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Great!  You asked questions, attended classes, and you're ready to purchase a muzzle loader.  By this stage of your interest in the sport, you've decided on what activity you are primarily interested in.  Target shooting?  Hunting?  Or just a knowledge of heritage to hang over a mantle?

Muzzle loaders are as varied today as their modern counterparts with barrel lengths, rifling, and types of sites.  These are questions that you still have to decide on to suit the type of activity you will participate in.  Keep asking questions if you are not sure.  Remember, "TREAT EVERY GUN AS IF IT WERE LOADED", just because it's an older form a firearm, if misused, it can be deadly!

You've made your purchase, and you're ready to go.  Right?

Wrong answer.  Every manufacturer provides information booklet with each firearm they sell.  Take time to read these instructions carefully, and get to know the workings of your muzzle loader, and follow the recommended safety and loading procedures when you're at the range.

For those of you who may have had a muzzle loader handed down to you from dear old Uncle Zeek, you still should get to know all there is about your firearm.  It's not bad idea to have it first check out by a qualified gunsmith to ensure that it is safe to operate.

Along with the purchase of your muzzle loader, you'll need other basic equipment to get started, if a starter package was not part of your gun purchase.
     1) Powder Measure
     2) Ball Starter
     3) Nipple Wrench
     4) Proper Size Caps (flints for a Flint lock)
     5) Proper Grain Powder (flintlocks also need "FFFF" frizzen powder to prime the flash pan ONLY)
     6) Range Rod
     7) Type of Shot
     8) Proper Thickness Patches and Lube

Old Swamp Hunter Co has a variety of premium lubricants and bore cleaner to get you started with an effective shooting and gun maintenance program.

What type of shot do you want to use?

The most common is the patched round ball for rifle.  It is also the most economical for sighting in, and powder charge.  Maxi-ball, and conical bullets are very popular for hunting, but the expense of shooting these for sighting in and becoming familiar with your rifle can be rather high.  Keep in mind though, if you're going to shoot Maxi-ball or other conical bullets for hunting or whatever, you still have to go through the same process has round ball to develop a proper load.  Pistols take round ball in most cases.  There are exceptions to this, and it is best to refer to the manufactures booklet for exact information.