Welcome to the first issue of Muzzle Blasts Online, a publication of the National Muzzle Loading Rifle Association (NMLRA). The paper version of this electronic magazine has been around for 57 years, and we hope that this digital publication will enjoy the same longevity.
The NMLRA was formed in 1933, and currently its central offices are located in the small town of Friendship, Indiana. Friendship is nearly in the center of a triangle between Indianapolis, Cincinnati, and Louisville (Kentucky); several annual muzzleloading competitions are held on the association's grounds there, and thousands of people come to see the old guns, gunsmiths, and competitors.
It seems almost contradictory that an organization dedicated to the ideals of the past would jump headlong into the future with an e-zine and website (WWW.NMLRA.ORG), but here we are. Of course, as in any corporate decision, there are several reasons for our presence here, but the primary one is that we wanted to share our love of the blackpowder firearms with a wider audience.
Muzzleloading recently has seen an incredible revival of interest. The guns have gained in popularity through historic reenactments, rendezvous, and new hunting seasons. What once was the realm of a few hard-core enthusiasts has blossomed into a national and international phenomenon. Even the multimillion-dollar centerfire arms companies are getting into the act. The big news at the 1996 Shooting, Hunting, and Outdoor Trade (SHOT) Show was Remington Arms' introduction of the Model 700ML in-line muzzleloading rifle.
But the NMLRA was around long before this sudden burst of muzzleloading fever. Just like the singer who announces that she was ``country when country wasn't cool,'' the association formed to celebrate white smoke and single-shot firearms in 1933, when muzzleloaders were viewed as a backward, inconsequential step in the development of centerfire arms. Nevertheless, NMLRA members shot, built, hunted with, and generally enjoyed the aesthetics and simplicity of muzzleloading rifles, pistols, shotguns, and smoothbores for well over half a century, regardless of how the mainstream firearms community viewed it.
Suddenly, all has changed. Nearly every state in the Union has a special muzzleloading hunting season for deer or other big game animals. New regional and state muzzleloading competitions are cropping up everywhere. Small companies that have catered primarily to the needs of blackpowder enthusiasts for many years are now very big, and new businesses are forming almost daily. Major sporting goods chains that once didn't carry even roundballs or patching materials now feature rows full of the latest projectiles, cleaning solutions, and guns.
'Bout time everybody caught up with us.
Now, let's talk about this new magazine. Like many similar titles on the WWW, Muzzle Blasts Online has a paper counterpart and predecessor. Some of the material appearing in MBO will be the same as what's in an existing or upcoming issue of the magazine; some of it will be original articles designed just for the e-zine. However, because of the nature of electronic publishing, MBO will contain more up-to-date information about various events. For example, results of our National Shoots can appear within a few weeks of the last shot fired, rather than the three-month lag inherent in paper publications.
Financial considerations limit the number of photographs and pages that Muzzle Blasts can carry; but the Web and Firelands.Net allow much more freedom in these respects. A one-page article covering an NMLRA National Rendezvous could have a dozen color photos in the MBO version, versus two or three black-and-white shots in the paper monthly. So, even though there will be some repetition, for the most part Muzzle Blasts Online and Muzzle Blasts magazine will complement each other.
Since this is our first issue, the number of articles has been kept to a minimum. Don't worry, we'll increase them soon enough. Layout is also simple; we're all new at this, and we have to crawl before we can walk. Future plans call for several more articles, lots of hypertext links to other sites, medallions that lead to advertisers, audio and video clips from events and interviews - in short, all those wonderful things that make the online experience so enjoyable. And, of course, lots of photos. Stay tuned.
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