Autumn News

The North-South Skirmish Association held their 100th National Skirmish at the friendly confines of Fort Shenandoah near Winchester, VA from September 30 to October 4 and this milestone event was blessed with perfect skirmishing weather. The 100th Skirmish also introduced several changes in the routine of a National Skirmish; some were welcomed and some were not.

There were no Individual Match targets allowed to be shot on Saturday morning at the 100th National, which meant members interested in that competition had to complete their targets sometime Friday or not participate. According to a letter sent by the National Commander, Gary Crawford, to interested parties, the growth of Carbine Team competition can be expected to result in two phases of Carbine Team Matches on Saturday mornings at future National Skirmishes, much like Sunday Musket competitions. This expansion of the team schedule will result in no Individual competition time on Saturday mornings at future Nationals.

The 100th National also saw the return of the Blue-Gray Ball on Friday evening in the Barn at Fort Shenandoah. The barn was full of period dressed members and guests dancing and enjoying the authentic music. The Ball seemed to be a welcomed return to the schedule, and it is hoped that future Nationals will include this once standard feature again.

The Grand Review went off without a hitch on Saturday Morning, and this writer couldn't find one participant or witness who did not enjoy the experience greatly.

With schedules at the National becoming more and more crowded, one has to wonder what the 150th or 200th National schedule will look like. If the schedule is going to stay wide open for every team that can pay the entrance fee to participate, then I wonder if the change to Monday-holiday weekends first proposed in this column is not the direction for future National schedules. The Carbine Matches could be moved to Mondays, and Saturday mornings and early afternoons once again reserved for Individual target shooting. It just doesn't seem fair to penalize people who can't get off from work to shoot Individuals on Thursday or Friday of a National weekend, when if we moved our Nationals each back one weekend we would gain a whole day for our schedule.

Once again, Sutlers Row was overflowing with peddlers of every type of skirmishing component, and I enjoyed a leisurely stroll or two through that area at the 100th. I stopped by Tom Ball's Ball Accuracy shope and had my .45 Vaqueros coned by Tom. Tom can cut a cone on any .45 revolver, and my Remington and Rogers & Spencer both improved so much from the operation that I decided to ameliorate my Cowboy pistols as well. I highly recommend the procedure for any blackpowder pistol, and at only $15.00 per pistol, it is one of the least expensive improvements you can make to your hogleg. You can send the pistols to Tom, or he can perform the simple procedure at his booth at a National Skirmish. You may contact Tom Ball at RR#1, Box 241, Millville, PA 17846 (570-458- 5197) or

Skirmishers who register their motor vehicles in Maryland now have an N-SSA license plate available from Maryland's Motor Vehicle Administration. The plate features the N-SSA logo on the left side and a 3-digit number on the right superseded by a "N" over "S" alpha recognition device. I got mine just before departing for the National, and the plate turned several heads in camp. The Law brothers of the 3rd Ala. Vol. Inf. stopped by and asked about the plates, as did many others.

Ray Bealding of Capt. Simm's Marines coordinated the effort for the N-SSA, and did a great job handling the process. Do get the plates, you need to obtain a special plate request form from MVA and get it endorsed by the N-SSA, then send in a check for $25.00 and wait. Contact Ray at for more information.

It wasn't a shock, given the present state of affairs, but it is still sad to hear that Colt will cease civilian sales before the end of October 1999. It would appear at this writing that Colt will continue to engage in military sales and the sales of "collectibles", which this author interprets as continuing in the lucrative sale of second and third generation Colts, including cap 'n ball revolvers. This move will result in more than 300 Colt workers losing their jobs, but I guess Sarah Brady has all the income she needs and doesn't have to worry about Colt workers.

In a related story, United Parcel Service announced during National Skirmish weekend that they will no longer ship handguns via ground freight, but must require all handguns to be shipped by Next-Day-Air service in order to adequately provide security for the weapons. It seems that employee theft had become a big issue, and UPS was concerned about liability should a UPS stolen gun be used in the commission of a crime. A well-known gunsmith related a story on an Internet bulletin-board that he had shipped guns UPS Ground for 20 years, and until this year had never lost one (in the Chicago UPS facility). Gunsmiths and gun shops really put the heat on UPS, and as of this writing the UPS policy appears to apply only to modern weapons, with pre-1989 reproductions and originals exempt from the new policy. However, it is obvious that UPS is sensitive to the anti-gun rhetoric, and also wishy-washy on implementing the new procedures, so keep your ears and eyes open.

As has been illuded to in previous columns this year, gun ownership is under attack. Gun laws on the books don't satisfy the Clinton-Gore-Reno team, and while they refuse to enforce existing gun laws, they are actively looking for ways to disarm the public. It isn't just about assault weapons and fully automatic pistols. It's about the Second Amendment (Of course, you can't really expect someone who can't abide by ten commandments to faithfully protect and defend more than twice that many amendments, can you.). People are starting to develop a defensive, siege mentality about gun owners rights.

The "Alamo" mentality is beginning to pervade our own merchants, and was even in existence at Fort Shenandoah at the Navy Arms booth during the 100th National. One of my teammates asked me to accompany him to help select a Henry for N-SSA competitions. After we selected a nice .45 LC brass frame Henry, he was told he couldn't purchase it because the transfer would have to be completed through a qualified FFL holder! We were informed that the Henry was now considered a "modern" firearm because it is proofed with smokeless loads in Italy. Man, was I shocked. After years and years of selling them to N-SSA shooters over the counter, and countless hundreds sold, the Henry was no longer available at the manufacturers booth at Ft. Shenandoah.

So, you see, the shooting sports are under attack, and our litigious society has manufacturers running scared. Get your Henry while ya can, man. Stock up on cap'n ball pistols as well, I suppose. What next? Sharp's Rifles? Smith Carbines? Certainly, every shooter needs to become politically active in his or her own community and exercise their rights to vote and support political candidates favorable of the shooting sports.

Unless we speak and act favorably towards gun ownership, the anti's will eventually prevail. I again encourage all readers to actively and vocally promote responsible gun ownership, shoot safe and have fun.

1999 by Tom Kelley

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