Back in BLACK

Rankins Springs 18/19th July 2020

It was with great personal anticipation that this shoot was finally upon us, while I am a big fan of many things shooting:

  • .22 trainers
  • .310 Cadets
  • Service pistol shooting
  • Trap shooting
  • Full-bore target rifle shooting

there is one type of shooting that is truly a personal passion, that is BLACK POWDER shooting.!

At the Fluke Trophy shoot, November 2019, during one of our novelty trap shoots I was able display black powder cartridge shotgun shooting. This was fortunately captured with an excellent piece of photography from Alllllllllaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaan!

On arrival at the Rankins Springs Shooting Complex at lunchtime Friday, Alana and I were welcomed by our good friend Mr Gill, but there was a new face in camp. Before introductions could be completed, I guessed I was about to meet “The Man, The Myth, The Legend” Mr Derek Height, President of our peak body, the NSW Muzzle Loading Association. What followed was an afternoon and evening filled with great conversations about all things black powder and muzzle loading.

“The Man, The Myth, The Legend” Mr Derek Height, President NSW Muzzle Loading Association

As Saturday morning arrived our usual LERAA program was in full swing. Official welcoming, flag raisings, dedications and safety briefings were commenced, concluded and then we were into the always hotly contested LERAA Tag event.

With the competitions completed it was time for some BLACK! After a few years of conversation and idea throwing, it was finally time for the first official LERAA Black shoot. This shoot was more of a demonstration and welcome to the world of black powder. What followed was the essential briefing on the safe use, loading and shooting of black powder firearms under the expert tutelage of Derek Height. Various black powder firearms were discussed and their operation demonstrated. There was smooth bore and rifled, flintlock and percussion lock muzzle loaders being discussed, being of either military or civilian/hunting origins, both originals as well as faithful reproductions. We even had a demonstration of flint knapping. Once the necessary discussions were had, I gave a short talk on the history of the muzzle loaders that were about to be demonstrated and in particular the black powder long arms used by the British Empire and its Colonies during the past 250-300 years, the progression to black powder cartridge rifles and then onto smokeless propellants including the early use of the Lee Metford and Lee Enfield rifles.

Kaboom!? Where’s the mighty Kaboom?

Now it was time to make some smoke. Derek started off with a great display of shooting with his original 1790’s Short Land Pattern musket a.k.a. Baby (Brown) Bess and then his Parker Hale 2 band Enfield. Michael Gill, Graham Murgatroyd and I then loaded and fired our 1853 3 band Enfields, an original, a Euroarms and Parker Hale reproduction respectively. It was then an hour or two of everyone getting a go. Plenty of .58 cal holes were put in the newly made 1850 Bisley Black Powder Targets, with accompanying smiles and talk of “I really need to get one of these” from gathered shooters.


Over the coming months a lot of work will be undertaken to prepare for an inaugural LERAA Black Powder shoot. this will bring out the muzzle loading fans amongst us and add another shooting interest to many a member I’m sure! A couple of things to remember, an 1853 Enfield sitting next to its son’s and grandsons (SMLE’s etc.) in your safe is quite ok, even encouraged BUT Once you go Black, it’s hard to go back! Enjoy the smoke,

Cheers Simon Hale

LERAA Black Powder Captain

Back in Black (we know you sang it!!)