May 17, 2019 #10

    Juice Jaws

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    No fouling shots for hunting or target work. I see guys and gals at shooting events firing fouling shots all the time, and they miss as much as I do. Seen no need for it.
     
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  11. May 17, 2019 #11

    SDSmlf

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    Around here a fouling shot before a hunt is asking for trouble with the relatively high humidity that turns fouling to goo. We as hunters/shooters go through gyrations with patch, lube, lead, barrel crown, rate of twist, cleaning methods, touch hole size, etc to maximize accuracy and reliability .... why would we foul the barrel for the only shot that’s likely to count? Fix your first shot accuracy problem and clean any oil residue that could foul a charge out of the barrel before loading.
     
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  12. May 17, 2019 #12

    Logcutter

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    No need for a fouling shot with the right ball and patch. I just run a cleaning patch down the bore before I load in case there is a little oil. There never is. The patch always come out dry and clean but I still do it. Kinda like loading sproal up. No need, but I still do it.
     
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  13. May 17, 2019 #13

    45man

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    I never did either, But I fire off caps to clear any oils. The ML does not need fouled to shoot good. But left sitting loaded can be a problem with temp changes and sweating. I wonder if when the cap is off and a rubber cover on the nipple is used if it would help. I like the idea for the flinter with a feather quill in the hole to keep dry.
     
  14. May 17, 2019 #14

    Eterry

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    I notice there's two schools of thought regarding fouling shots and TARGET MATCH SHOOTING.

    There are those that feel they get better accuracy from a fouled bore, that's why they do a fouling shot.
    The other school thinks the best accuracy comes from a pristine bore, and clean between every shot.

    As for hunting... most are concerned with hangfire/misfire and do a fouling shot to prevent that. Usually the difference between a fouled and clean bore won't cause a miss on most animal sized targets... but may cause you to lose a match.

    I've seen guys do the fouling shot, load up, then wipe the bore with solvent and oils before capping. This they say prevents MOST corrosion but not between the breech plug and the bullet.

    I've learned if i store my cleaned MLs bore down, then pop a few caps and wipe them with dry patches i don't have much trouble with ignition.

    Free information and worth every penny.
     
  15. May 17, 2019 #15

    Kansas Kid

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    When loading for hunting I clean with alcohol before loading.
     
  16. May 17, 2019 #16

    THBailey

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    Well thanks so much for all the input. My question arose from discussions with others who advocate the fouling theory. Truth be known we hunt with clean barrels also. We sight in cleaning the bore between shots. The nipple is cleared when we clean the gun. It goes into the pot of water as we bring it up to a rolling boil. Afterwords we blow it out and hold it up to the light and visually confirm it is clear. But we don't use oil, just a very light touch of TC Bore Butter. So far, knock on wood, that first shot has gone off dependably.

    How do you folks prepare for a dependable first shot?
     
  17. May 17, 2019 #17

    THBailey

    THBailey

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    "I've learned if i store my cleaned MLs bore down, then pop a few caps and wipe them with dry patches i don't have much trouble with ignition."

    "When loading for hunting I clean with alcohol before loading."

    Excellent ideas!
     
  18. May 17, 2019 #18

    Tanglefoot

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    Here's my 2 cents worth, and admittedly it may be over-priced. I clean thoroughly before putting the piece away, with a light coat of oil on the bore and exposed steel surfaces. I scrub the oil from the bore with dry patches and from the nipple or touchhole also before loading, then fire a squib load of 5 to 10 grains to be sure the bore and flame channel are clear. After the squib I blow down the barrel to watch for a plume of smoke from the breech, which shows me if that channel is clear or not.
    That's my routine regardless of whether the piece is flint or percussion. Then a damp patch (damp, not wet!) down to the breech to ensure any random cinders are out. Then I load. I do not fire a fouling charge aside from the squib, no matter if it's for a hunt or a shooting match. That works for me ... so far, anyway.
     
  19. May 17, 2019 #19

    azmntman

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    After several fail to fire at large game I fire a 1/2 load every morning the load and hunt, discharge and clean each night. Never an issue since. Tags are too hard to come by, let alone the huge Bull Elk that was the last one to get away, not too much trouble for piece of mind
     
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  20. May 17, 2019 #20

    sawyer04

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    Same here, just keep it dry and do not bring in if the weather is cold as not to condense moisture.
     

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