1991 was a bad year for business, and an even worse year for Iraqi dictators. But some of us managed to enjoy shooting and skirmishing in 1991, and every reader who went to the line with a smile on his face last year, in my book, was a winner. They just don't give medals for enjoying ourselves, that's all.

1991 was a good year for Civil War News readers because they got TWO columns on shooting and collecting civil war weapons, and I'd like to take the time here to recognize some of the winners in 1991.

First, let's recognize the top five 1991 Levi Garret National Territorial Match winners in the Musket Aggregate. Those top five winning scores, and the Territorial they were shot at, were from Elwood Cullers, MD/DE/NJ/DC (273-5x); Bill Cude, VA/WV (265); Tip Curtis, PA (258-4x); Louis Miller, NY (258-2x); and Dick Vrooman, OR/WA (257-3x).

At the Levi Garret National Territorial Championships, held at the Fall National MuzzleLoading Rifle Association (NMLRA) Shoot in Friendship, Indiana, Ellwood Cullers won First Place with a score of 264-2x. Other top finishers, in order, and their scores, were: James Shride (261-2x), Robin Henderson (254- 2x), Bill Barnes (240-3x) and Sharron Smith (232-2x).

Concurrently at Friendship, the NMLRA Fall shoot Musket Aggregate was won by David Forland, who shot a 252-4x. Second place went to Bill Barnes, who turned in a 246-1x and bested Dick Lewis, who finished third with a 242-3x. The top three 50 yard musket scores were turned in by David Forland (92-2x), Roy Cunningham (92-1x) and Dennis Coleman (92). The top three 100 yard shooters were Dick Lewis (91-3x), David Forland (90-2x) and Ellwood Cullers (90-2x). James Speer, Bill Barnes and David Forland all shot 70 at 200 yards.

All the action in 1991 didn't happen in Friendship, and the N-SSA held their big Fall Shoot the first weekend in October near Winchester, Va. The N- SSA holds both team and individual competitions with several weapons. The individual competitions are divided into four skill levels: Expert, Sharpshooter, Marksman and Striker.

The top five Musket Teams, in order, were: The Washington Blue Rifles, The 6th Wisconsin Volunteers, The Dismal Swamp Rangers, the 44th New York Inf and Mosby's Rangers.

More than 200 Individual Medals were awarded in 39 classes. The top finishers in the Musket Aggregate, by level, were : Expert, R Peloquin, 188- 5x; Sharpshooter, L. Gibson, 187-3x; Marksman, O. Robertson, 184-2x, and, Striker, T. Kelley, 178-4x. The top finishers in the Carbine Aggregate, by level, were: Expert, L. Gibson 185-1x; Sharpshooter, L. Harrison, Jr, 181-2x; Marksman, R. Sylvester 179-1x, and Striker, C. Jorgensen 172-1x.

The N-SSA Grand Aggregate includes scores from 50 yard Musket, Carbine and Pistol, 100 yard Musket and Carbine and 25 yard Pistol. The possible score is 600. The winner, R. Peloquin, turned in a score of 547-8x, a notable feat. Space limitations prohibit listing every medal winner, but as you can tell, there are plenty of opportunities for you to go to the line with your Civil War ordnance and enjoy some competition. I hope you will join the NMLRA or N-SSA if you are not already a member, and participate in 1992 in the thrilling sport of shooting blackpowder weapons.

You don't have to win a medal to be a winner. If you can improve your scores this year, then you are a winner.

I am a firm believer in GOAL SETTING. I set out in 1991 to accomplish several goals. First, I wanted to build my own musket. Second, I wanted to learn which components would perform best with that newly constructed musket. Third, I wanted to go to more shoots, and more types of shoots, then ever before. Fourth, I wanted to develope a consistent attitude about attending and competing in shoots. Lastly, I wanted to be able to attend the Fall National Skirmish and shoot at least 170 in the musket aggregate.

These were all lofty goals in January 1991. I finished the musket in March, and began using it in competition in May. I shot in 10 N-SSA shoots and the Levi Garret Territorial for MD/DE/NJ/DC. I practiced. And I shot a 178 in the Musket Aggregate in October.

1991 was successful because I developed goals, and then directed my efforts toward achieving those goals. Each time out, practice or competition, I new what I was doing and why I was doing it.

Take inventory of what you want to accomplish in 1992. Set your goals so they are attainable for you. Don't say, "I want to win medals", rather say, "I want to shoot (score)". Then go out and try and shoot that score. When you start reaching that goal, knock it up 10 points. When you finish 1992, measure your success by how well you achieved goals that you set, not how many trophies you won. It will make you a winner in 1992.

And, if you only went to one shoot in 1991, and finished dead last with a fouled musket and a sore toe in the rain, if you had a smile in your heart and on your face 'cause you just love it, you were a winner in 1991. I also want to take the time to say thanks to the readers who have written or called in 1991 and said so many nice things. I appreciate the kind words, and just wanted to say thanks. Thanks also to my bride, who takes the messages and supports me in so many ways (like buying me musket powder for my stocking when she knew I was plum out!) We've been married so long we're on our second bottle of Tabasco sauce, but I couldn't do a thing without her support.Until the next time, shoot safe and have fun.

(c) 1992 by Tom Kelley
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