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Shootin' The Breeze

If you like shooting the traditional American rifles which were around in the last quarter of the 19th Century and you relish the prospect of shooting some challenging, fun disciplines, then you should feel 'right at home' with us. A perusal of our past newsletters, called Black Thunder, will give you a "taster", as well as containing interesting articles on various aspects of shooting Black Powder cartridge rifles. Black Thunder was our main means of communication to members before the website came on line.

The 40-shot Silhouette Shoots which we hold in the Spring and Autumn comprise 4 different targets (2 at 300 yards and 2 at 500 yards). This is based on the U.S. N.R.A. Silhouette which really took off in the 1980s. It takes its roots, so it is said, from the early practice among ranchers in Mexico and some of the southern desert States, to tether animals, intended for the barbecue, out in the desert where they were then shot from a distance, prior to cooking! The sport now consists of shooting at banks of iron silhouettes of chickens at 200m, javelinas (pigs) at 300m, turkeys at 385m and rams at 500m. The chickens are shot offhand, the others from crossed sticks. The targets are similar to those used in the U.S. except that ours are paper and not iron plate. The sizes have been kept in proportion to the slightly different distances at which we shoot. This is definitely a challenging and fun shoot which is not to be missed.

A more 'historic' form of BPCR shooting originated in the last quarter of the 19th century and this is the Creedmoor. This was probably the ultimate test for these rifles with International long-range competitions heavily attended by shooters and spectators alike. The events were often reported, with great enthusiasm, in the newspapers of the day. Oh for a return to those attitudes towards our sport by the media.

The Buffalo Shoot is always a popular event, featuring 2 distances, 200 yards and 600 yards in an effort to replicate the type of shooting experienced by the buffalo runners of a bygone age.

Sadly all of these disciplines are, or were, shot on metal targets on ranges less strictly regimented than here in the UK. We are not able to enjoy the same shooting freedoms over here so, with a little imagination, our shoots have been designed to give a realistic flavour of the original. All practices and friendly competitions are shot on paper targets. Some, such as the silhouette and Creedmoor have a simple hit or miss scoring method whereas the Buffalo target has scoring zones which are anatomically correct, in fact they were laid out for us by a 6th. generation Wyoming shooter whose Great Grandfather helped decimate the Great Northern Herd! The scoring zones details of this and other shoots are on this web site for your information. Study the targets well!

Practice days at 200/600 yards, 300/500 yards and 900/1000 yards will give you the opportunity to test loads and obtain sight settings for the various distances.

The original ideas that formed the foundations for the Club did not include creating a large and impersonal organisation. In fact, quite the opposite is true. It is hoped that you will find that the Club generates a friendly, competitive atmosphere and attracts like-minded shooters. There is no pressure for anyone to engage in 'heavy' competition, at any distance, if that's not what turns you on! In fact 'pot-hunters' are sorely disappointed. Members are encouraged to ask for advice if they are new to this very satisfying type of shooting. The more experienced members readily share some of their secrets to help those who are new to the game. It's always good to pick up new lube recipes to concoct in the kitchen during the week and experiment with on the range at weekends! It's just one of the things that makes it all so intriguing.

In brief, these are some of the few basic rules. Rifles should be single-shot of the military or hunting-style cartridge type of the American era prior to 1896. They should have external hammers and the calibre should fall between .38 and .58. Lead bullets, no gas-checks. In the interest of authenticity, lever action rifles of pre-1896 design such as the Henry or Winchester '66, '73, '76 and '86 in original calibres are allowed in some competitions. In all cases rear sights can be vernier or the ladder type, typical of the period and either open or peep. If someone has an original or repro 19th. Century telescopic sight then they may shoot in their own class. No modern style glass or tube sights are permitted. No distinction is made between original and reproduction. If you have an original rifle, beware, someone is bound to offer to buy it from you!

Most shooting is done in the prone position from crossed sticks and these usually take the form of two pieces of wood. i.e. 2" x 1" or broomstick bolted together in an X shape. Since the aim of the Club is to keep things, as far as possible, in the spirit of the original, rifles are restricted to shooting Black Powder. If you have only loaded with smokeless up until now, give it a try. The satisfaction of reloading and shooting Black Powder and knowing that you are using the ammunition which the designer intended for your rifle, is well worth the effort. A licence to acquire and keep Black Powder is free from your usual Police licensing authority. The Health & Safety Executive RCA document to transport powder is also free.

One of the trickier jobs for clubs when booking a range is to make it sensibly priced for each shooter. Since our Club is non-profit making, and seeks only to have fun, compete in friendly competition and shoot for a reasonable cost, lanes will have to be pre booked. As with most clubs, all this means is that you send in your cheque with the shoot entry form. The membership fees have been kept at a level that will cover the cost of our affiliation to The National Rifle Association and insurance for the Club.  We shoot all of our comps at Bisley and encourage our members to become members of the NRA and support the future of shooting at Bisley.

You may be wondering about the Club name? Well, "The Single Shot Black Powder Cartridge Rifle Club of Great Britain" is rather a mouthful, however it accurately describes the original concept for the Club and what we are about. Both the NRA and our bank know us also as "SSBPCRCofGB". You may find this a useful abbreviation when writing cheques! Enough said!