Open Muzzle Loading Match

The Griffin Long Rifles, under the sponsorship of the Griffin Gun Club, offers muzzle loading matches that are open to anyone.  The shooter only has to have access to a muzzle loading rifle or pistol with the appropriate ammunition components and accessories to participate in the matches.  The Griffin Long Rifles offer matches from January through September on the first Sunday of the month unless there is a conflict with major matches.  Please check the Griffin Gun Club Calendar for updates. The Griffin Gun Club is a membership club that offers many different matches for non-members.

How to Start Shooting in Muzzle Loading Matches

  • The following guidelines will get you started at Griffin or most muzzle loading matches across the U. S.  The muzzle loading fraternity is generally a gregarious bunch who welcome new shooters of all ages, genders and levels of expertise.  At Griffin, and other clubs, you are welcome to come watch, talk, ask questions and when you are comfortable- take part.  When you reach the range, don your ear muffs or ear plugs if the range is “hot”.  If you plan on shooting on your first visit locate the sign-up sheet and pay your entry fee and meet a bunch of nice folks.  Fees vary, but at Griffin it is $15 for rifle matches and $5 for pistol matches.
  • Most matches are shot with patched round ball, offhand, with iron sights.  Some rifled musket shooters do shoot lead conical bullets.
  • The shooter is given the targets for the match and a competitor number is written on each target.  Targets can be round bulls or representations of animals, bottles, feathers or any shape that can offer competition or entertainment.
  • Muzzle loading matches are designed for the safety of the shooters.  There is no smoking near the loading area or on the firing line.  The loading bench is at the back of the shooters for an extra level of protection because black powder is an explosive as opposed to modern propellants.  Some shooters do use black powder substitutes.  Ear and eye protection are required for individual safety when dealing with percussion caps and flintlocks.
  • All muzzle loading matches require that the shooter use a separate powder measure to transfer the powder from powder horn or can.  The horn or can is then closed or capped to prevent a possible accidental explosion. The sporting arm is then carefully loaded.
  • Most target shooters use the lowest charge of powder that will group well.  This is a safety, noise and economic factor.
  • If you are a new shooter there will always be someone to help you get started with safe loading practices.
  • The shooter then proceeds to the firing line with the muzzle pointed up– and then and only then– is the sporting arm capped or primed with the shooter addressing the target.
  • Loading, cleaning or handling takes place when the range is declared “Hot” or “Open”.
  • Upon the command “Cease Fire” all firing stops.  There will then be a call asking, “Are there any hot ones?”  If any shooters indicate they have loaded or partially loaded sporting arms the range officer will call for the shooter to complete loading then the sporting arms are discharged.  Only then will the range office call the range “Cold” so the shooters can retrieve and change targets.
  • There will be absolutely no handling of sporting arms when anyone is down range and before the range is declared “Hot” or “Open.”
  • Most relays are 20 to 30 minutes with 20 minutes being the norm for monthly matches and 30 minutes for matches such as state championships or National Muzzle Loading Rifle Association sponsored Territorial Matches or NMLRA National Championships. The latter type matches are the only matches that require memberships in the NMLRA.
  • Normally good manners demand that you do not approach the line when an adjacent shooter is in the process of firing or aiming.  The 20-30 minute time limit for 5 shots allows this courtesy. This is also a safety feature because percussion caps are frangible and the touch hole on flintlocks does discharge burned powder and flame.
  • When all target are turned in the scores are tallied and prizes are awarded. Prizes vary from cash, gift cards or frozen meat. Championships and Territorials offer medals, trophies and plaques.
  • The generous time limits allow for interaction during matches generally with shooters gathering behind the loading bench.  For new shooters this is a good time for questions from the experts.