The Future of Black Powder Shooting

Discussion in 'Blackpowder' started by dave951, Aug 9, 2022.

  1. dave951

    dave951 Member

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    What do you think? Just how popular is black powder shooting in the shooting sports world? With a personal view of over 40 years in the shooting sports, I say it's declining and getting worse. What is being done to change it?

    My gripe with the black powder community as a whole- many will cheerfully post nice/nice comments about somebody taking the time and effort to reach youth to reverse the decline. But those same people can't take the time out of their day to do anything about it. They'll even go as far as to criticize lobbying for support from corporations who do have a vested interest in future customers. Those same people will not take the time to work with a kid. They can't be bothered to do anything material to change the course. They'll often criticize the choice of starter gun for the newby to the hobby. They can't be bothered to take the time to introduce others in the shooting community to black powder and muzzleloading. They'll selfishly spend all their shooting effort and time on themselves with no thought to the future.

    The NMLRA (National Muzzleloading Rifle Association) started in the 1930s. It was very popular up through the 1980s but a decline set in. What was going on? Well, they realized that the tight focus on muzzleloading rifles only of the early 1800s and the "rondy" reenactors by those previously in charge was killing the organization. They realized it was "ground approaching" as the membership got down to under 5k and decided to make a change. They have opened up to all forms of black powder shooting including inlines and as a result, membership has been growing. BUT, integral to that is their work in youth shooting sports. Like it or not, kids are the future of the shooting sports as a whole and if you're not supporting it, you're not going to survive long term as those kids become good little indocrinated voters for the left.

    If you can't be bothered to get involved in reversing the decline, then quit complaining. You have what you wished for.
     
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  2. hawg

    hawg Member

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    I know that's a dig at me. I'm 65 years old and living on a disability check. I've worked hard all my life driving 18's. I never had time to do anything like that. Now I can't. You're right about one thing. I do not like inlines.
     
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  3. Armored farmer

    Armored farmer Member

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    My club holds an open house every year where we open our stockaded fort to visitors. Some of the older guys dress in their 1812 garb.
    They have activities and demonstrations for kids. Hawk throwing. Fire starting. Blacksmithing on our forge. Outdoor cooking.

    ….and no… I have not been able to attend or participate because of my work.
     
  4. dave951

    dave951 Member

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    But are you doing anything in support activities? Not everybody is cut out to be an instructor, but if you're casting bullets, helping in logistics, donating supplies for the cooking demos, you're involved and that is exactly what I'm driving at.
     
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  5. noelf2

    noelf2 Member

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    May come off as a bit selfish, but I have never been into organized black powder anything. My interests are my own, and I have exactly what I wished for. I teach my kids and grandkids, neighbors and such how to have fun and hunt with muzzleloaders if they show an interest, but I really don't care what others decide to do in the long run. Muzzleloading is about me, not everyone else. Hawg doesn't like inlines, so what?
     
  6. hawg

    hawg Member

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    There is nothing bp related anywhere near here. Even if there were there's not much I could do and I'm not complaining about anything.
     
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  7. brewer12345

    brewer12345 Member

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    My dance card is quite full, but in the next half dozen years life will get less complicated. I will have to join nmlra and start seeing what might be going on nearby. In the meantime I have lured half a dozen buddies into black powder shooting via hunting opportunities.
     
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  8. Malachi Leviticus Blue

    Malachi Leviticus Blue Member

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    Be honest, everything everyone chooses to do is for selfish reasons.
    Even when it benefits others, the reason folks give their time/money/whatever is because of the satisfaction it gives themselves to do so.
    Complaining about other folks not enjoying what you enjoy is fruitless.

    Who's complaining about there being less interest in muzzleloaders than their used to be?
    I like muzzleloaders, but if other folks don't, I don't have a problem with that.
    If I was the last man on earth who had a muzzleloader, it wouldn't reduce my enjoyment of shooting BP one bit.
     
  9. CoalCrackerAl

    CoalCrackerAl Member

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    When M/L season is approaching. There is some at the gun club shooting. That is about all i see. I don't shoot mine often either.
     
  10. Captain*kirk

    Captain*kirk Member

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    Different folks work in different ways, Dave. I helped with the Boy Scouts shooting merit badge program when my boys were of scouting age. I have my own BP forum which promotes BP shooting in every way I can think of. I'm glad you have a gift, see the need, and fill it by giving back. The sport needs people like you. But we're not all cut from the same cloth. As it is, I don't get to the BP range very often. I've introduced a number of friends and family to BP shooting. For now, that's the best I can do, and I neither feel sorry nor guilty for it.
     
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  11. hawg

    hawg Member

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    With Mississippi hunting laws being what they are nobody I know uses bp anymore. I doubt you could find an inline rifle in any gun shop anywhere in the state and traditional guns are few and far between. My LGS does carry some Pyrodex and #11 caps but I don't see stock moving much if any. Walmart doesn't even stock it during primitive weapons season anymore.
     
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  12. CoalCrackerAl

    CoalCrackerAl Member

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    Yeah we have an inline season for a week. It runs along with archery. Doe only. So i take my cross bow too for a buck. We have a late archery/flintlock season too. Deer sex does not matter for it.
     
  13. Armored farmer

    Armored farmer Member

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    Joining the nmlra is easy and cheap. Membership includes a great magazine that includes club shoot dates and associated events and news.
    It’s I great first step into the dark side.
    image.jpg
    Please join
     
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  14. .38 Special

    .38 Special Member

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    Hmm. I've been burning blackpowder for decades, and aside from membership in a few organizations - and spending big piles of money! - I've done nothing to "promote" the game. I don't feel at all guilty about that, as I feel absolutely no obligation to it. Enjoyment of a hobby - just about any hobby - carries with it no onus to encourage other people to enjoy the same hobby.

    Beyond that, I am not at all convinced that the game is in decline. I am sure some aspects of it are waning - "buckskinning", for example, doesn't seem to be nearly as popular as it was in the 70s - but other facets are clearly better than ever. The quality and variety of things like percussion revolvers and American Long Rifles is better than I've ever seen, and quite possibly better than it's ever been. Knowledge of the game also has improved by leaps and bounds, with many of the old wive's tales finally being crushed under the weight of communal and easily shared experience. Were it not for inflation and supply chain issues - and Goex, of course - I'd say we were in something like a new golden age of blackpowder.
     
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  15. AlexanderA
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    AlexanderA Member

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    Interest in all outdoor sports is declining. We live in a digital age. Young people have their noses buried in their cell phones, when they're not absorbed playing video games. Obviously there are a few exceptions.
     
  16. woodnbow
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    woodnbow Contributing Member

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    I don’t know Hawg… seems like that criticism can apply to most of us. In some respects I own it too. I’m turning 76 in a few months and I work full time. Well, 40 hours most weeks and I travel some for that work. Sad to say the only mentoring I’ve done in the blackpowder world is with my kids, grandchildren, and now great grandchildren. Well, to a lesser extent I’ve mentored my nieces and nephews as well. Some of the kids hunt in bp seasons, many do not. Our family reunions involve blackpowder more often than not so all of these people are familiar with the stuff but only one of the whole bunch is what I would call a recreational bp shooter. She doesn’t like inlines either.
     
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  17. hawg

    hawg Member

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    For the first primitive weapons season MS lets you use any breech loader with smokeless powder and scopes that's .35 caliber and larger as long as it's an original design made before 1899 and has an external hammer. The H&R Handi Rifle in .35 Whelen and 45-70 is king. On private lands for the rest of the primitive weapons season it's gun of choice as long as it's legal during regular gun season. So if you want to use your AR 15 with 30 round mags during primitive weapons season you can. For public lands you're stuck with the scoped Handi Rifle.
     
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  18. woodnbow
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    woodnbow Contributing Member

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    I get the feeling the authors of that bill have less than a passing acquaintance with firearms generally and primitive weapons particularly.
     
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  19. Zygodactyl

    Zygodactyl Member

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    I don't know if it is declining watching the local SASS matches. Over half the participants shoot in the Frontier Cartridge category, meaning they shoot black powder. They are pretty vocal about the use of Holy Black and have won some converts. True they aren't using muzzle loading rifles, but they use an awful lot of black powder.
     
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  20. dirt-poor

    dirt-poor Member

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    There are other reasons we could think of that influence the cycles of rising and falling black powder popularity. It's not only about shooters neglecting to do their part in promoting it.

    Consider for example:

    - The modern firearms industry has very little interest in promoting black powder weapons or sports. The central focus of gun manufacturing and marketing is on the latest technologies, and so are most gun publications and most of the shooting world.

    - A big part of popular interest in black powder weapons has directly correlated with interest in their associated American history. In recent decades, we have seen more and more historical revisionism. More and more vilification of historical figures and the American experience in general. Politically progressive indoctrination from kindergarten through college has already displaced the teaching of historical truth. Younger generations don't know history. I'd guess not so many young guys are motivated to be historical reenactors.

    - What about the availability of black powder firearms? Not impressive compared to modern guns, especially in the past couple of years. And the availability of high-quality black powder replicas has always been limited.

    None of these observations pertain much to inlines. I don't know much about them.
     
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  21. hawg

    hawg Member

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    The town closest to me only has a population of about 2000. From what I've seen of the kids there their biggest aspiration is to be gang bangers. Most people that buy inlines only do so to extend their hunting. They don't even care enough to learn how to clean them. My ex's brother bought one and lost a nice deer due to a misfire. I tried to show him how to clean it and care for it even tho I don't like inlines but he said that's too much BS. I think he gave it away after that. Most of us that are into bp are older. When we're gone it will take a serious downturn. Even more than it already has. Will it go away? I dunno. I won't be around to see it.
     
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  22. AlexanderA
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    AlexanderA Member

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    Yes. The biggie was Civil War reenacting, which was huge in the 1980's (the 125th anniversary cycle). You can't stage a Civil War battle if you don't have people willing to play the roles of Confederates.

    Here's my rack of repro muskets from the Civil War (and earlier). All veterans of various reenactments. From left to right, they are a Brown Bess, M1795, M1816, M1842, M1842 (rifled and sighted), M1855, M1861, M1861, M1861 Special, M1863 Type II. The bayonets of the last seven are all originals.

    IMG_0317a.jpg
     
    Last edited: Aug 9, 2022
  23. brewer12345

    brewer12345 Member

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    I am pushing 50. If commercial powder and caps go away, I can make my own.
     
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  24. dave951

    dave951 Member

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    I was there for the 125th and 130th events. Gettysburg 125th was the largest ever held in the US. These days, just showing a Confederate flag in some places can stir a bunch of trouble.
     
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  25. dave951

    dave951 Member

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    I'm going out on a limb here but I'd say the largest black powder shooting organization in terms of consumption is the North South Skirmish Association. I am a member and one of the largest suppliers, in terms of quantity of powder moved, is Back Creek Gun Shop. BCGS is right at the exit to our main range and has been the main supplier to the N-SSA for years. Just last month, the mucky muckys of Estes (Goex), Schuetzen, and Wano paid Jackie a personal visit and he shared a little of their comments with me and some others.

    But here's quick estimate of our consumption-
    These figures are for Individual "bullseye" competition at ONE National competition
    1200 competitors- Musket: 200 Pounds of Powder. 2,100 pounds of lead
    1100 competitors- Carbine: 140 pounds of powder. 1,885 pounds of lead
    340 competitors- Smoothbore: 75 pounds of powder, 685 pounds of lead
    340 competitors- Breechloader: 43 pounds of powder, 290 pounds of lead
    150 competitors- SS/Breechloader: 20 pounds of powder, 128 pounds of lead

    Approximately 5,100 pounds of lead and 480 pounds of powder used in individual competition ALONE in ONE Nationals and we have 2 Nationals per year so this figure on a per annum basis is double- and this doesn't even cover cap use rates.

    These figures are for Team Competition at ONE National competition-
    Musket- 575lb of powder, 5600lb of lead
    Carbine- 260lb of powder, 3400lb of lead
    Smoothbore- 130lb of powder, 1000lb of lead
    Breechloader- 13lb of powder, 110lb of lead

    Approximately 5 TONS of lead and 978lb of powder expended in team competition ALONE in ONE Nationals and we have 2 Nationals per year and again, doesn't even cover cap use rates.

    So in just our SMALL ARMS competition (and I left out the small taters ie handguns) the N-SSA in holding 2 National competitions per year goes through 15 TONS of lead and 2.5 TONS of powder each year and that's only for Nationals in the Small Arms categories. And I haven't even touched on the artillery guys yet. You can imagine where the numbers go with those guys playing with their big toys.

    Couple those numbers with Skirmishes (competitions) being shot somewhere almost every other weekend, add in powder and lead expended in practicing by individuals and it's hard to say there's anybody using more than we are besides the US gov/military/industry. I personally use about 35-40lb of Swiss per year and thousands of caps and I'm not a "power user" like some of the artillery guys are. One of them I spoke with goes through about 500lb per year.

    The sad part is few people have ever heard of the North South Skirmish Association other than the powder and cap suppliers.
     
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