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Black powder is a real blast

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POSTED March 20, 2011 11:39 p.m.
If you’ve never shot black powder guns before you ought to give it a try.

It transports you back in time as you pour the powder down the barrel, drop the lead ball or shot in and tamp it down with a ramrod. The first time I shot a black powder gun was in 1967 in Virginia, when my cousin Lou showed me how to shoot his 58 caliber Civil War musket. You had to let the smoke cloud blow away before you could see if you hit your target!

A year or so my son Bo and I bought a black powder pistol. It was a replica of an 1851 Navy Colt revolver. With a traditional black powder gun you only get one shot before you have to reload, that’s why Sam Colt’s revolver was such a technological breakthrough. You could fire six times before you had to reload. Amazing! Shooting a single shot rifle that must be reloaded after every shot really makes you appreciate our modern guns.

Another drawback to the old black powder guns was the actual smoke cloud itself. Not only did the smoke obscure your vision, but in a combat situation it also gave away your position to the enemy. Even if you were hidden in the brush, your enemy could simply see the smoke cloud and often hit you!

In his book “Rough Riders” Teddy Roosevelt complained about the dangers of gun smoke giving away our position to the enemy in the conflict in Cuba in 1898.
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