On Shooting & Skirmishing

Welcome to the world of shooting and collecting civil war ordnance. As those of you who have been following the situation know, THE CIVIL WAR NEWS will be featuring a column dedicated to these topics, and I have been lucky enough to be selected to be one of the contributors. I hope everyone will learn something, and that everyone will share something in this space.

Shooting and collecting military ordnance from the War of Southern Independence is not new, indeed, it started in 1866! What I will try to accomplish is to distribute information on our topic to you. What I hope is you will find this information useful and enjoyable. Along these lines, if you own a musket, Mississippi Rifle, etc., and want to know more about shooting that replica safely for fun, please continue.

There are two national organizations which have established rules and classes for competitively firing of black powder muskets and revolvers, and these are the North-South Skirmish Association (N- SSA) and the National MuzzleLoading Rifle Association (NMLRA). The concepts of competing in each are totally different.

In the N-SSA, 8 man musket teams, firing weapons from an approved manufacturers list, compete for the lowest total time score. Breakable targets are hung at 100 or 50 yards, a buzzer sounds and the entire line cuts loose. Events usually last five minutes, although the really good teams rarely take more than two minutes to complete their event. After five or more events, a total time is tallied and the winner decided. The musket team is the backbone of the N-SSA. Additionally, there are carbine teams and pistol teams, and individual completion which involves shooting at paper targets for score at 50 or 100 yards, (25 or 50 for revolver). Artillery competition is another facet of N-SSA shooting, and is divided into rifled and smoothbore classes. Mortar competition is a new category recently added to the N-SSA. N-SSA matches are held from New York to New Orleans, but about half of the matches, or "skirmishes", are held at the N-SSA range 10 miles west of Winchester, VA. There are no individual memberships in the N-SSA, you have to find a team and join through the team.

Shooting your civil war musket or pistol is different in the NMLRA. Musket ranges are 50, 100 and 200 yards. You have 20 or more minutes to finish your target. There are no teams in the NMLRA, each individual competes on his or her own. Musket class matches are held at every Levi Garrett National Territorial Match, and these regional champs compete annually for national titles. The NMLRA has a home range in Friendship, Indiana, but sponsors many local blackpowder shoots nationwide. The NMLRA has an excellent monthly publication, MUZZLEBLASTS, filled with shooting information in general, and a list of shoots in particular.

For your information, there are other organizations which sponsor musket rifle shoots, but they are more regional than the NMLRA and N-SSA. Check the addresses at the end of this months column.

Besides shooting civil war arms, we will be discussing collecting them. There are as many ways to collect as there are to cook chicken, and everybody has their favorite. Some collectors only collect locks, some only collect foreign muskets, some only collect Springfields, and some collect everything. Each month, I will try to introduce you to a collector and/or a type of collecting, and I hope you enjoy that as much as the shooting tips and news.

For more information on organizations, contact:

National MuzzleLoading Rifle Association (NMLRA)

North-South Skirmish Association(N-SSA)

(c) 1991 by Tom Kelley
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