Muzzleloading basics- #1 Safety
Good eyesight & hearing are essential to enjoy life. All shooters should wear eye and ear protection because shooting can damage, even destroy the ability to see and hear.
Be serious about safety. Handle a muzzleloader in the same careful manner as any other firearm. Read and follow all manufacturers reccomendations.
Always seek qualified guidance and instruction regarding all unfamiliar firearms.
Properly identify your target. Always be certain what is behind and beyond the target before shooting.
Keep all parts of your body, especially hands, face and head away from the muzzle at all times.
Never blow down the barrel!
Muzzleloading basics- #2 The Rifle
Muzzleloading rifles employ a number of different ignition systems, the most popular of which is the "percussion lock" (pictured above). Other types of ignition systems include the matchlock, wheellock and the flintlock. Generally speaking, the flintlock & percussion lock are the only ignition systems in regular use today. The percussion lock utilizes a small copper cap lined with a small amount of explosive compound such as lead styphnate to ignite the powder charge. The flintlock, on the other hand , ignites a small charge of powder contained in the"priming pan". This is accomplished by the flint striking a hinged "frizzen", which moves forward to uncover the priming pan, and allows the sparks created by the flint striking the the frizzen to fall into the priming pan powder. This in turn ignites the main charge in the barrel.
In addition to the above mentioned ignition systems, there is the "modern" version, known as the "inline". Altho actually in existence for over 100 years, the "modern" inline system is generally used by hunters, takeing advantage of special blackpowder hunting seasons. Generally speaking, the inline system is thought to be more reliable.
Illustrations by Roy Gatlin