Batesville Herald Tribune, Batesville, Indiana

September 6, 2013

Early American muzzleloading puts Friendship on the map


The Batesville Herald-Tribune

---- — The National Muzzle Loading Rifle Association Fall National Championship Shoot, Friendship, celebrating the muzzleloading sports and its early American heritage, takes place Sept. 14-21.

Attendees can watch black powder shooting competitions and take in the “living arts” historical crafts demonstrations featured in the Living History Center while strolling among the beautiful autumn colors of the rural Indiana countryside.

The Living History Center serves as a reminder of the importance of the historical heritage behind the sport of muzzleloading. Traditional craft demonstrations include woodworking, leatherworking, weaving and soapmaking. Youth activities include butter churning, bead stringing, an archaeology class and candle dipping.

The Living Arts program will be sponsoring many traditional craft classes and activities. Interested persons can learn how to tan a deerskin, discover the delicate art of scrimshaw or hear the history of the American “Cow Boy Girl!” Special activities are planned for children, including a class where they can play with Lincoln log-style kits and get to make and take home their very own forts. Children also can have fun hearing about the 18th century fur trade while they trade for trinkets, and learn some French words and American Indian sign language! A schedule can be found at http://nmlra.org, click on Education, then NMLRA educational classes.

At the museum, which is open 11 a.m.-2 p.m., NMLRA is partnering with Tom and Carol Schiffer of the Annie Oakley Foundation to host an exhibit on the sharpshooter. The display will include many different guns of the era and type that Oakley was known to have used in her Wild West show days and as an outstanding competitor. Complementing the exhibit will be a display of period sidesaddles on loan from the Tippecanoe County Historical Association, Lafayette; a case of prize-winning model horses; and even a stick pony race for children.

What are Oakley’s connections to NMLRA? She died in 1926 and NMLRA did not organize until 1933. However, she was exhibiting in the “off season” in Dayton, Ohio, shooting at an indoor arena there. A young man named Walter Keenan was a protégé of Rollo Hikes, a famous and skillful trap shooter of that day. Hikes backed Keenan in a $100 bet that Keenan could best Oakley over the tricky course laid out in the arena and he did. Gracious in defeat, she gave Keenan one of Sitting Bull’s arrows from her collection. Keenan became one of NMLRA’s early directors.

National-class competitive muzzleloading shooting is a strong focus of this gathering. There are so many matches that there is truly something for shooters of all skill levels, and with all types of muzzleloading equipment. A special feature of the competition area is the youth range, developed by NMLRA as a way to safely teach children how to shoot muzzleloading firearms and get them involved and engaged in the sport at a young age.

The event’s GPS address is 6219 S. State Road 62, Friendship. Handicap parking is available. Gate hours are 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Admission is charged for visitors 18 and up, and a portion of the parking fee benefits the local American Legion.

More information on the national championship shoot is available at 800-745-1493 or www.nmlra.org.