***High Resolution Photos Available on Request***
The National Muzzle Loading Rifle Association in Friendship, Indiana will hold its week-long celebration of all things relating to the sport and history of muzzleloading June 12th – 20th. Early American living history demonstrations and classes, museum displays, black powder shooting competitions, shopping opportunities, a wine tasting, youth activities, and some of the finest commercial vendors in the muzzleloading community will be featured. The National Spring Shoot is an opportunity to view an important part of our nation’s heritage in operation. The event grounds are located in the rolling hills of beautiful southeastern Indiana about forty miles from Cincinnati, Ohio. Public attendance is welcome and encouraged, and there are many things to see and do!
Eighteenth and Early 19th Century Crafts on Display in the “Living History Center”
The most colorful aspect of the Nationals is the interactive living history program featured in the Primitive Encampment/Living History Center. Located on the banks of Laughery Creek, this area serves to remind visitor and participant alike of the importance of the historical heritage behind the sport of muzzleloading. At various times throughout the Nationals, visitors might be treated to the sounds of French Canadian harmonies, fife and drums, Early American songs, or hammer dulcimer and bagpipe music. Scheduled programs and traditional crafts artisans include blacksmithing, woodworking, a frontier scout horse encampment, weaving, 18th century medicine, and many more demonstrations in camps scattered throughout the Living History Center grounds. Classes and workshops include ones devoted to the arts of blockprinting, basketry, bowmaking, blacksmithing and leatherworking. Special activities are planned for children, including an archaeology class, butter churning, bead stringing, corn husk dollmaking, a Native American-style pottery class, period games, storytelling, and candle dipping! Period foods will be featured, including homemade root beer, perfect for a warm and sunny June day!
Wine Tasting with Ertel Cellars
The Southeastern corner of Indiana is home to a number of premier wineries, and Ripley County has one of the best. The NMLRA will welcome one of these wineries, Ertel Cellars of Batesville, Indiana for a wine tasting celebration at the Rand House Museum from 3:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m. June 12th.
Ertel Cellars has maintained their own vineyard in the fertile soil of the Ripley County hills since 1999, and opened their winery and restaurant in 2006. Located on 200 lovely acres, the family owned winery, founded by Tom Ertel, boasts a number of fine wines, produced by Brian Ahaus. Brian has over 15 years of experience in winemaking, and his wines have won many awards. These wines, from sweet fruit wines to the dryer Chardonnay and Cabernet, complement good food, conversation, and friends.
The Rand House Museum will host Ertel Cellars at the wine tasting. The winery will be bringing over a dozen different wines for sampling, and their wine will be available for purchase. As you sip and view the museum exhibits, which will also be open during the wine tasting, take some time to drift onto the Rand House front porch, where Rick and Hillary Wagner of Jim’s Red Pants will be playing music to compliment the occasion.
Rand House Museum Displays
Curt Johnson is bringing a large collection of Illinois-made firearms. Curt’s interest in collecting Illinois guns began in 1968 when he was shown a locally made, 19th century rifle. Although he was familiar with many of the gunmakers from out East, seeing this piece sparked his interest in finding out more about the gunmakers from the state where he lived. These gunmakers helped outfit not only the local pioneers, but also those headed on their way to settle the American West. Curt then began his long quest to learn all he could about Illinois-made firearms, and aquired a beautiful collection of original pieces. Curt has agreed to share his passion for these guns by displaying many of them at the Rand House Museum for the 2010 National Spring Shoot. These will include longrifles, Plains rifles, percussion Schuetzen rifles, and shotguns. Tools and photos related to the history of Illinois firearms will also be on display. Curt exhibited part of his collection in 1998 at the Rand House Museum, but states that he has amassed many fine new pieces since that time, and some of these will be on exhibit in June. Besides being an avid collector, Curt is an accomplished author. He will have available for sale his series of volumes entitled “Gunmakers of Illinois,” published by George Shumway.
Jeff Jaeger, who is well known as a collector of Indiana-made firearms and who has exhibited parts of his personal collection in the past at the Rand House, will be on hand to talk about and promote a new book he co-authored with Jim Dresslar, “John Small of Vincennes, Gunsmith on the Western Frontier.” The book chronicles the life of John Small, and discusses his many diverse craft skills and business interests. Jaeger and Dresslar highlight specific examples of Small’s work owned by well-known names in American frontier history, such as William Clark, the Girty brothers, Francis Vigo, and Pierre Menard. Recently reviewed in Muzzle Blasts (December 2009), the book provides fascinating insight into the life of this early Indiana gunsmith. In his review of the Jaeger/Dresslar work, noted author James Alexander Thom (Panther in the Sky, Follow the River, etc.) wrote “It is a quality work, about quality work…congratulations on such a beautiful production…the photographic representations of John Small’s fine handiwork show that your verbal praise is not exaggerated…the research is thorough, the history accurate.” The book will be on sale at the Rand House Museum during the course of the Spring Shoot.
Philip Schreier of the National Rifle Association’s National Firearms Museum is a frequent guest curator at the Rand House, and is planning on bringing some collection pieces for display. Watch the NMLRA website at www.nmlra.org for future updates on the NRA’s exhibit.
Museum hours for the National Spring Shoot are 11:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m. June 12th – 19th.
Exciting Firearms Competitions
National-class competitive muzzleloading shooting is a strong focus of this gathering. As a special feature this year, the National Rifle Association (NRA) will be bringing their Muzzleloading Championship matches to the National Spring Shoot! The NRA and NMLRA have teamed up to bring many new competition opportunities, as participants can now compete in the NRA National Muzzle Loading Championships and at the same time shoot the NMLRA’s National Spring Shoot! Try to win an NRA National Championship and set NRA national records, all while shooting for NMLRA honors, too! There are so many matches that there is truly something for shooters of all skill levels, and with all types of muzzleloading equipment. Win, lose, or draw, all the matches are enjoyable, and a great opportunity to learn by shooting with the best. A special feature of the competition area is the Youth Range, developed by the National Muzzle Loading Rifle Association as a way to safely teach children how to shoot muzzleloading firearms and get them involved and engaged in the sport at a young age!
To see truly fine examples of craftsmanship, visit Gunmaker’s Hall during the Nationals. Exhibited at this facility are some of the finest examples of modern gunbuilding by today’s master craftspeople. Gunmaker’s Hall also sponsors a series of lectures during the Shoot.
The Commercial Vendor area features a myriad of muzzleloading guns and supplies for the serious shooter or the enthusiastic beginner. Many rows of booths offer merchandise ranging from guns and gun parts to books, period clothing, leather goods, and other supplies relating to the sport. The Commercial Vendors offer a wonderful opportunity to listen and learn from the experts in the hobby. In addition, the Living History Center on the event grounds provides for some interesting browsing and buying amongst the quality vendors of period merchandise and historical crafts.
Handicap parking is available. No pets are allowed except assistance animals. Gate hours are 8 a.m.-5:00 p.m. EDT June 12th – 19th. Admission is charged for visitors 16 and up, and a portion of the parking fee benefits the local American Legion. For more information on the National Muzzleloading Rifle Association’s National Spring Shoot and the living arts programming, please contact the National Muzzle Loading Rifle Association at 1.800.745.1493, www.nmlra.org.
Visitors attending the National Spring Shoot might also be interested in another area attraction, the two Flea Markets that are adjacent to the National Muzzle Loading Rifle Association’s event grounds. Flea Market activities are ongoing throughout the National Spring Shoot and hours vary. For information in regards to the Flea Markets, contact the Old Mill Campground and Flea Market, Gary Stutler, 812.667.5322, and the Friendship Flea Market, Jan Schnell, 859.341.9188, or 812.667.5645, www.friendshipfleamarket.com.
For directions to the site, and information about hotel and motel facilities, Bed and Breakfasts, restaurants, and other area attractions, contact the Ripley County Tourism Bureau offices, 1.888.747.5394, www.ripleycountytourism.com.