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Time was, when guys got together and talked hunting and the virtues of black powder guns, I headed for the forest myself. To do something equally exciting, like watching trees grow.
But on Friday, Joe took me to the range to let me shoot a .44-caliber Kentucky Pistol. This thing is ultra cool!
The pistol is more than a foot long. The smooth thick walnut stock goes all the way to the end of the heavy octagon barrel. It’s a handful of beauty.
In preparing to shoot, you place your index finger over the tube end of a powder flask. You flip the flask upside down and you turn a lever to release 30 grains of black Pyrodex powder. Then you turn the flask right side up again.
Tilting the gun away from you (of course), take your finger off the tube top and carefully tip the powder into the barrel of the pistol.
The powder is the “charge.” Now it’s time for the lead bullet ball.
Place a coated round patch over the end of the barrel. Center the ball on the patch.
Using a ball seater, push the ball into the barrel. Then, using a ramrod, shove the bullet all the way down the barrel until it pushes against the charge you just put in.
Now that the charge and the bullet are in place, you need a primer to set the gun off.
First, half cock the pistol.
Take a percussion or primer cap and fit it over the nipple located on the side above the trigger.
You’re good to go.
Okay. The gun is thick and longer than any pistol I’d ever shot.
“How do you hold it?” I ask Joe.
“Any way you can!” he replies.
I grab the stock with my left hand. Grip with the right. It’s a big gun. So I close my eyes. So what?
Hardly any kick.
And how’d I hit the target, looking at the inside of my lids?
“Can we do it again?” I ask Joe. Heck, I might even hit the bull’s eye if my eyes are open.
Powder power is here to stay.
Marj Law is the former director of Keep Wakulla County Beautiful and enjoys spending her retirement on the shooting range.