|Black powder shooters on the firing line take careful aim at their targets.|
Well another meat shoot has come and gone as the Book Cliff Muzzleloaders held their annual shoot at the Pinnacle Range. There were 49 shooters from across the state of Utah with the majority coming from Emery and Carbon counties. The current president of the club is Doc Atwood.
The shooters were greeted by the bright sunshine of a Castle Valley winter day that was neither cold nor warm.
The Book Cliff Muzzleloader Club is the oldest functioning black powder club in the state of Utah. With the first shoots being held in the early 1970s. There have been a variety of club presidents over the years, but original member Larry Williams tells the story that he was the president for the first 10 years and then Don Burge was the president for the next 10 years. Since then there has been Willie Stoddard, Sam Espinoza, Andy Schmidt, Clifford Oviatt, Pat Gonzales, Brandy Fillingim, Jeff DeFriez, who moved to Alaska and last but not least there were the two Pats, not to be confused with the other Pat Gonzales. Quite possibly there are many more presidents I've forgotten about, too.
For awhile it seemed like your wife had to be named Pat to be a member of the blackpowder club. But the two Pats were me, Pat Stoddard and Pat Espinoza and to hear Bennett Ray Gunderson tell the story those were the best of times.
Being the president of a blackpowder club is a lot of fun and a lot of work. There are a lot of details that go into a black powder shoot. Our blackpowder club shoots once and sometimes twice a month throughout the winter culminating in a large spring shoot out at the Buckhorn Draw. This spring shoot attracts shooters from across the state to compete for some of the best prizes given at rendezvous anywhere.
Many times there are close to 100 shooters at the spring shoot. Getting ready for the spring shoot is work and fun. It's great fun spending the club's money to pick out the prizes. When Pat and I were the presidents we made it quite the event. We gathered the husbands in the car and shopped until we dropped or ran out of money. We gathered prizes of every kind, sleeping bags, lanterns, shooting supplies, portable tables, gun stands, black powder, primitive clothing and much more. Shooters like variety in their prizes. After you've been shooting black powder guns for 21 years as I have, you usually have everything you need. Handmade items are the real treasures.
We have many things we won that were made by people who have since gone to the Happy Hunting Ground. These types of prizes become treasures as the years go by.
One of the best things about shooting black powder is the wonderful friends that you meet. Many of them you only see at the rendezvous. Sometimes you can't even recognize your friends unless they are in their period-mountain man clothes. One story which is a little on the racy side, but it was still kinda funny, anyway, one time at a shoot in St. George a lady that we shoot with was walking along and a group of people had just arrived at the rendezvous in their street clothes and this lady looked at them and said, "Why I didn't recognize you without your clothes on." Well, we all had a good laugh and the tourists just weren't sure what it all meant. But, she really just meant she didn't recognize them because they weren't in their buckskins.
Well, it's all just for fun and no one really takes it too serious. Smoky used to take it pretty serious, but now he's gone over to shooting cowboy guns and we're not sure what happened to him.
It's a great way to get out and get some fresh air on a winter's afternoon and you might win something in the process. Most shoots you bring a prize and then pick a prize to take home. The best shooter of the day picks first and usually wins something extra too.
I've never had to worry much about choosing something because I usually get whatever is left, but that's OK too. I never liked making decisions anyway.
At the meat shoot you win turkey, ham and food prizes if you're a good enough shot. Most of the targets at the meat shoot had close to perfect scores, so all I took home was my gun, oh and my husband, he got back in the truck too.
The club usually doesn't shoot much during the summer because of other shoots around the region to go to. Just after Fort Bridger which is Labor Day weekend in Wyoming, then the club starts the fall shoots to get your black powder gun ready for the hunts.
The club is always looking for new members and anyone who wants to learn to shoot is welcome. Someone is always willing to let you try out their gun or sell you a gun, cheap. Contact Doc Atwood for more information at 435-637-2923.