Winner Takes All

Jul 4, 2013 in Articles


By Richard Hujsa


Back in the year 1974 my friend David Hardy and I, rightly or wrongly, considered ourselves to be two of the top muzzle loading rifle target shooters in the country. We had an enviable record, consistently winning nearly all the rifle competitions in which we participated. We were always on the lookout for new publicized muzzle loading rifle shoots in which to participate.


It was sometime that year we were made aware of a new shoot scheduled for the summer that was being heavily advertised. Considering how good we thought we were our egos’ told us to check out what we could potentially win at this scheduled match. We drove to the range to put out our wind flags to determine the wind direction to the target, “doping the wind”. We were invited to check out the prizes being offered the high scorers. The two days of shooting would cost us each $100 and we calculated we could not get our money back in prizes even if we took 1st and 2nd place in every match. After a long discussion we determined it was not worth the cost.


Being primed for a shooting contest, we decided to return to our home club, the Shartelsville Muzzle Loading Club, and have a private competition. We agreed to each put a hundred dollars in a hat and to shoot each other’s rifles in a three target match. Winner takes all.


The match was designed so each of us would shoot five shots at each of three targets; one at 25 yards off hand; one at 100 yards bench rest; and the third at 50 yards off hand. It was agreed the winner of the match would be the shooter with the highest aggregate score. The weather that day was ideal for round ball shooting. Our rifles were Dave’s heavy bench flintlock with a .54 caliber Douglass double X one and one-half inch octagon barrel equipped with Redfield receiver rear sight and globe front sight and an early Prussian lock. Dave’s 12 pound flintlock offhand rifle had a Douglass barrel and a large Seiler flint lock. My bench rifle was a .46 caliber Great Western Gun Works percussion rifle with false muzzle equipped with Lyman receiver rear sight and a globe front sight. My full stock flintlock offhand rifle weighing about eight pounds had a .54 caliber Douglass barrel and a Seiler lock. Both of our offhand rifles had open front and rear sights.


We completed shooting our 25 yard and 100 yard targets and moved to the 50 yard range. Being about even in our scores up to this time Dave shot his target first, a good score. I shot my first four shots which were in a very tight one hole group. Seeing the size of the resulting hole in the target Dave commented that another shot in that group would not be scoreable. He suggested my last shot be aimed about a half inch to the right. Concentrating I took a very good sight picture and pulled the trigger. Dave, who was carefully watching the last shot, picked up the hat and handed me the two $100 bills.


After we each cleaned our rifles he advised me that I was going to spring for a grand dinner at a fine restaurant. Sometimes it doesn’t pay to be the winner. I have never gone to a rifle shoot to have a good time, but I have always had fun after I was finished shooting.