I am a closet black-powder geek. Right now I only have one muzzle loader - a chit house, plain Jane garden variety .54 calibre Hawken Italian repro. The worst things about muzzle loaders is that they are dirty, smelly, slow and only good out to about 100~125 yards for the average rifleman - which I am.
The BEST things about black powder shooting is that it is dirty, smelly, slow and the guns are only good out to 100~125 yards....
That one in the pic is exactly like the one I have. Mass produced, soul-less...but it got me shooting. The guys that shoot black powder are intimidating to begin with - you will likely think them to be either mildly eccentric or utter loons - but why should something like insanity stand in the way of a good friendship between shooters? Some of the hardcore black powder geeks are politely referred to as 'Buck Skinners' and have made a hobby of living the way the old mountain men did in the 1700's in America's untamed western frontier.
Don't worry folks, he's harmless. He is a hobbyist that has made a sport out of trying to recreate the lifestyle of his ancestors - and he's doing a good job by the look of it. He won't try to buy or sell anything to you...but he will almost certainly entertain a good trade or some conversation. Most black powder geeks are blabber mouths - but fun to listen to.
A lot of people are turned off by the 'dress-up' aspect of this hobby but when ya think about it - is there any difference between this beardo in the pic above, and the Stetson-wearing cowboys of the Calgary Stampede? Or Klondike Kate and Klondike Mike up in Edmonton? These guys live for a PC lifestyle too - er...PC meaning 'period correct'. Their gear has to be handmade for the most part. It has to be well made too - in the style of the original makers. The gear looks to the modern gunner to be clumsy and awkward as hell...but when you actually hold and shoot a well made, properly functioning and loaded flintlocks...these weapons and accouterments become remarkably ergonomic, natural and practical. Once you're familiar with them the better specimens will strike you as down right elegant - and they are! What these guys are trying to create for themselves is a time when you went into the great unknown - with only what you could carry on your back and buy locally. Can you imagine staking your life on the gear that guy is using - for years at a time? Those were the people that built North America. If they couldn't buy or trade for it, they had to make it themselves - or they were dead!
Some buck skinners aren't content to merely buy their period correct plunder and accouterments - they have to make them themselves and this is where the hobby really gets interesting. A lot of old retired farts get into it and they have nothing but time, patience, and bushels of skill. When I retire I think I might go down to Toad Hall and apply for a job.
The silly old farts ... The apprentices ...are all in their 60's and their masters are even older! I would fit right in!
Goddamn senior delinquents! Literally playing with fire...!!!!
Look at the pipes on that old geezer in the tee shirt! Even the Great And Powerful Captain Sweatpants would be hard pressed to subdue that villain! ;) These guys build finished flintlocks and other guns from logs and bars of steel.
Everyone should have a matched set of duelling pistols around the house for those awkward social occasions when somebody refuses to mind his manners and a brawl or a knife fight would be undignified.
Curly Maple is king with blackpowder geeks and for good reason - it's durable and spectacular when properly stained and finished.
This is the work of a master. The carving, the inlays and the engraving are all art forms that can take years to develop. Don't think these are mere ornaments - a lot of people that buy these guns will shoot them and hunt with them as well.
Yannow everybody sweats bullets worrying about their retirement and saving for it. From what I've seen though, far too many people don't think much on what they are actually going to do when they retire and they get into trouble. My hyper-active father in law did - his retirement drove him nuts and nearly did me in too! I don't want to end up like that, I want to have better things to do than annoy the kids and neighbours. I already have most of the tools needed to do work like this - they aren't overly expensive...but a fella needs to practice on scrap lumber to learn how to use them. God and finances permitting, this may well be what I spend my final years doing.
I can think of worse ways to spend my final years.