Historical Background & Shooting Today
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. Accuracy achieved with these rifles was formidable, one notable achievement being the Irish rifleman J.K.Milner's unprecedented 15 consecutive bulls-eyes at 1000 yards, fired at Creedmoor in the Centennial Match of 1876 using a Rigby muzzle loading match rifle.
Learn More: The Muzzle Loading Match Rifle in Great Britain
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 Long Range Rifles Branch of the MLAGB formed because of a shared interest in the sport and history and have a full programme of events, generally tied in with MLAGB events to often provide a full weekend (and longer) of shooting.
Learn more: Long Range Muzzle Loading in Great Britain
The World Governing body for muzzle loading shooting is the Muzzle Loaders Associations International Confederation (MLAIC), who in 1999 introduced long range World Championships to their competition programme. Sports governing bodies and national associations provide opportunities to compete and may be able to provide club contacts at local levels.
Learn more: Long Range Muzzle Loading Worldwide
Choice of match rifle today will be that of a modern made reproduction, including custom built rifles, or an original rifle. Many competitions make no distinction between reproduction and original rifles, although in international events they are fired in their own classes. Nothing beats experience in the discipline of long range muzzle loading. Rifle, equipment and to an extent the shooter can be tuned for optimum performance at shorter ranges, and the mid-range shooting of 200 to 600 yards offers valuable opportunity to learn. At longer distances the shooter really needs to get to the range and start to learn the effects that changing wind and atmospheric conditions have on the flight of the bullet. It is a challenging discipline but ultimately rewarding and the thrill of seeing the target drop below the mantlet at 1000 yards and reappear with a V-bull scored really has to be felt!
Learn more: Rifles & Equipment
In the UK for many years the MLAGB have included within their calendar of events National Rifle Championship matches at 200, 300, 500 and 600 yards for Enfield rifles, the service arm of the British soldier in the mid-19th Century. The Long Range Rifles Branch of the MLAGB also includes within their competitions the Asquith Cup match, an aggregate fired at 600 and 800 yards with .577 military percussion rifles.
Learn more: Long Range Shooting with the Military Muzzle Loading Rifle
Branch competitions are generally held at the National Rifle Association (NRA) ranges at Bisley, Surrey. The first NRA Annual Rifle Meeting was held on Wimbledon Common in 1860, where it remained for nearly 30 years. By 1887 Wimbledon was a rapidly growing suburban neighbourhood. Residents were disturbed by the crowds from London, and were upset at having their rights of access to the Common curtailed. The NRA were forced move their rifle meeting and examined a number of possible sites. Finally, in February 1889 the NRA Council met and voted in favour of Bisley as the site for their new ranges.
Learn more: Bisley Camp: a brief history
There aren't many internet resources that deal with long range muzzle loading, however readers will find the following helpful:
- Research Press - Long range target shooting with muzzle loading rifles and black powder cartridge rifles. History and shooting today.
- Long Range Black Powder Rifle Target Shooting - facebook group. Long range target shooting with the percussion muzzle loading rifle and black powder cartridge rifle. Historical study and shooting today. 19th Century competition at Wimbledon, Creedmoor and Dollymount. The rifles, ammunition and equipment, riflemen and gunmakers.
- Muzzle Loading Match Rifles - A facebook group for dicussion of muzzle loading match rifle of the type used between 1820-1900. Light or heavy, large or small. Old or new, as long as they conform to the spirit of those made and used between 1820-1900. New-made slug and picket rifles are allowed
- vring blog documents the authors journey through LRML. Training, tuning and technique are covered, along with match reports.