What is Black Powder Shooting?

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Author: Øyvind Flatnes
Category: Miscellaneous
Published: 11.24. 2007
Edited: Sunday 25 Nov. 2007, at 11:46 (GMT +1)
Views: 4115


Flintlock musket "by night". A spectacular sight, but many black powder weapons are accurate weapons as well.

NM 2006

The shooting range.

The sport of black powder shooting is now spread all over Norway and the rest of the world. In the following I will describe what we black powder enthusiast are doing. The powder we use in our weapons is called black powder which is a mixture of charcoal, saltpetre and sulphur. It was invented by the Chinese over 1000 years ago and until the late 1880's it was the only powder used in firearms. The Chinese used the powder in fireworks, but it was soon discovered that it could be used for war purposes. The first known use of black powder in war dates back to 1247 when the defenders of Seville used a cannon loaded with rocks against the intruders. The powder that is used in modern hunting weapons, machine guns, shotguns etc. is called smokeless powder and became common in the late 1880's. During the first decades of the 20th century the use of black powder almost vanished. Black powder is still an important ingredient in the modern armies; the largest cannons on the biggest battleships still uses black powder! Smokeless powder makes shooting cleaner, as it produces very little fouling in the barrel, and it produces very small amounts of smoke and flames when fired. In other words extremely boring!

2 Myths about Black powder Shooting

  • It is a terrible recoil in black powder weapons.
  • You won't hit a thing with them.

JaktBoth statements are far from being true. Black powder burns slowly and isn't by far as powerful as the modern powders. As an example we can use the enormous size of the Norwegian chamber loader from the 1850's: It fires a .69 calibre slug, but the recoil feels the same as if you were firing a 20 gauge shotgun. In other words, nothing to be afraid of. Most black powder guns are heavy and thus absorbing most of the recoil. Most black powder arms can be made to shoot very good, but it is sometimes hard work. Different loads, bullets and lubes has to be tested to achieve the best possible accuracy. In my opinion that is why so many new shooters give up the sport. The lack of guidance makes people fed up. But, with a little experience you'll quickly find out how you'll get a gun to shoot well, sometimes you will make it shoot just as well as an average quality modern arm. My tip is to never give up! When I first started shooting black powder I was a constant menace to everything but the target I was aiming at. In Norway the black powder shooters are members of the Norwegian Black powder Union (NSU): www.svartkruttunion.org

Find out more!
The upcoming book From Musket to Metallic Cartridge: A Practical History of Black Powder Firearms is perhaps the world's most comprehensive guide to black powder shooting.

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