The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

Union County

November 18, 2013

Muzzle loader shooters have a blast

LEWISBURG — Union County’s Muzzle Loader Shoot ushered in the final week of the county’s bicentennial celebration with a bang.

The Sunday shoot, presented by members of the Union County Long Rifle Association, pitted members of northern Union County against residents of southern Union County in a friendly competition.

The two teams, made up of five members for the south team and six for the north team, competed to see who could perform the best in three events: a corn cob shoot, a target shoot and a stake shoot. The muzzle loaders were replicas of firearms used in frontier-era Pennsylvania, with all members dressed in period clothing.

The first event saw the members taking pot shots at corn cobs tied to targets and ended in a scoreless draw.

“Neither one of us hit them,” said Mark Wehr, president of the Union County Long Rifle Association, with a laugh. Wehr and his north Union teammates ended up falling behind in the second contest, where metal silhouettes, made to resemble turkeys, bears and other wildlife, were placed about 150 yards away from shooters. The goal was to shoot them down in the fewest shots possible.

Each team had 12 silhouettes to knock over, and the south downed its dozen while the north still had three to go.

The final competition, the stake shoot, saw each team trying to blast a stake, stuck about 20 feet away, to splinters. With only a few minutes left in the event, the north shooters blew theirs to pieces, ending the shoot in a draw.

The shoot went well, said Wehr, considering that the wet weather posed some problems for both teams. What sets shooting a muzzle loader apart from other firearms is that the gun operates on a spark caused by a flintlock.

“Today’s on the trying side because it’s damp … It’s harder to shoot in damp weather,” Wehr said.

Duane Miller, captain for the south Union County team, agreed.

“About a quarter of the time, the guns didn’t go off due to moisture on the flint,” he said. “We had lots of fun.”

“We didn’t shoot that good … but we always have a good time,” Wehr said.

The Union County Long Rifle Association holds an open shoot the first Sunday of every month at 9 a.m. on the grounds of the Union County Sportsmen’s Club.

The Union County’s bicentennial celebrations will hold a Christkindl Celebration concert at 7 at Bucknell University’s Weis Center. The closing ceremony for the bicentennial celebrations will be at 11 a.m. Friday at the Union County Courthouse.

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