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WELCOME TO THE WORLD OF MUZZLE LOADING
Just what is muzzle loading?

It's the process of loading a firearm from the muzzle.  (The front end of a barrel where the projectile exits.)

Why use one of them when there are so many modern cartridge firearms?

No real reason, except for personal preference.  Many persons like the challenge of being proficient knowing that the first shot is the only one that counts, or just the romance of days gone by steeped in tradition.  You may never know unless you try it yourself.

Who started it all?

Historians may disagree, but is generally accepted that with the invention of black powder in China around the 10th century, the use of it in a firearm by Arabs in the 1300's , and finding its way to Europe in the 1400's, muzzle loading with black powder was the mainstay of armies and pioneers until the 1860s when the more stable smokeless powders were being introduced.  The basic makeup of black powder is the same today as it was when the Chinese first used in fireworks.

Can you tell me more?

Don't just run out to a gun shop and by a rifle or pistol because you saw an ad and or a friend has a particular model.  You can contact a shooting club, sporting goods store and I highly recommend a State's Division of Wildlife if they offer a hunter safety course for muzzle loading.  Most gun clubs have persons involved in muzzle loading and are more than glad to instruct a person interested in the sport and can expose you to a variety of different styles and models.  Making sure that the firearm fits you will only enhance your enjoyment of this sporting challenge.  By contacting your State Division of Wildlife Management, if they have a safety course available, may also have different muzzle loaders to try, and also update you on the laws of the particular state along with the safe and responsible handling of a muzzle loader.