Who we are
Blackpowder shooting is not a sport. It is much more than that. Putting all your bullets into the center of the target requires special skills, skills a modern time sport-shooter would never require. The first and most important challenge of the blackpowder shooter is to learn and understand history. The firearms we use were designed centuries ago by tough men in tough times. They knew how to hold each and every component of shooting the pistol or rifle in the hand to have an accurate hit. In those times accurate shooting was not a free-time leisure activity like today, it was part of every day life. It meant life or death. The shooters prepared for war and hunting with target shooting matches. These matches were organized in Europe well before the era of firearms. This is considered the closest origin of modern time blackpowder target shooting competitions.
Second the blackpowder shooter must acquire some important technical skills. He must become a master of the service, maintenance and sometimes repair of his/her blackpowder arm. Understanding the working principle and technical parameters of the muzzleloading gun is the key in finding the accurate load.
And third he or she is an active sport-shooter for sure, but not with today’s professional shooters’ success-driven mind. The blackpowder shooter never earns money by winning a medal nor he/she will do anything illegal like doping to reach the highest peak of the podium. We share values that originated in the time of chivalry and much better morals than today. The values of blackpowder target shooting are based on rich culture ranging from the hunters of old times through the strict rules of army officers, ending with the codex of dueling.
All blackpowder shooters are a combination of these three elements. The mixing ratio can vary but we all share these values for sure. And we are lucky because there is no other shooting sport on Earth with such a huge cultural value behind it.
The start of the modern time phenomenon
In some countries the muzleloading guns never disappeared from active usage. I have some original catalogues from the early 20th century offering a wide range of muzzleloading accessories and firearms for target shooters and hunters. But blackpowder shooting as a modern time phenomenon originated in the United States. The person behind the project was Val Forgett. He was an entrepreneur and accepted a job to clear the Bannerman Island Arsenal on the Hudson river of explosive military items left there at the end of the 19th century.
His own business, Service Armament signed the contract. And while cleaning the whole island he purchased all the old arms left there by the Bannermann’s company, surplus military items trader of goods captured from Spain. Forgett built a nice collection of artillery pieces and shells from the civil war.
The project of replica blackpowder firearms started in 1956 when businessmen met in Alexandria, Virginia to discuss the possibility of manufactuiring 1851 Colt Navy revolvers abroad. This was the unofficial start of the Navy Arms company, that later became the driving force behind blackpowder shooting sports.
The first 1851 Navies were manufactured by a Brescian gunmaker, Vittorio Gregorelli, who was a subcontractor of Beretta. Forgett shipped an original Navy to him for copying, and Gregorelli soon produced sixteen prototypes: ten steel frame navies, and six brass frame, round barrel Griswold & Gunnison revolvers. The first batch was not perfect.
After a few modifications the 1851 Colt Navy finally hit the market in 1958 with Navy Arms Co. script on the barrel. It immediately became a success and it was soon followed by the first blackpowder rifle, the Remington Zouave.
This was the start… the first Italian companies taking part in manufacturing these guns and accessories for Navy Arms were Uberti and Pedersoli.
The international organization of blackpowder target shooting was founded in 1971. The objectives of the Muzzle Loaders Associations International Committee (MLAIC) are:
a) To promote an interest in historical muzzle loading firearms by competing with them in their unaltered state and to encourage research into the history of such arms and their use.
b) To administer, promote, foster, encourage and arrange facilities for the sport.
c) To arrange competitions and matches.
d) To arrange for, grant and contribute towards the provision of trophies, records, awards and distinctions.
e) The procurement and provision of amenities and other conveniences considered necessary for fulfilling the objectives of the MLAIC.
f) The making and enforcement of rules and regulations to implement and to prescribe procedures to achieve the objectives of the MLAIC.
The organization has 27 members and 2 correspondent nations. MLAIC organizes the World Championships of muzzleloading biennially and in the gaps between two World Champs the Zone Championships (European, Pacific Championships)
The arms we use
We use muzzleloading replica and original firearms at our competitions. Each type of firearms has its own category so a flintlock smoothbore musket will not compete against a rifled percussion rifle. Civilian and military arms are separated as well. The shooting distance is 25 or 50 m for handguns and 50 – 1100 m for rifles.
MLAIC also offers clay target shooting events for muzzleloading shotguns. Flintlock and percussion arm compete in separate classes here as well.