As with all niche hobbies, black powder firearms come with a particular set of requirements. A proper outdoor venue is a must. If you don’t have access to land that is free of firearms restrictions then an outdoor range is your next best option. Don’t even think about an indoor range unless the range in question doubles as a smokehouse for BBQ (no luck in finding that YET).
The closest outdoor range to my home in Marietta is Creekside firing range in Taylorsville GA. The range manager is Fred, and aside from a few good natured rate of fire jabs, Fred has been nothing but friendly and accommodating to us old school firelock folks.
Naturally, people are curious when they see the muzzle loaders. We happily answer all questions and we even promise that some of those answers are actually factually true. Here are some of the common answers to questions about the Charleville (whether they specifically ask them or not).
- Its a 1777 Charleville smoothbore musket. It is not a rifle. Rifles have grooved bores.
- This is a late Revolutionary War/Napoleonic era firearm. A few Americans as well as the French soldiers used this musket at Yorktown.
- French support was essential in winning the Revolutionary war. They also used this musket to conquer all of Europe (too bad it didn’t double as a space heater in Russia eh?).
.69 caliber. Here is the lead ball. It’s hand made by my buddy Wesley. He used lead from wheel weights to make them.
- The inaccuracy of a musket is overstated. No issue hitting a target at 50 yards.
- It doesn’t kick as much as it shakes.
- Of course you can fire it. Let me load it for you.
- Want to load it yourself? Ok. Don’t put too much powder in the pan. Remind me to tell you a story about that…
- If the spark ignites the pan but does not discharge the musket, this is called a “flash in the pan”. This is where the phrase originated from.
- Its heavy for a reason. This weapon also serves as a pike for defense against cavalry and other infantrymen. Thinner and lighter weapons don’t hold together well when used as a club. This is a soldiers weapon–not a hunters.
- Washington insisted that he Continentals be equipped with muskets because they were faster loading, sturdier, and could be fitted with bayonets. It was superior to any rifle technology at the time and was the preferred weapon of war.
- The flint strikes the frizzen which creates a spark that ignites the powder in the pan. The resulting fire travels through the touchhole to ignite the powder in the barrel. There is VERY little delay in this series of events.