Muzzle loaders trek into Carson

Old-timers and youngsters alike crowded into the foothills above Carson City on Friday for the start of the annual Eagle Valley Muzzleloaders Rendezvous.

Through Sunday, the sounds of black powder pistols and rifles shot by buckskin-clad enthusiasts will hearken back to a time before the West was won.

Shooting competitions and primitive camping techniques are expected to draw about 150 people to a small valley connected by a dirt road to the end of Rhodes Street in South Carson.

Pete Lehr, a self-professed "trader" who has made his living selling reproduction clothes and equipment from the early 1800s, has set up his tent at the gathering for the last five years.

"You get into black powder and you start learning more and more, and pretty soon you want to know everything about it," he said. "When I was a kid I didn't even care about history."

Die-hard flintlock and cap shooters will spar in competitions that test accuracy in target, candle, shotgun and long gong shooting. The atmosphere is laid back "with a good amount of ribbing," Lehr said.

"What I love about the sport is that it is so family oriented," he added. "When you come and see it, it's not just husbands, it's husbands and wives and kids."

Lehr said he introduced his 16-year-old granddaughter to black powder shooting several years ago and she has participated in it ever since.

Sonora, Calif.-native John Barnam has been involved in the group for almost a decade. A strict flintlock shooter, he said the guns are a big draw for history buffs.

"The original guns from that era (1810 to 1830) are hard to find so we mostly shoot reproductions," he said, showing off a gun he built from hand-made parts. "They are not the type of guns you want to play in the dirt with."

All shooting events start with a safety lesson on how to handle the guns, load and fire them safely. Lehr said powder is pre-measured and poured down the barrel to prevent an accident resulting from a spark.

"A powder horn can carry a pound of powder," he said. "If that goes you can lose a hand or maybe your life."

Besides historically accurate clothing and cooking techniques, participants sleep the nights in canvas tepees.

Other events include accuracy tests in tomahawk and knife throwing.

The public is welcome to visit the encampment and watch competitions. An awards ceremony is planned for noon Sunday.


What: Eagle Valley Muzzleloaders Mountain Rendezvous

Where: Follow Rhodes Street west past Greenhouse Garden Center, continue on the dirt road for a quarter mile

When: Today through Sunday. Awards ceremony at noon Sunday


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