In the evolution of firearms the change from muzzleloaded guns to cartridges where spark, charge and projectile were contained in a single unit, in a bullet, was a future attractor so powerful that it shaped civilization. Before the bullet, there were muzzleloaders and there still are.
At the Carberry Heritage Festival I had the pleasure of meeting Chuck Vidnes and Arthur Ingram, members of the Manitoba Muzzleloaders Association. The display of their long guns was a festival highlight. At the top of every hour they fired off two rounds which echoed down the main drag, startling everyone a little and drawing attention.
The guns they fired were both muzzleloaders, Chuck’s is a flintlock and Arthur’s is a percussion, both reproductions of earlier weapons. At the 3:00 firing Chuck explained how his gun is loaded and fired as I recorded him. Click any of the pictures to watch the 2:42 video. Arthur’s gun was a later development in muzzleloaders. It used a cap over a nipple which when struck set off the charge, rather like a cap gun.
I asked Chuck how many members the club has and how many are female. “We are a limited club with 60 memberships. Some are family memberships which means spouses and children so there are actually quite a few more than 60 persons,” says Chuck. “I don’t know how many are female but quite a few, maybe 30% or more are actively involved with the club and shoot on a regular basis. Our club is an associate club within the Manitoba Wildlife Federation and a member of Canada’s National Firearms Association. We are an incorporated club and our official name is Manitoba Muzzleloaders Brandon Chapter Inc.”
Both Chuck and Art, who live in the Carberry area, said they’ve had an interest in guns from an early age and enjoy the camaraderie that comes with specialty guns like muzzleloaders. They use the guns for target shooting – there is a shooting range near Carberry – as well as hunting and demonstrations. Their black powder club meets regularly, often drawing 30 participants to a shoot.
Watch a demonstration of how to load and fire a muzzleloader.
I thank Chuck and Art for sharing their knowledge and enthusiasm with me.