Jessie McClain, NRA's Program Coordinator for Black Powder, sends us the latest from the National Muzzle Loading Championships in Friendship, Indiana.

For the last three years, Bill Baskin has been operating the Rifle Beginner’s Bench at the National Muzzle Loading Rifle Association’s National Spring Shoot and the NRA’s National Muzzle Loading Championships. “I love doing this because I get to see a kid’s eyes light up when he realizes how much fun this is,” he said with a grin. One child went so far as to tell him that shooting a muzzle loader is better than hang-gliding!

Today, Brandon Jarrett was a lucky customer, shooting a muzzle loader for the first time. Brandon said shooting a muzzle loader was different than shooting his .22, but that he enjoyed it. Mr. Baskin feels that the Beginner’s Bench is a very important part of this event because it allows people to shoot muzzle loading that would not normally even try. “Its better for someone to learn here or at a local match, where experienced shooters can help them through the learning process,” Mr. Baskin explained.

Shooters who are interested in finding a local club should log on to the NMLRA’s website or should check out their publication, Muzzle Blasts .

Beretta Model 92 used by Bruce Willis in ''Die Hard'' and Mel Gibson in ''Lethal Weapon''As we reported last week, the National Firearms Museum sent a collection of firearms to the National Muzzle Loading Rifle Association's Spring Shoot, which continues through this week. Assistant Curator Matt Sharpe served as keeper of the guns.

The NMLRA represents about 40,000 active members. While it was a long drive from Fairfax, VA, to Friendship, IN, Sharpe had the chance to display a few particularly notable Hollywood Guns, including the Remington 11-87 silenced shotgun from No Country for Old Men, the Beretta Model 92 used by Bruce Willis in Die Hard and Mel Gibson in Lethal Weapon, pictured at right, the original antique 7 barrel Nock volley musket used in The Alamo, and even an original lightsaber from The Empire Strikes Back.

Sharpe set up the display in the Rand House Museum, which is affiliated with the NMLRA, and provided a side activity for those visiting the Spring Shoot. Although on the first day of the trip “we suffered torrential downpours,” Sharpe said, “On Saturday and Sunday we had a great crowd – hundreds of people came through each day.”

This was Sharpe’s first year attending the Spring Shoot, and he said that while all the Hollywood Guns were popular, “Probably the Nock volley 7 barrel flintlock musket generated the most dialogue and attention.”


The Rand House MuseumThe National Firearms Museum's Phil Schreier has long been a staple of the National Muzzle Loading Rifle Association's Spring Shoot in Friendship, Indiana. This year, Schreier's trusty assistant, Matt Sharpe, will be representing the Museum.

"We're pleased to present a selection of firearms from our newest exhibit in the William B. Ruger Gallery, Hollywood Guns," Schreier told NRAblog. "On display for the next calendar year here in Fairfax, VA, are 75 of Hollywood’s most iconic shooting irons and props."

"This weekend, however, visitors to the NMLRA Spring Shoot will have the chance to see the Remington 11-87 silenced shotgun from No Country for Old Men, the Beretta Model 92 used by Bruce Willis in Die Hard and Mel Gibson in Lethal Weapon, a lightsaber from the Empire Strikes Back, Dennis Quaid’s flintlock pistol from The Alamo, the rubber stunt gun used by Clint Eastwood in Dirty Harry, and the original antique 7 barrel Nock volley gun from The Alamo."

If you can make it to the Friendship, Indiana area this weekend, take a moment to stop in and see Sharpe and these fabulous firearms. They will be at the Rand House Museum, pictured above, all day Saturday and Sunday, June 12-13, and until noon on Monday, June 14.

The following update comes to us via the blog of the National Muzzle Loading Rifle Association (NMLRA):
Spring Shoot Events Schedule

The National Muzzle Loading Rifle Association in Friendship, Indiana will hold its week-long celebration of all things relating to the sport and history of muzzleloading June 12th – 20th. Early American living history demonstrations and classes, museum displays, black powder shooting competitions, shopping opportunities, a wine tasting, youth activities, and some of the finest commercial vendors in the muzzleloading community will be featured. The National Spring Shoot is an opportunity to view an important part of our nation’s heritage in operation.

...National-class competitive muzzleloading shooting is a strong focus of this gathering. As a special feature this year, the National Rifle Association (NRA) will be bringing their Muzzleloading Championship matches to the National Spring Shoot! The NRA and NMLRA have teamed up to bring many new competition opportunities, as participants can now compete in the NRA National Muzzle Loading Championships and at the same time shoot the NMLRA’s National Spring Shoot! Try to win an NRA National Championship and set NRA national records, all while shooting for NMLRA honors, too! There are so many matches that there is truly something for shooters of all skill levels, and with all types of muzzleloading equipment. Win, lose, or draw, all the matches are enjoyable, and a great opportunity to learn by shooting with the best. A special feature of the competition area is the Youth Range, developed by the National Muzzle Loading Rifle Association as a way to safely teach children how to shoot muzzleloading firearms and get them involved and engaged in the sport at a young age!

To see truly fine examples of craftsmanship, visit Gunmaker’s Hall during the Nationals. Exhibited at this facility are some of the finest examples of modern gunbuilding by today’s master craftspeople. Gunmaker’s Hall also sponsors a series of lectures during the Shoot.

Read more here.

Art, at the Women On Target Instructional Shooting ClinicThe participants of Saturday's Women On Target Instructional Shooting Clinic met a wide variety of characters on the range. The common factor? Each is passionate about being an NRA Certified Instructor.

Art, pictured at left, is a muzzleloading enthusiast. He's also on the board of directors at the Izaac Walton League's Fairfax Chapter, which played host for the day's clinic. He's volunteered at the club's annual Women On Target event for several years.

The participants at this particular range shot rifles and pistols in a variety of calibers.

They had the option of joining Art and his peers at the very end of the range for some muzzleloading experience. One of the selling points for the ladies? Art's wall gun.

"They did exist during the Revolutionary War," he told a young woman. "Washington ordered four of them." Wall guns don't fire modern-day ammunition; they require a sizable four-ounce ball. "They're heavy, but they are long range, and used in fort defence."

Blunderbuss at the NRA Women On Target Instructional Shooting Clinic

NRAblog checked in with Art to ask how the morning was progressing. He said his lanes at the range were incredibly popular. "It's because we've got odd looking toys, as youve noticed," he explained. 

"The blunderbuss, people have only seen in the museums," he said of the gun pictured at right. He also reported that several event participants expressed an interest in learning more about this particular discipline, pointing out that one of the volunteers assisting women met him through this exact event several years ago.

"What are you doing a week from tomorrow?" he asks with a smile before inviting a new shooter to attend his local shoot. "The worst that can happen is you get dirty."

NRA's Competitive Shooting's H.Q. Moody, Jessie McClain & Mike KreiEvery year, NRA's Competitive Shooting Division awards the President's Trophy to the Committee that experienced the greatest percentage of growth in their competitions. Bucking traditional favorites -- pistol and rifle -- the 2009 award landed squarely in the Black Powder trophy case. Competitive Shooting Director Mike Krei (right) and National Rifle Manager H.Q. Moody (left) took advantage of a recent staff meeting to present the trophy to Jessica McClain, Secretary of the Black Powder Committee.

Black Powder went through a number of changes in 2009, most significant being the partnership between the National Muzzle Loading Rifle Association (NMLRA) and NRA for the National Championships. With over 1,500 shooters participating last year, the 2010 season promises to be a challenging one.

"Many people have worked hard to make this Championship as successful as possible," McClain told NRAblog. "I'm just so glad that we are heading in the right direction and increasing the benefit to competitive shooters everywhere."

Filming an NRA training DVD

NRA’s Training Department is hard at work creating another training DVD, but this time we’re talking black powder and muzzle loading. Downstairs in the NRA studio, the team from MetaMedia filmed the cleaning portion of the video, taught by Marty Murphy, past-President of the National Muzzle Loading Rifle Association (NMLRA) and NRA Certified Instructor.

This new training DVD is a joint effort between NRA and NMLRA and will be unveiled at the 2010 SHOT Show in Las Vegas. Industry support from NSSF, Cabela's, and many more made this production of this video possible to help more people become involved in the black powder and muzzle loader shooting sports.

NRAblog will let you know when this DVD is available and how to order, so check back for more updates. Take a look at other training videos on reloading and NRA's Personal Protection Oustide the Home course.

For the past two years, the Oregon State Team has taken top honors at Youth Hunter Education Challenge (YHEC) as the top Senior Team, and they're back hoping to clinch their third win in a row. NRAblog caught up with the group from Oregon at the Muzzleloading Event to see how the competition was going so far.

"They're doing very well, but we haven't had any perfect scores yet," said Muzzleloading Event Director Charlie Fox as he watched the team members compete.

This year Oregon brought 10 young hunters to make one senior and one junior team. Coach Carl Shaver emphasized that fun and good sportsmanship were of paramount importance to his teams, and he doesn't want to focus on another win.

"The kids are having fun. We try not to put any added pressure on them, they put enough pressure on themselves. They've worked very hard to get to this level," said Coach Shaver.

With just one day of competition left, it's still anyone's game. Bookmark NRAblog for quick access to YHEC coverage and final results on Friday.

NRA National Rifle Manager H.Q. Moody Tonight's 9 p.m. - midnight edition of Cam & Company on NRA News features not one but two guests from NRA's General Operations.

First up, NRA National Rifle Manager H.Q. Moody talks about his recent trip to Friendship, Indiana, for the National Muzzle Loading Rifle Association's Spring National Shoot. Moody is scheduled to go on-air at 10:20 pm EST. (View his photos from the event here.)

Then, listen for Jeremy Greene, Event Services Manager over in NRA Field Operations. Greene is coordinating the annual Youth Education Summit, happening this week with 45 of the nation's brightest high school students. The youth will hear from a variety of NRA staff throughout the week. They will visit the U.S. Capitol, the NRA Museum, the NRA Headquarters Range, and more.

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