Thoughts from the Editor
Bob's slip to the dark side.
Welcome to the latest volume of The Blackpowder Journal. This volume is our summer volume, only because it's summer in the North America. My typical summer is spent working around our place, that is doing all that damn yard work that my wife seems to love. Whenever I can get away, I try to do a little shooting. Gotta keep my toys from laying idle too long. Just last week my good friend Bob brought over a video tape of his latest toy, a chronograph. It seems that Bob has always had this perverse modern powder streak running through him. He's done a fine job of hiding it from his friends and I think his wife. But finally, after 60 years, it has emerged as a full fledged monster.
I first began to wonder about Bob a couple of years ago. I always thought Bob was a dyed in the wool black powder shooter. I did know that in his younger days he done some modern shooting, but I thought that he'd outgrown the habit. When I met him, if it didn't have a flint it wasn't worth a damn. Then one day, about ten years ago, he brought out a German air rifle fitted with a scope. "For my son", he claimed and he smiled as he put it to his shoulder. Since he lived in the city I figure that this was just his way to thin the neighborhood pests. By the time he moved to his farm, I believed his modern days where gone forever. Little did I know the what sinister forces lay underneath that calm exterior.
About five years ago I purchased a Thompson Center Contender, in .44 Mag, for deer hunting. My intentions were to use to hunt on the days that I didn't want to use my muzzle loader. The gun turned out to be superb, and since I love pistols it became my choice for our modern deer season. Well like any man with a new toy, I had to show the gun to Bob. Of course Bob shot it, commented on how well she felt, smiled and handed it back. He went back to shooting his flintlock, apparently none the worse for the experience. During last years deer season he used his muzzle loader to down a nice buck with a head shot. Then came our Annual Junk Shoot. A kind of, "shoot what ya brung", event that began one July and has ended up happening every January.
During the shoot Bob actually acted interested in my Contender. He asked for her by name, almost shyly. You know, like a teenage boy talking to his sweetheart. So I got her out and let him play with her while I worked out a load for my muzzle loader. I guess I should have gotten suspicious when he produced a box of .44 Mags. "Just some left overs," was the only comment I got. I shrugged and let him shoot. Later I cleaned his clock shooting 50 yard targets with our flint locks. All during our lunch I kidded him about wasting his time with that modern suppository gun. Thinking back I may have pushed him a little to hard. A couple of weeks later he started his swan dive. He went to the local gun show unescorted. "Traded some old junk for this used Contender with a .357 Max pistol barrel, .218 rifle barrel and stock." He looked like he'd just seen heaven as he let me hold his new love. What could I say, I already owned one. In fact I was probably responsible for the affliction. I just smiled, "She's really a beaut, Bob." I hoped that his infatuation with the dark side wasn't going any farther. Then the "Chrony" thing happened.
On the way home from work I stopped at the local black powder shop. "Saw Bob in here the other day," Ozzie volunteered "Yeah, how was he doing?" "Okay, I guess?" "You heard he bought a Contender." "Yeah, earlier this year." "Don't know what he's thinking," I lamented "Neither do we." Ozzie replied and the other guys nodded their heads in agreement. "You know he bought a Chrony from us and was in here yesterday to pick it up." "A Chrony, a chronograph?", I began to get a funny feeling in my gut. "What in the heck is he going to do with that?" I was in a panic. Course Oz had no answer so we just shot the breeze. Mainly we talked about how ones mental capacity diminishes with age. The conversation took quite a while since we are both highly qualified to discuss the topic. This is where the video tape comes in.
Bob wouldn't have me as worried if I hadn't seen the video tape. But I did see it and I'm afraid it might be too late. Imagine, if you can, one of your best friends walking in to your home and popping a tape into your VCR, right in the middle of the latest Gun Smoke rerun. Imagine how nervous you'd feel if the Matt Dillion's showdown was replaced by "Bob shooting plastic milk bottles full of water." An edited, professional production, mind you, complete with slow motion footage and background music-- (barn yard animals wailing in distress and Bobs wife insisting that he come in for dinner). Then imagine the wave of grief that might pass through you as your friend described his presentation. And describes it with the rapture most men reserve for those special explainations of "young things" walking down the street. I was sick. No, I was depressed. What had happen to my friend? He explained he was only walking on the wild side so that he could work a load up for the .218 and "maybe I'll dabble with the .357 a bit." "Black Powder?" "Oh sure I intend to test my black powder guns, maybe even do an article for your E-Zine," he promised with a smile. "By the way, if you buy the die for your .44 I can load some shells for you." To tell you the truth I was not reassured. I don't know, maybe he won't be seduced by the dark side. I promise to be more careful in the future.
For those of you who are still dedicated to black powder shooting this volume of the Black Powder Journal has some great articles. Hank Strong has agreed to share another one of his inline rifle tests with his review of the Knight Rifle. We are looking forward to his comments on a number of the new inline rifles in the coming volumes. If you own a modern side lock muzzle loading rifle, then check out Hanks other article, "It's All In The Barrel." You may find that getting maximum accuracy from bullet and sabot loads does not require an inline rifle after all. For our round ball fans, check out Ozzies' "Guide To Muzzle Loading Accuracy." Interested in reenacting? This months video review of Pioneering; Volume I and Volume II is a must. And finally rounding out this volume for our history buffs, is the continuation of "Ammunition Supply In Revolutionary Virginia." Enjoy, keep shooting and keep you powder dry.