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Author Topic: Black Powder/Cap and Ball-Friendly Ranges  (Read 175 times)

Offline Ambaryerno

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Black Powder/Cap and Ball-Friendly Ranges
« on: January 02, 2021, 09:22:42 PM »
So I live in St. Peters, MO, and I'm having a small problem with finding a good place to shoot.

In the past I would just go to Busch Wildlife, but unfortunately the range there isn't great for black powder. The 15-minute shooting intervals don't give you much time for loading, (particularly with cap and ball) ESPECIALLY if you run into any sort of mechanical problem. I will also be teaching my nephew to shoot beginning this spring, which makes Busch's rigid timetable even less ideal because there's not a great deal of time for both instruction AND shooting. Even if I start him on my old CVA muzzleloader carbine (which would also give me a chance to shoot my dad's Hawken rifle).

Last weekened I checked out the unstaffed range at Reifsnider State Forest to give that a try. I arrived around 9:30 in the morning. At that time, it was just me and two other stations active. I certainly liked the freedom of being able to just set up and shoot at my leisure without having to worry about getting interrupted unless we all agreed to cease-fire. However with it being first-come first-served, you're at the mercy of the crowd. There's simply not a lot of stations, and the downside of no time limit is that you could be waiting forever for a turn at the bench (by the time I left, the line was queued all the way up the hill. And no social distancing, either :-P ).

There's also another big problem with ranges like these:

@$$HOLES WHO CAN'T FOLLOW THE RANGE RULES.

Despite the posted rules at the range being the same as any of the MDC staff ranges (limits to the number of people at the bench, no automatics, no rapid fire, magazine size limits, etc.) it was pretty much the Wild West while I was there:

The group next to me had a good half dozen or more people crowded into the bench. One of them was teaching his girlfriend or whoever, which ok, that's fine. But you don't need all ten of your other friends piled in there with you.

One guy came in (with his five year old kid!!!) and had something like a 50-round drum magazine. And he emptied the ENTIRE THING in about 20 seconds. Many other shooters were also ripping off as many shots as they could as fast as they could. I don't know if any of these were automatics, but they were sure shooting like they did (my guess: bump stocks). It's not just that rapid fire like that frankly just isn't safe. It's ANNOYING AS HELL to be trying to do my thing, when from the next stall over is Pow-Pow-Pow-Pow-Pow-Pow-Pow-Pow-Pow-Pow-Pow-Pow-Pow-Pow-Pow-Pow-Pow-Pow-Pow-Pow-Pow-Pow-Pow-Pow-Pow-Pow-Pow-Pow-Pow-Pow-Pow-Pow-Pow-Pow-Pow-Pow-Pow-Pow-Pow-Pow-Pow-Pow-Pow-Pow-Pow-Pow-Pow-Pow-Pow-Pow-Pow-Pow-Pow-Pow-Pow-Pow-Pow! It's a distraction, and makes it hard to get the rest of the range's attention in an emergency.

It's especially important to me that my nephew learn both proper gun safety and handling, AND good shooter etiquette. But I don't feel safe taking him to an unstaffed range with that kind of nonsense going on. And while I COULD use it as a teaching moment, ("See what they're doing? Don't do that.") personally I'd rather not have to deal with it in the first place as it's a needless distraction from keeping track of what he's doing. Especially since he has never fired ANY sort of gun, much less black powder.

I was wondering if any of you are in the St. Louis/St. Charles area and might know of a range nearby that might be a better choice. Somewhere that facilitates the slow loading times of muzzleloaders and cap and ball better than Busch or Henges, and where I'd be able to take the time to teach my nephew without having to worry about running out of our allotted time. But at the same time, somewhere I don't have to worry about idiots pretending they're Rambo and who act like the rules of the range don't apply to them.

I don't have a particular desire to join a club; I don't know if I'd be out there often enough for the yearly dues to make it worthwhile, or that my schedule would allow any sort of mandatory meeting/work/competition days.

Offline Powder Burn

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Re: Black Powder/Cap and Ball-Friendly Ranges
« Reply #1 on: January 03, 2021, 03:18:08 AM »
Unfortunately, there are clubs like that. I used to belong to one club , along with my Dad so that we could just go shoot or to fish in their lake. That cost us about a hundred bucks a year, a piece. The lake sucked for fishing as they had nothing but worm stealing bluegills about 3 inches long. Every time we showed up to shoot,we had to deal with some pretty rude people either interrupting our shooting with stupid questions like," what is that?" and standing over your shoulder waiting for the bench you just set up for shooting 10 minutes ago. I joined another club that I have been a member of for about 30 years now and everybody is very considerate of others while shooting and all seem to have common sense and a canning sense of what safety is as well as being patient of others while waiting. And they have big fish in the lake that I helped take care of and stock. However,I admit that I haven't been to that club for about 5 years but pay  dues of $20  a year and they are only 5 minutes away from me. I have my own place with 45 acres with a pond and good deer and turkey hunting surrounded by thousand of acres of fields and woods from adjoining neighbors and farm lands that I bough in 1984. I have my own rifle range and a shooting bench under roof in case it rains or snows and can shoot up to a hundred yards at that bench but then I have to go back to my hayfield to set up to shoot 400 yards if I so desire and some times my old Vietnam sniper days just work on me to where I have to go back there and see if the old guy still has it. I feel sorry that you can not enjoy the same as me but hang in there. I am sure you will find a place to enjoy your shooting. Sometimes all it takes is to make a friend that has property and do things that you both enjoy.

Offline ShotgunDave

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Re: Black Powder/Cap and Ball-Friendly Ranges
« Reply #2 on: January 03, 2021, 12:05:44 PM »
We have a similar situation out here in Kommiefornia. It's a 3 year wait to get into a club, and it's roughly $300 a year. The other alternative is public land (BLM) and you run into the same situation as you, dealing with idiots. The one place we have here, called Bee Canyon is public land accessed by a fire road. There are quite a few shooting lanes carved out of the hillsides, and you pretty much shoot in private. So the idiots don't bother you so much. The trouble is, they close it randomly throughout the year due to "fire hazard". It's closed right now in fact.

I joined a CAS club last year, just so I could enjoy shooting my black powder guns. It was really my only alternative. I didn't enjoy it as much as I thought I would, so I'm really not active anymore. But, you may look into a CAS club near you, and see if they let non-members come in on the off time and shoot. I know Missouri has quite a few CAS clubs. It's worth a look anyway.
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Offline Powder Burn

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Re: Black Powder/Cap and Ball-Friendly Ranges
« Reply #3 on: January 03, 2021, 04:25:58 PM »
I used to shoot SASS also and I shot on weekends by going to various clubs close by We didn't have to be a member at any of them, in fact, the days were set up to alternate the different clubs so we could have more member shooting the stages. It was fun, knowing you always had at least 4 clubs within short driving distance. At each event, the ladies brought out all the good food and so we ate good while they handed out our winning prizes. Sorry o say, out of about a hundred cowboys, I didn't know anybody that shot cap and ball. There usually wasn't enough time in between to wait on a cowboy to load them up. I know I couldn't have done it.

Offline ShotgunDave

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Re: Black Powder/Cap and Ball-Friendly Ranges
« Reply #4 on: January 03, 2021, 04:30:30 PM »
Yeah that was one of the problems. Guys (and Gals) getting cranky because you aren't loading fast enough. It kinda sucked. One of several reasons I quit CAS/SASS.
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Offline Navy Six

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Re: Black Powder/Cap and Ball-Friendly Ranges
« Reply #5 on: January 07, 2021, 08:02:07 AM »
Being able to load quicker is one of the reasons I started making paper cartridges for Cowboy matches. On top of faster loading, the paper cartridges are just one less thing to keep track of. Most of the time I shoot black powder in the cartridge guns, but the cap & ball guns need a workout as well. Fortunately, the SASS club I frequent the most is understanding of my traditionalist approach.
As far as ranges in general, if outdoors there are no restrictions. However, none of the indoor ranges near me allow any type of black powder use.
Only Blackpowder is interesting.
"I'm the richest man in the world. I have a good wife, a good dog and a good sixgun". Charles A "Skeeter" Skelton

Offline mazo kid

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Re: Black Powder/Cap and Ball-Friendly Ranges
« Reply #6 on: January 14, 2021, 03:21:06 PM »
I don't belong to a shooting club; the closest one to me has a waiting list. There is a public open air range 45 minutes away that is quite nice and usually not crowded at all. We typically shoot C&B revolvers, BPCR and modern stuff. I know this doesn't help your situation.
« Last Edit: January 14, 2021, 03:22:45 PM by mazo kid »