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posted Jun 20, 2015, 6:40 AM by Morgantown GunClub   [ updated Jun 20, 2015, 6:57 AM ]


In the early to mid-1800’s, trappers would gather each spring for a “Rendezvous” on their way to sell their furs.  It was a grand event for those mountain men as most were on their own battling Mother Nature thru the winter for months.  As part of the festivities, they would hold a “Blanket Shoot” where everyone provided a prize to be placed on the blanket and the best shot got Braggin’ Rights.  The Winner of the shoot had first choice amongst the prizes, the Second Place shooter picked next, and so on.  So in this tradition, the Morgantown Rod & Gun Club is holding its’ own Rendezvous this June with a Muzzle Loader Blanket Shoot.  It is set up to test your skill as a marksman and to have fun at the same time.  It is open to all Club Members and the General Public.  

This year’s shoot to be held Saturday, June 27th.  Registration will start at noon. Shooter meeting at 12:45 with the shoot starting at 1:00. Light refreshments will be available starting at noon.

The following will outline the particulars of the Shoot.


The entry fee will be $10.00 per shooter for the use of the facilities.  Each participant will also provide a “Gift” of $20 value or more for the Blanket.  The Gift can be black powder or shooting related, but not necessarily so.  (I have a well mounted grey squirrel I won a few years back.)  Hand made items lend to the nostalgia of the event.  Registration will be from noon ‘til 1 PM and the shoot will begin at 1 PM with a brief orientation.  The Club will provide all targets along with black powder solvent and patches for routine cleaning.  Each shooter will be responsible for powder, patches, and balls for their individual guns.  Cold sodas, water and snacks will be available throughout the afternoon. 

Guns and Ammo:

Both flintlock and percussion guns are acceptable and there are no caliber restrictions, however, only patched round balls are allowed.  No conical, minie, or Maxi balls.  Black powder or “fake” black powder (Pyrodex) is allowed but each shooter is responsible for the proper granulation and load for their weapon.  Only loose powder loads and patched round balls, no cartridge or in-line guns can be used.  Also, only iron or aperture/peep sights will be allowed.  No tubular, telescopic or “aim point” type sights are permitted.  The shoot is currently oriented for only rifles.

(Unfortunately at this time, black powder pistol interest is limited but hopefully we can put something together in the future.)


First and foremost, we are concerned about Safety!  Since we don’t have contained cartridges and have loose powder, we must be on our toes!  Black Powder can ignite from a spark or a lingering ember in the barrel, but also from compression.  (I didn’t think so, but I shot a left over ½ pound can of black powder with my .30-06 at 100 yards a few years back and the explosion was impressive.)  For Safety, each participant will be teamed with one or two others so we have a safe shoot.  Plus it makes loading and pouring powder easier. 

Loading and Priming:  Loading a gun may be performed behind the firing line at anytime.  However, you cannot prime or cap a gun until it is your turn to shoot and you are ready on the firing line.  Only one primed/caped gun at a time will be allowed on the line.  And as always, you should minimize the time your face, hands and fingers are in front of or near the muzzle during loading.

Snapped Cap/Flash in the Pan/Hang Fires/Etc.:   While on the firing line, if you pull the trigger and the gun fails to fire you must maintain aim of the gun at the backstop.  Black powder guns are well known for misfires and hang fires, especially flintlocks.  We will review our procedures for such events at the Orientation.

One final and most important note:  The loading of a gun CANNOT be done directly from a flask, powder horn or powder can!  Loading MUST be from a powder measure that can hold no more than 200 grains.

The Shoot:

There will be two rounds:  1.) Standard X-Ring Target at varying distances and shooting positions for a total of 50 possible points.  2.) Five “novelty” targets for an additional 50 points.  Both rounds are designed to test your skill as a black powder marksman.  You must know where you gun will hit at 10 yards and at 100 yards and at distances in between.

First Round:   5 shots: Standard NMLRA 100 yard target, best point score per shot, 50 Points Maximum.

25 Yards: Standing/Off Hand;
50 Yards: Kneeling;
75 Yards: Sitting;
100 Yards: Prone, no artificial rests allowed;
100 Yards: Bench rest; sand bags allowed.

Second Round - Novelty Targets:  These are targets designed to test your skill both as a marksman and as a mountain man in difficult situations.  They each l have a Maximum 10 point Score but there are also negative values.  Choose your aiming point carefully and decide “Do I shoot safe or go for the max?”  All targets are 1 shot each with a total of 50 point Maximum for the 5 targets.

1.)    The Cross:  This will break you in easy to the “novelty” targets.  25 yards, any position you like, including bench rest and sandbags.  (Although, shooting off-hand would be a stud shot.)  1 to 10 points possible and if you miss the 8.5” x 11” target = Zero.

2.)    Split the Ball:  This is an ax blade facing you with a Clay Bird positioned on either side.  You must center your shot on the face of the ax blade so that the soft lead ball is split breaking the Clay Birds on either side.  25 Yards bench rest, sand bags.  Miss = 0, Break One Bird = 5 Points, Break Both Birds = 10 points. (Just knocking the bird or birds off the target does not count.  One or both must physically be broken by the shot.)

3.)    Shoot the Acorn:  You’ve set your traps for the day and you need some deer meat to fill your larder.  So it’s late afternoon and you settle into your hide near a favorite deer crossing and wait.  Every 20 minutes or so, something rustles to your left.  You turn and it’s just some low hanging acorns dangling in the wind.  No deer ever crosses this evening and them dang acorns have spooked you five or six times.  Shoot the Acorns!  Sitting, 10 yards at a cardboard target hanging from a cord.  This is all or nothing, Hit = 10 Points, Miss = Zero Points.

4.)    Shoot the Snake:  You are walking along and suddenly a Rattler sounds just off the trail.  You must stand on one foot to shoot to avoid a strike.  Only one foot is allowed to be on the ground.  It can be either your right or left foot but only one can be flat on the ground.  The sole of the other foot can be placed anywhere else you like but NOT touching the ground.  Shot at 10 yards and points range from 3 to 10 Points Max.  If you miss the 8.5” x 11” target = Zero.

5.)    The Girl:  Since you have been in the back woods for the past 6 months, you can take your time with this one.  10 yards, but it must be shot standing/off hand.  Points range from -2 to 10 Maximum.  If you miss the 8.5” x 11” target = Zero.

6.)    The Cross:  The last “novelty” target is the Cross.  15 yards, any position you like.  1 to 10 points an if you miss the 8.5” x 11” target = Zero.


Scoring, Judging and the Winner:

Since this is likely to be a small affair this first year, and in the Mountain Man tradition, all of the participants will have an equal say in judging the scores.  I reckon 90%-95% of the shots will be a no brainer and the other 5% to 10% should be resolved by Majority Rule.  For all paper targets, if your ball touches a line, even in the smallest way, the score will be for the higher value.  If your ball just puts the slightest nick in the paper target edge, you will get credit for the minimum value.  Acorn and split the ball, the target/targets must show physical damage (lead smear, chip, etc.) from a hit.  If there is not a consensus amongst the participants on a particular shot, the Shoot Organizer will be the final arbiter of any scoring resolutions. 

Any tied scores will be resolved with one shot by each the tied competitor, off hand at 50 yards using the NMLRA Target until the tie is resolved with highest score winning or until the tied Competitors agree to a resolution, or hell freezes over.

The Winner will be the shooter with the highest point score and will have the Honor to choose first from the Prizes on the “Blanket”.  The next highest Scorer will choose their prize next and so on.