THOUGHTS AND AFTERTHOUGHTS ON THE 87TH NATIONAL SKIRMISH

Having returned from an enjoyable experience at the 87th National Skirmish at Fort Shenandoah, I feel impelled to craft a few words of gratitude to those who worked so hard to make the 87th National such a treat. I believe that the whole operation, from check-in to Sunday afternoon, was well organized and well staffed. I heard many skirmishers remark that the individuals went particularly smoothly, and that plenty of target pullers helped set the right tone. Sure, they had great weather, but I'll bet they were organized for anything. My hat is off, and a big "huzza" goes out to the members of the Deep South and Northwest Regions who did such a great job.

You know, this is a good time to bring up another point I've pondered in the past. Why does the Skirmish Director get all the recognition after a National Skirmish? It is the guys (and now gals, too) gruntin' the targets, etc., who deserve the recognition. Why can't we have some kind of badge that recognizes everyones' participation in a National Skirmish? Given the average time a member spends belonging to an organization, and the lengthy cycle of team assignments to Nationals, and factor in the folks who always seem to leave clubs when their duty is on the horizon, it would be a decent and fair tribute to those members who do work hard to help make National Skirmishes happen. I don't see why a little "honor pin" couldn't be awarded to every member who works at a national skirmish. Maybe the N-SSA seal with the National number struck upon it would be appropriate. It certainly seems more equitable than awarding one star to one person when so many do the work. If you agree, mention it to your Regional Commander.

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"WHO'LL EAT THE CAKE ..."

"Who'll eat the cake ?," said the little red hen. We've all heard the story of the hen who does all the work, gets none of the help she asks for, yet shares with her barnyard foibles. All of us who enjoy the sport of musket shooting and skirmishing can find a message in this fable.

When you pack your car or truck and head for that event, you are only starting that journey because some lil' red hen has done all the work before you get there. Be it NMLRA or N-SSA event, there is a lot of grindin', siftin' an bakin' that goes into puttin' on a shoot - it takes a whole passel of red hens to get the job done.

The question I want to pose to you is this - what are you doing to help the hobby prosper and grow? Are you a little red hen?

It has been my experience, in life and in skirmishing, that there are several types of people. Some people make things happen; some people like what's happening; a few people don't like what's happening, and too many people don't know what's happening! I would like to encourage you to be a shooter who helps make things happen.

Rookie or veteran, there is room for your contributions in the organization of your choice. Maybe you could assist your club by taking on more responsibilities as an elected or appointed officer. Does your organization have a newsletter? Start one. Can you help care for and repair club equipment? Volunteer to do it. The need goes far beyond your club level. What is the one thing you are uniquely qualified to contribute to your shooting club, skirmishing region or national organization? Can you provide a service or talent that will improve that organizations service?

After you have decided what it is you would like to do, make it known that you want to do it. Go to your club, region or national officers and say, "Hey, I wanta contribute. Here's what I can do." Also, keep your ears open. If you want to help, but honestly can't think of something to do, give your name and number to your N-SSA Regional Commander or NMLRA State Representative. They'll find something for you to do, you can bank on it!

Once you've made your desires known, and received your assignment/appointment, you'll want to follow a few simple rules. Remember, you volunteered to help. Don't get caught up in organizational politics - avoid them at all costs. The hobby needs worker bees, not wanna bees. Be honest. If you get stuck with a bunch a people you can't work with, ask to be reassigned - there are plenty of jobs out there. If you can't work with anybody, there still should be a job for you. BE A TEAM PLAYER.

Once you get on a team, keep your ears to the ground. Be a good listener on the line. If you hear things your group or some other group should know, tell 'em, and tell 'em where you heard it. Good communications are essential to a successful effort. Be part of the communication network.

What kinds of volunteers are needed? All kinds. The North- South Skirmish Association presently lists twenty-nine committee chairpersons with specific responsibilities.

deleted due to outdated listings

The March-April Skirmish Line contains a complete index of points-of-contact for all N-SSA Committees. I would recommend that you contact the committees through your Regional Commander. Tell Your RC what committee you would like to serve on, and ask him to see if there is an opening for you. This approach yields much better results than appealing directly, and, it lets your RC know you want to serve. The RC may very well be able to use you in a similar manner if the national committee can not.

There are many ways to help in the NMLRA as well. The NMLRA has several national committees which focus on activities at the Friendship, Indiana, home of the organization. The Gunmakers Hall Committee, the Museum/Library Committee and Commercial Row Committee all serve specific needs at The Range. Many local NMLRA clubs hold annual shoots, and can use assistance at these events. If you're a "crossover" musket shooter and rendezvous as well, your local 'vous can always use help. NMLRA members will probably be best served by seeking out their State Field Representative when they want to volunteer. The FR has his or her ear to the ground and will be able to match you up with a group that will be glad to have you. Every issue of Muzzle Blasts, that excellent publication every NMLRA household receives, lists the current field reps. I encourage you to call your FR and volunteer to help in any way you can.

Don't rule out the possibility of drop-in help. If you are at a NMLRA shoot and can spare the time, there's always something to do. Score targets, help new shooters or repair target frames. Find the people running the shoot and volunteer a couple of hours. At N-SSA events, Doc Hughes might need some coverage, or just somebody to run messages. Seek and you shall find.

Helping out doesn't have to be a national endeavor. Start a new carbine or pistol team if your club doesn't have one. The additional comraderie will greatly improve your enjoyment of this hobby. And the more happy shooters we have, the happier we all will be.

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While I was at Ft. Shenandoah for the 87th National, I ran into Bill Osborne of Lodgewood Mfg. Bill and I discussed the Enfield replacement plates which were one of the topics of my May 1993 column. Bill had just got in some Enfield plates, and I managed to horse trade for one. It is a perfect replacement, and drops right in to my Enfield Musketoon, Rifle and Musket plate reliefs. Bill told me that these plates, marked "L. A. CO", are proper for the popular 3-band Enfiled musket carried by many reenactors and skirmishers, and should be on all future Euro Arms production of that arm starting in the near future. At about $25.00 plus shipping, it is a real value. Call Bill at Lodgewood 414-473-5444 or send a fax to 414-473-8970 for more info. These plates are great, and I hope to see more Enfield style plates with other markings soon.

Until the next time - shoot safe and have fun.

(C) 1993 Tom Kelley
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