Shooters flash big guns at rendezvous state titles
SHOOTERS brought the term a flash in the pan to life at the Burrandowan rendezvous state titles with the historical armoury of black powder fire arms.
South Burnett rendezvous club captain Phil Argent lifted his muzzle-loaded musket and eased back the trigger, only for a flash to fizz and a wall of smoke erupt from the gun's pan.
But a fine adjustment to the flint saw his next shot fire with an enormous crack followed by the metallic dink as his lead shot hit the target.
"We're competing with firearms of the black powder era," he said.
With fire arms modelled around those used between 1600-1860, competitors in full historical dress tried their hand with flint and percussion single-shot pistols, flintlock muskets, cap and ball revolvers, rifles and shotguns.
But for Argent in full light infantry dress, it was the flintlock musket he felt most comfortable using.
"I like the flintlocks (muskets) just because mechanically, they interest me - mechanical engineering is my game," he said.
"It's a combination of living history and competing," Argent said.
"Years ago they used to use originals but now because of the age of them, original reconstructions are used.
"(Originals) are still used in England and America, but they have a lot more originals."
But every competitor faced difficulties with their firearms at the weekend with misfires which took a while to reload the black powder at the firing line.
"It's not hard but it's something you learn with practice," Argent said.
"Everything is muzzle loaded apart from the rifle."
With more than 100 rounds fired across all events, competitors found themselves spending more time reloading than shooting.
But the loading of the firearms was not the only difficult factor shooters had to compete against; with guns simplistic designs it could be said they were taking a shots in the dark.
"You have no sights and you have no rifling, and there's a big flash in your face with the pan flash," Argent said.
This challenge was enough to turn ex-military man Ron Evans to the sport.
"I'm one of the ex-servicemen who once said if it doesn't have a magazine or belt, I'm not firing it," he said.
"But here I am."
Evans has competed in rendezvous shoots for more than 20 years, drawn in by the camaraderie of the competitors and the element of fun it introduces with the historical dress and role-play camps.
"You can go away and be a kid again," he said.
He said you could take it to the next level but after years spent in the frontline of competitions, Evans decided to take a more laid-back approach.
"There is a black powder competition, you have state shoots and world bloody shoots," he said.
"(But) we aren't competitive; we're here for a good time."
While he may not take competition too seriously, Evans has not skipped out on the costs of the sport, kitting himself out with a gun for each class.
"Some of those guns are quite dear, you can spend up to $2000 on one," he said.
"But it just adds to it, everybody's gear is different, nobody has the same gear."