After the NSS year-end assembly, four of Dorian Boswell’s Outdoor Ed. students headed to try their hand at black powder shooting.
Unlike your modern conventional firearms, shots for black powder guns are built one by one, with the accuracy of the shots depending on how they are built. Boswell told the group that their accuracy can be greater than modern guns if the shots are built right.
To build a shot, you first start with a measure of black powder (the measure was 70 grains for this session of target practise), then a soaked cotton patch with a ball. Originally the cotton patches were soaked with spit, but the students were rescued from having to taste fabric thanks to a bottle of artificial spit. If artificial tears, why not spit?
The patch and ball are then pushed into the barrel with a ball starter, then the ramrod attached to the gun until they reach the bottom where the powder is. The cloth handily cleans the barrel as it flies out after serving to create a seal and propel the ball out. Then, a percussion cap is attached, gun aimed and fired, and a boom and big black cloud of smelly smoke. And, repeat.