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Muzzle Blasts Online
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Dec 1997/Jan 1998 Volume 2, Number 6

The NMLRA Gunsmithing Workshop and Seminar

June 4--12, 1998

Thanks to the cooperation and support of Dr. Terry Leeper, the NMLRA Gunsmithing Workshop and Seminar for 1998 will be held at Western Kentucky University in Bowling Green, Kentucky.

For the last three years we have had pre-workshop sessions and this will be expanded to include three hands-on sessions and one lecture/demonstration in 1998. Ric Lambert will do a session on longrifle photography; Ron Elhert will present a session on powder horn making; Frank and Hershel House will teach iron mount forging, and, Mark Silver will demonstrate filing, polishing, and burnishing. See the list of presenters for details. (And before you ask--No you can not take more than one short course in a year--they overlap.)

The format of the hands-on workshops will be the same as in past years. The six days of hand-on instruction will run from seven a.m. Sunday, June 7th, through two p.m. on Friday, June 12th. (This is before the National Championship Shoot begins on June 13th at Friendship.)

Pre-registration will determine which of the proposed courses listed below will be presented. For a session to be held it must have a minimum number of participants registered and with their deposits paid by February 15th deadline. This method of selecting which courses will be taught puts pressure on attendees to decide and register early, but an early deadline is essential in allowing presenters time to order materials and parts.

NEW for 1998--Each instructor has been asked to prepare a longer course description so that the new students can learn more about a course before signing up. By the time you read this the one page descriptions should be available by fax or mail from the NMLRA offices in Friendship. Call (812) 667-5131.

These course descriptions will help you decide which session you should register for or request more information about:

John Bivins--Carving

Bring a longrifle, fowler, or Jaeger that is ready to carve or work on a machine shaped longrifle butt stock that will go home with you as a study piece and reference. Chose any style of carving--American, European, or English. Topics covered will include setting up and lighting a work area, selecting and sharpening tools, making specialized tools, etc. Although beginners are welcome, this class in traditional carving techniques best serves those who have carved at least one stock.

Materials Fee: Approximately $90.00 if you choose to have John provide you with a pre-tuned maple butt stock to carve.

Jack Brooks--Longrifle Stock Shaping and Period Architecture

One of the most difficult features of a longrifle to capture is the architecture of its stock. Starting with a stock blank and pre-inlet tapered and flared barrel, and using an original John Bonewitz rifles as a prototype, participants will learn both the techniques of stock shaping and the subtle characteristics of period rifle architecture that are hard to see in photographs. Materials fee also includes a flintlock made by Jim Chambers and butt plate and trigger guard castings from the original.

NEW for 1998--Jack invites any previous Bonewitz rifle students to return and continue work on their earlier class projects. (Please write ``2nd year student'' on your registration form.)

Materials fee (for 1st year students): Approximately $400.00 for a Getz barrel, curly maple stock (with barrel inlet and ramrod hole drilled), Chambers lock, and cast brass mounts.

Gary Brumfield--Sheet Metal and Wire Inlay for the Longrifle

Learn the techniques for designing, making, and installing check piece inlays, thumb pieces, and forestock escutcheons. You will also learn to do the types of silver and brass wire inlay found on longrifles. And finally, as an often requested demonstration, learn how to inlet a silver signature plate in a rifle barrel.

Material fee: Approximately $90.00 if you choose to have Gary provide you with a pre-turned maple butt stock to work on. Some students may wish to work on a rifle they have under construction or bring a butt stock from an earlier carving or patchbox class.

Ron Elhert--Making and Decorating Powder Horns (Short Course)

Learn both the fundamentals of making a powder horn and the basic techniques of scrimshaw and polychroming found on finer horns. Beginning with a raw horn and a piece of wood, the student will make a horn in one of the styles popular in the French and Indian through Revolutionary War periods. This class will begin at seven a.m. on Thursday, June 4th and end at three p.m. on Saturday, June 6th. Minimum four--Maximum eight students.

Registration is $200.00 for NMLRA members and $250.00 for non-members. Material fee: Approximately $40.00 for the first horn. Additional horns in various sizes will be available.

Stocking the German Jaeger Rifle

Students will be instructed in the unique architectural features of the German hunting rifle. Attendees will start with a stock blank pre-inlet for a Getz barrel and cast brass butt plate and trigger guard based on a 1720 example. They will layout and shape the stock and inlet the butt plate. Ron will provide original Jaegers and reproductions to guide students through the process. Participants will need some experience with rasps, files, chisels, and to have basic inletting skills.

New for 1998--Ron invites those who took this class in 1997 to return and continue work on the Jaeger from that class. (Please write ``2nd year student'' on your registration form.)

Material fee: Approximately $375.00 for an American walnut stock, barrel, and hardware. An additional $100.00 for a European walnut blank is recommended.

Wallace Gusler

Due to research on his book on Virginia gunsmiths and their work, Wallace will not be teaching in 1998. He plans to teach longrifle carving in 1999.

Frank & Hershel House--Hand Forged Iron Gun Mounts (Short Course)

This three day hands-on class will be taught at Hershel's place (10 miles from Bowling Green) where several forges will be set up. The class will be limited to eight students with preference going to those signed up for the six day stocking class listed below. Forge the correct butt plate, trigger guard, etc. for the style of southern mountain rifle you will build in the stocking class. Tool list will be simple, stressing safety equipment, and blacksmithing experience is not required. Minimum three--Maximum eight students.

Registration is $200.00 for NMLRA members and $250.00 for non-members.

Stocking the Iron Mounted Southern Mountain Rifle

Build a basic, practical, iron mounted, southern mountain rifle. Variations include: Appalachian, East Tennessee, North Carolina, Southwestern Virginia, and early Virginia styles--flint or percussion, straight or swamped barrel, stock of maple or walnut. With the desire to send the student home with as close to a complete rifle as possible, Hershel and Frank teach their efficient workman like methods to show how to attain a quality product with a minimum of tools. Barrel will be pre-inlet and the ramrod hole drilled. Class limited to eight students.

Material fee: Approximately $300.00 for a rifle with a percussion lock and straight barrel. A swamped barrel, fine wood, flintlock, set triggers, are extra.

Ric Lambert--Longrifle Photography (Short Course)

This hands-on class is designed to teach the basic techniques needed to photograph longrifles at home or in the field. The course will cover both full-length and close-up work in both black and white and color. Class will benefit people at any skill level. No special equipment is required--bring the equipment you have and two roles of ASA 400 color negative film. (Ric is a professional photographer from Nashville and has attended the seminar. For a sample of his work look at the covers of the June 1995, August 1996, and May 1997 issues of Muzzle Blasts.) This class begins Friday, June 5th and ends mid-day Saturday. Registration is $75.00 for NMLRA members and $100.00 for non-members. Limited to fifteen students.

Mark Silver--Filing, Polishing, and Burnishing (Short Course)

Many of Mark's lock making students have requested additional instruction in these fundamental skills. This lecture/demonstration will help you master techniques that can be applied to any metal work. Class begins Friday, June 5th and ends mid-day Saturday. Registration is $75.00 for NMLRA members and $100.00 for non-members. Limited to twenty students.

Longrifle Engraving

Learn engraving with hammer and chisel, in the styles found on American Longrifle mounts, patchboxes, and inlays. Mark will stress learning the basic process but will also include other techniques such as shading and cutting borders. Much of the student's class time will be devoted to repeating designs on practice plates which they will take home as study pieces.

Material Fee: none (Due to the generosity of Dixie Gun Works.)

The registration fee for any of the six-day sessions will be $580.00 for NMLRA members. Non-members will have to pay $650.00--Obviously it pays to join. Short course fees are included in their descriptions.

We have given up the idea of on campus lodging. I will be negotiating with several area motels for a group rate but it will be in the range of $30.00 to $35.00 a night per room. Last year most folks found the privacy and cleanliness out-weighed the extra expense and driving time. We did start classes at seven a.m. to help with the parking problem and we worked a ten hour day by taking two hours for lunch and ending at seven p.m. Most folks agreed that ten hours a day is enough and were not so tired at the end of the week. Those who wanted more shop time worked through all or part of the lunch break.

Some of us have been dragged, kicking and screaming, into the 1990s. We now have e-mail. My address is and I check the mail about once a week. If you think that works best for you, e-mail your questions.

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