The Ottumwa Courier

Local News

March 5, 2014

Every shot precious

OTTUMWA — Muzzleloaders, like those used by the great-grandparents of our great-grandparents, are slow to load, require practice to handle correctly and are harder to find than modern guns.

“Some shooters wouldn’t have it any other way,” said Howard Haynes of Muscatine, who was in Ottumwa recently for a gun show. “There are guys who love muzzleloaders, and that’s all they shoot.”

Wayne Veach of Centerville said that tends to be the case even with “modern” muzzleloader enthusiasts. Though those firearms, he said at the same gun show, are much different than the historically accurate guns Haynes enjoys.

“They have found a very receptive audience when modern muzzle-loaders became legal for deer [season],” he said.

It’s not that modern muzzleloaders are more powerful; an old .50 caliber rifle can take down any game animal in North America, one visitor said. But, said Haynes, the “new” guns are different. And those are more a specialty for Veach.

“The development of old muzzle-loaders to these modern muzzle-loaders,” said Veach, pointing out his display, “is like the development from the Model T Ford to a 2014 car. That’s just my opinion.”

That may be true, but Haynes loves his historic guns. Besides the nostalgia of using the same type of firearm Davey Crockett used, there’s far more care involved.

Today, a 10-shot .22 rifle will fire as fast as the user can pull the trigger. Some owners will shoot cans, dead branches ... it doesn’t matter, they’ll have another shot. Not so with a gun made to imitate the tool used by early American pioneers.

“This is part of history,” said Haynes, holding a gun about as long as he was tall. “There are people who like the nostalgia of hunting with a muzzle-loader.”

Depending on what part of history is being represented, the process is fairly involved. And shooters like that, especially those interested in historically accurate reproductions.

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