Whenever handling firearms, adhere to NRA’s fundamentals of firearms safety. Muzzleloaders require this and more. Since you load through the muzzle, be especially careful to avoid leaning over your rifle during the loading process. Additionally, keep your fingers and hands away from the front of the muzzle, and always hold around, not over, ball starters and ramrods.

Eye protection is an unequivocal must. It pains me to see muzzleloader shooters on the range, in the field and in other magazines not wearing eye protection. With muzzleloaders, the risk of eye injury is even greater than with a cartridge gun as a percussion cap is designed with creases and serrations that cause it to fly apart when fired.

You also shouldn’t smoke when shooting any gun because of the risk of lead poisoning. The obvious additional risk with muzzleloaders is that the powder is loose, rather than contained within a cartridge case, and is an explosive.

If you’re interested in learning more about shooting muzzleloaders, contact the NRA Training Div., Dept. AR, 11250 Waples Mill Rd., Fairfax, VA 22030-9400, phone: (800) 2673888, ext. 1481, and ask for the name and phone number of an NRA-certified muzzleloading instructor in your area.

Copyright National Rifle Association of America Oct 1997

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