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Archive for April 2013

Short Shots No. 2, “Buying Used Muzzleloading Guns” now available

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A selection of modern percussion revolvers from .22 to .44-caliber was available to illustrate a reasonable range of guns.

A selection of modern percussion revolvers from .22 to .44-caliber  illustrates only one category of replica muzzleloading guns covered in the new book.

Click on the iBooks image to buy book

Sandersville, GA., Buying Used Muzzleloading Guns is the second of a series of eight E-books by Wm. Hovey Smith in the Muzzleloading Short Shots series to be published in 2013. The 35-page book is now available on Amazon.com as a Kindle title for $4.99.  It is now also available, or soon will be,  by Barnes & Noble as a Nook Book as well as from Apple’s iBookstore, Sony, Kobo, Copia, Gardners, Baker & Taylor, eBookPie and eSentral for the same price.

For those who do not have E-readers, a pdf file  with color photos that may be read on any computer and many E-connected devices can be ordered via PayPal from the author’s website www.hoveysmith.com for $7.00.

Buying Used Muzzleloading Cover In the book the author systematically covers the different styles of replica muzzleloading guns that have been offered in the last half-century and offers candid comments about their potential uses and values based on his  experiences hunting with them in the U.S., Europe and Africa.

Titles of the 3 Chapters are, Buying used black-powder rifles with tips on how to evaluate guns by examination of their Barrels, Stocks, Sights, Locks, Ramrods, Cosmetics along with Eight handy reasons for buying a used muzzleloading rifle.

Chapter 2, Evaluating used replica revolvers, considers Brass framed “Confederate” revolvers, Stainless steel guns, Ruger “Old Army,” Colt Walker and Dragoons, Colt 1851 44s and 36s., Remington 1858 revolvers, 1873 Black Powder revolver, .31-caliber revolvers, .22-caliber revolvers and others.

Chapter 3, Selecting a used smoothbore gun has sections on Single barreled guns and fowlers, Double barreled shotguns and rifles, and Military muskets. The book concludes with Supplier’s Addresses with e-mail links to the companies.

Each chapter contains a candid discussion of the topics based on his experiences with these guns and he reports on both their advantages and shortcomings along with notes on current prices and pointed recommendations for various uses.

Not only would this book be useful for those thinking about hunting with muzzleloading guns for the first time, it also explores many unusual aspects of muzzloaders that have potential uses such as waterfowl hunting with ex-military muskets, handgun hunting for deer and wild hogs with pistols and small game and turkey hunting with a variety of guns.

Click on the iBooks image to buy book

Other books in this series to be published this year will be Book 3, Shooting and Maintaining Your Muzzleloader that is now in progress, Book 4. Hunting with Muzzleloading Shotguns and Smoothbore Muskets, Book 5. Hunting Big and Small Game with Muzzleloading Pistols, Book 6. Hunting with Muzzleloading Revolvers, Book 7. Muzzleloading Guns for Self Defense and Book 8. Building Your Own Muzzleloader. All of these titles will be available from the same E-book outlets.

First Title of Muzzleloading Short Shots Book E-Book Series Now Available

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Author with swan at Lake Mattamuskeet NCThis is only one of the unusual guns and hunts that where I use muzzleloading rifles, pistols, smoothbores and shotguns to take large and small game animals. This book is designed to introduce other hunters to the possibilities that muzzleloading guns offer for taking a variety of interesting game animals and fowl.

Click on the iBooks image to buy book

Muzzleloaders for Hunting CoverSandersville, GA.,  Muzzleloaders for hunters  by Wm. Hovey Smith is the first of a series of eight E-books in the Muzzleloading Short Shots series to be published. The 36-page book  is now available on Amazon.com as a Kindle title for $4.99.  Within three weeks it will also be sold by Barnes & Noble as a Nook Book as well as from Apple’s iBookstore, Sony, Kobo, Copia, Gardners, Baker & Taylor, eBookPie and eSentral for the same price.

For those who do not have E-readers, a pdf file that may be read on any computer and many E-connected devices can be ordered via PayPal from the author’s website www.hoveysmith.com for $7.00.

Subtitled, How to select a muzzleloader that fits your hunting style and pocketbook, this new approach to muzzleloading by author Wm. Hovey Smith, has ten chapters that examines the different styles of muzzleloaders used for hunting big and small game, helps the user select among them and gives examples of their uses from his 50 years of hunting with muzzleloading guns in North America, Europe and Africa.

Titles of the 10 Chapters are, Why hunt with muzzleloading guns?, Selecting your first muzzleloader, Drop-barrel muzzleloaders, Bolt and striker-fired in-lines, Falling, rolling and pivoting-block muzzleloaders, Muzzleloading revolvers, Hunting small and big game with smoothbores, Building muzzleloading guns from kits, Muzzleloading rifles for young people, ladies and seniors, What about a custom muzzleloader? and concludes with Supplier’s Addresses with e-mail links to the companies.

Each chapter contains a candid discussion of the topics based on his experiences with these guns and he reports on both their advantages and shortcomings along with notes on current prices and pointed recommendations for various uses.

Not only would this book be useful for those thinking about hunting with muzzleloading guns for the first time, it also explores many unusual aspects of muzzloading such as waterfowl hunting with ex-military muskets, handgun hunting for deer and wild hogs with pistols and small game and turkey hunting with a variety of guns.

Click on the iBook image to buy book

Book 2, Buying Used Muzzleloading Guns, is now available, and the other books in the series will be released in 2013.  Other Muzzleloading Short Shot Books are Book 3, Shooting and Maintaining Your Muzzleloader, Book 4. Hunting with Muzzleloading Shotguns and Smoothbore Muskets, Book 5. Hunting Big and Small Game with Muzzleloading Pistols, Book 6. Hunting with Muzzleloading Revolvers, Book 7. Muzzleloading Guns for Self Defense and Book 8. Building Your Own Muzzleloader. All of these titles will be available from the same E-book outlets. 

Written by hoveysmith

April 15, 2013 at 2:29 am

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Sportsman’s Guide Blunderbuss Takes a Georgia Turkey

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Sportsmans Guide blunderbuss with GA turkey and loading components.

Sportsmans Guide blunderbuss with GA turkey and loading components.


Click on the iBooks image to order Book

Over the past year my work with a .54-caliber blunderbuss kit that is made by Traditions, but only available from the Sportsmans Guide catalog company, has taken on something of a quest. This started with putting the gun together, initial shooting, taping on a conglomeration of cardboard and tape so that I could get it to shoot to the point of aim, attaching a homemade wooden stock comb and refinishing the gun. On the hunting end it killed five squirrels, knocked down a swan that I had to finish off with a Mossberg 500 12-gauge pump, and because of mechanical failures failed to hit a close-range deer because the ball rolled out of the barrel and missed an even closer hog when it lost its barrel-retaining screw.

With renewed resolve, a permanent wooden comb, better loads using MMP .54-caliber sabots  (instead of my hand-cut wads), a nitride-coated barrel from H&M Metal Processing of Akron, Ohio, and a proven load of 70-grains of Hodgdon’s TripleSeven powder and a mix of no. 5 and 7 1/2-lead shot, Young Blunderbuss and I went turkey hunting. Eight times we went turkey hunting with no shot opportunities and no turkey. They would not come to my calling, although they sometimes responded. When I set up in areas they commonly used, they were elsewhere. Ug.

I was invited by friend Roger Kicklighter to go in early April to a piece of property that we had hunted perhaps 10 years before. I had turkey hunted with Roger for perhaps as many as 20 times, but had never killed a bird with him, although I had taken birds on my own. At 5:30 AM, he arrived and I grabbed some wild-hog sausage biscuits that I had made that morning and some coffee and we were once again off.  Between smoke, fog and pollen he could hardly see the road to drive. Nonetheless, at 6:00 AM we were at the starting point before dawn was starting to break.

He was hunting a few hundred yards away from me, and he positioned me in an area with heavy turkey scratchings close to a field road which ran through some mature planted pines. I put my three many-times repaired decoys out and awaited developments. There were some. At least three gobblers in different directions called from their roost trees. After a time, I talked to them and they to me; but they would not approach. Once I looked up and saw a white head at about 80 yards. I called to him, but he would not come. By 10:00 AM the woods were quiet again, Roger returned and we ate the biscuits and some pickled eggs.

Decision time. I agreed with Roger that the area where I was looked very good from the mix of old and new scratchings. I decided to stay where I was while he went to set up on a food plot to exercise some of his new decoys.  I moved Andre, Helga and Henrietta to  the near side of the woods road so that they would be easily visible, repositioned myself to another pine tree, cut some briers, pulled some downed limbs around my hide, put my old cushion down, put camo on and sat. From time to time I would call a little, but got absolutely no response.

Looking through the trees down the road about an hour-and-a-half later,  I  saw two toms approaching at about 70 yards. They spotted my decoys which were moving slightly in the breeze.  As they approached they were side-by-side with one stopping to strut a little while the other pulled ahead. There was no need to call, and I did not. My gun was across my lap, and I had to wait until there were trees between them and me so that I could raise the blunderbuss. If I was too late in making that movement they would spot it and fly. It was imperative that I let them get to within 25 yards and that they would separate.

As a guest,  I was not going to shoot more than one bird, and I had rather have a single bird  killed that two wounded.  When their heads were blocked by a group of pine tree trunks, I moved slightly and raised my gun.  I picked out a clear area along their projected travel path and pointed the gun at it. I sighting in over the top of the belled muzzle, put my cheek firmly down on the comb of the stock and waited. By happenstance, one of the toms had pulled ahead of the other one by almost two bird lengths.

When the leading tom stepped into the open spot, I checked my “sights.” Since the blunderbuss has none, this consisted of lining up the entire length of the barrel with the middle of the tom’s neck and aiming precisely over the top of the middle of the funnel on the end of the barrel. I had already “silent cocked” the gun. I had checked my no. 11 percussion cap and crimped it on the nipple when I  shifted my  location. The  cap was still on the nipple.

Although the turkey’s head was  held against the body, I aimed half-way down the neck and pulled the trigger.  Blunderbuss  had been loaded for nearly three weeks and been on eight previous hunts. There is always a risk that through all that handling some or most of the shot had dribbled out of the barrel pass my homemade wad. This time that was apparently not the case, as the gun went off instantly,  and  I saw the bird drop in its tracks.

It was apparently fatally struck, but I wanted to take no chances with it. Its companion ran about 20 yards off and then returned to spur and pick at the bird. I was trying to stand on my numb legs and staggered towards my flopping bird. Only when I was at the side of the road did its buddy run away. If I had another shot or a cartridge gun, I could have surely taken a second bird, but one was enough.

After a number of steps I was somewhat more walking than falling on my numb legs and put a foot on the bird’s tail and promptly pulled out all of its tail feathers. As hard as they are to pluck when the bird is cold, they came out easily when the ambient temperature was 80 degrees. I killed the bird and recovered it.  It had about a 9-inch beard and 7/8-th inch spurs, which is typical of a 2-year-old  Eastern Tom.

One of two YouTube videos made at the time is posted at: http://youtu.be/VQqscMImf1A.

Plucked turkey with 30 body hits and 8 in the head and neck.

Plucked turkey with 30 body hits and 8 in the head and neck.

When I plucked it I found that some 30 shot had struck the bird all the way from its legs to its beak. This is about what might be expected from a cylinder-bored gun. Of these, 8 had hit in the vital head and neck area. The immediately fatal shots were a cluster of three through the brain. This was the reason that the bird went down so fast.

The end result.

The end result.

Cleaned, dressed and ready for the freezer it weighed 15 1/2-pounds and will next appear on a platter for Christmas dinner along with cornbread dressing, giblet gravy and the usual holiday fixings.

Blunderbusses were never very common,  although they did have uses as self-defense guns by stage drivers because they could be loaded while bouncing along and for military uses in close combat aboard ships. Use of the gun probably peaked about 1790 when numbers of them were employed by those resisting the British during the Irish Rebellion of 1792. Many of the Irish did not own guns and were not shooters. The intimidating blunderbuss gave the untrained urban revolutionaries a feeling of confidence against the British with their Brown Bess muskets. While true that they would likely hit something, they had best be nimble enough to get out of the way of their opponent’s bayonets.

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Written by hoveysmith

April 12, 2013 at 9:50 am

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How to Become a Gunsmith

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Here I interview Public Relations Mgr. Larry Weeks at the 7th Annual Career Fair in Des Moines, IA.

Here I interview Public Relations Mgr. Larry Weeks at the 7th Annual Career Fair in Des Moines, IANext year’s event will be April 1-2.  For info. go to www.GunsmithCareerFair.com.

CEO Pete Brownell with the author's blunderbuss.

CEO Pete Brownell with the author’s blunderbuss.

Like many black-powder gun writers, I not only hunt with factory guns, but occasionally put together kits and/or modify these guns so that they will better fit my shooting needs.  A building project with a Sportsman’s Guide blunderbuss kit caused me to use some of Brownells’  products made by Birchwood Casey. At a writers’ conference Pete Brownell, the CEO, was  taken with the gun, and I was invited to attend the 7th Annual Brownells Gunsmith Conference and Career Fair in Des Moines, Iowa in March, 2013. I produced five videos from the event which are available on YouTube. The one most appropriate to this post was “How to be a gunsmith,” which may be viewed at: http://youtu.be/vPBg6hHHm2Q.

It has always been interesting to me to follow the evolution of a large number of outdoor-related companies that were founded immediately after World War II that become household names. Gun manufactures included Ruger and Weatherby.  Nosler, Hornady and Speer provided effective hunting bullets for sportsmen  while Hodgdon  marketed military surplus powders and now has a large variety of cartridge and muzzleloading powder products.  Bob Brownell  was a gunsmith who had trouble getting the supplies that he needed,  and he decided to start a distribution company that would sell  these to the nation’s gunsmiths. Starting with a handful of products shipped from his house, the company now catalogues over 80,000 items including more than 200 that were developed by Brownells.

Bob’s son Frank assumed the leadership role after his father’s death, and Pete Brownell is now the CEO of the family business. If you want to hear exactly how these transitions took place, I have a video interview with Frank and Pete at  http://youtu.be/fkKWwKQBV-0.  This is a good example of how a family business can expand its original vision, take advantage of new market trends and adapt to supply its customers’ changing  needs. The takeaway from this video is that businesses must  expand to incorporate evolving changes in the market or die. The hard part is that throughout this evolutionary process they must  simultaneously keep focused on the business’ purpose and  its customers’ needs while avoiding unwarranted risks.

Gunsmithing Schools

Pennsylvania Gunsmithing Red.

A Pennsylvania Gunsmith School  student displays a project rifle to school  Director Bob Thacker and the author.

Many gunsmiths go into the firearms-outdoor field with the hope that some day they can make a personal impact on the market. One of the better ways to accomplish this is to attend one of the nation’s gunsmithing schools, gain additional experiences working for a company and then strike out on their own. The Career Fair portion of the event consisted of bringing gunsmithing students from eight schools to talk to potential employers and expose them to successful gunsmiths.

Schools represented at the event were: Trinidad State Junior College in Trinidad, Colorado,  (www.trinidadstate.edu);  Pennsylvania Gunsmith School, Pittsburg, (www.pagunsmith.edu); Montgomery Community College in Troy, North Carolina, (www.montgomery.edu); Pine Technical College, Pine City, Minnesota, (www.pinetech.edu); Wabash Valley College, Mount Carmel, Illinois, (www.iecc.edu/wvc ); Colorado School of Trades, Lakewood, Colorado (www.schooloftrades.edu); Murray State College, Tishomingo, Oklahoma (www.mscok.edu); Piedmont Technical College in Greenwood, South Carolina, (www.ptc.edu).

These schools offer specialized programs that may run only a few weeks to Diploma programs that include over a year’s study and might cost  $30,000. Courses at these  schools range from traditional gun stocking and metal finishing, to engraving,  to  CAD design and  CNC machining. Each student is encouraged to discover what aspects of gunmaking appeals to him and concentrate on developing core skills in that direction. Along with the hands-on instruction are courses about the legal and practical aspects of running a gunsmithing business. A video done with Bob Thacker about the Pennsylvania Gunsmith School’s 15 courses may be seen at: http://youtu.be/Q1I9HKLTnUk.

Internship Opportunity

Taking a Georgia alligator with a muzzleloading revolver.

Taking a Georgia alligator with a muzzleloading revolver.

An additional opportunity is that I offer is a three-month internship with me at Whitehall to learn  modern media communications. This includes helping me put out my usual products of books, videos, blogs while also taking an independent project on their own under my supervision. This is a custom-designed internship where the student will learn what form of media expression he/she is most adept at and how to use it to publicize their own work. This is like “moving in with grandpa” in that interns live with me at Whitehall, and work under my supervision five days a week while also helping me keep the house and yard up.  For two days they may work on their projects or even make one weekend trip home. At the conclusion of the internship they will have produced, or be on the way to finishing, a body of independent work of their own, a recommendation from me and have obtained a much better feel for the outdoor business world and how they can best make a living doing what they love to do.

To find out the details of what I do and what interns would be exposed to go to my website www.hoveysmith.com. There you will find links to my books, blogs, videos, products and industry consulting activities.

Interns travel with me when I go to writers’ conferences and cover events like the Shot Show. They will help me shoot and edit video productions, edit print copy for books, start their own blog, shoot publication quality still photos of firearms and related products as well as have the opportunity to meet potential employers. They will also be introduced to crossbow hunting, muzzleloading hunting and bowfishing – subjects that are not often fully covered by classroom instruction. The end result will be a gunsmith with a demonstrated ability to communicate with all aspects of modern media on a professional level.

Successful candidates will likely have already produced written or video materials or should do so while successfully completing their gunsmith training. This position is open to men and women as well as to couples who want to work together in this field. Video and writing samples are required as are telephone interviews. I have immediate openings.

Written by hoveysmith

April 2, 2013 at 1:24 pm