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Firearms, Long Range Target Shooting & Associated History

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“Of all our national pastimes, this is one which should be pursued for the sake only of the honourable distinction to be obtained, in excelling in an art, where both mental and physical gifts are developed.”

Anonymous author on match rifle shooting (1866)

Research Press

Long Range Muzzle Loading

Long range target shooting with the muzzle loading rifle offers the discerning rifleman opportunity to participate in a challenging and ultimately very rewarding discipline. The sport is rich in heritage and the origins of many of todays national shooting associations stem from the muzzle loading era.

The following articles credited to Bill Roberts are reprinted (with permission) from “Long Range Black Powder Shooting” – William A. Roberts, Jr. Muzzle Blasts, USA, November 1999, December 1999, January 2000.

Further reading:

Long Range Muzzle Loading

Wimbledon

The hey-day of the muzzle loading era for rifle marksmen in Great Britain was the first two decades of the National Rifle Association's (NRA) existence; broadly 1860-1880. Today, two national associations within the UK cater for the discipline of long range muzzle loading, namely the Muzzle Loaders Association of Great Britain (MLAGB) and the National Rifle Association (NRA). The World Governing body for muzzle loading shooting is the Muzzle Loaders Associations International Committee (MLAIC), who in 1999 introduced long range World Championships to their competition programme.

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The Muzzle Loading Match Rifle in Great Britain

Rigby match rifle

The hey-day of the muzzle loading era for rifle marksmen in Great Britain was the first two decades of the National Rifle Association's (NRA) existence; broadly 1860-1880. Target rifle competition was held at distances out to 1,000 yards (sometimes further) in local, national and international events. 

Read more: The Muzzle Loading Match Rifle in Great Britain

Long Range Shooting with the Military Muzzle Loading Rifle

Enfield rifles

The military muzzle loading rifle (MMLR) may not be the first rifle that springs to mind for long range shooting, yet within Great Britain its use goes back to the origins of the National Rifle Association. The Volunteer Movement established in Great Britain in 1859 was the catalyst for a great interest in rifle shooting and marksmanship skills. Significant factors in maintaining this interest were the formation of the National Rifle Association (NRA) late in 1859 and the sponsorship by Queen Victoria of a competition in the NRA Annual Rifle meeting first held in 1860.

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A Beginner’s Perspective

The beginning long-range muzzle loader shooter will soon learn that the single most important element in obtaining accuracy is consistency. If everything is the same with every shot there is no reason that all rounds should not go through the same hole. Of course this is humanly, mechanically, and meteorologically impossible, but the shooter can try his or her best to achieve the ideal. The most successful marksmen can replicate shot-to-shot conditions very closely, and their scores are proof that consistency works.

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Bullets & Wads

Bullets used are either groove-lubricated or paper patched lead or lead alloy projectiles. They may be cast and directly used, or if paper patched, may be cast as slugs and then put into a hammer or press swage for final shaping. A muzzle-loaded bullet of lesser diameter than the bore is susceptible to gas leakage when fired. To help assure that gas does not pass between the side of the bullet and the bore, a sealing wad is sometimes used.

Read more: Bullets & Wads