Sunday, January 01, 2023

Shot Another Woods Walk Today

For New Year's I was able to go shoot another woods walk at Boyertown today.

I posted yesterday about my shooting pouch. It worked out well today. I did change a couple things from when I shot the woods walk a month ago:

  1. This time my horn was filled with Goex 3Fg while a month ago it was Scheutzen 3Fg.
  2. I loaded with 65 grains of powder instead of 70 grains. This resulted in a little less fouling per shot but since I used different makes of powder, I can't draw a straight comparison.

My score today was the same as last month's: 11 out of 20. I consider myself a better than average shot but this course is difficult so I am pretty happy with it.

Some of the targets this time around were a little different. One gong was shaped like a hammer and sickle as seen on the Soviet flag, while the one next to it was a coronavirus. Both were most definitely worth shooting and I wish I'd taken a picture of them.

As I did last month, today I swabbed between shots to keep the black powder fouling down and make loading easy. I need to try shooting .480 balls instead of .490s to see if they shoot well in this gun, and if so, if I can get a few shots between swabbing. I haven't had the chance to do so in the past month.

Before packing away my rifle after the match I ran a couple wet patches down the bore to save some time when I got home. After getting home I ran several wads of tow down the bore, wet with Hoppe's No.9 Black Powder Cleaner. This did a pretty good job of scrubbing, much like a bore brush, so it reduced the number of cleaning patches I needed to use.

However, I'd still like to pump hot water through the bore for cleaning. I have a clamp-on flush tube from Track of the Wolf but it doesn't attach very well to my rifle because of the stock design. Over on the Muzzleloading Forum several members spoke highly of a flush tube that attaches to the barrel using strong rare-earth magnets, made by "The Lucky Bag". I could probably make something similar but decided to take the easy way out and ordered one. I am hoping that it will simplify cleaning my flintlock rifles.

Next Sunday there's another woods walk at the Boulder Valley Muzzleloaders in Green Lane, PA which I hope to attend. This is addictive.

Saturday, December 31, 2022

Shooting Pouch and Contents

I am planning to shoot in another woods walk tomorrow at Boyertown and in preparation went through my shooting pouch, so I thought it was a good opportunity to do a post on the contents. I will be shooting my .50 caliber George Dech flintlock longrifle, so the bag is setup to support it.

The bag itself was made by The Leatherman. I bought it many years ago at Dixon's. Although it was made to be worn on the right hip I wear it hanging on my left. If I can get motivated I may reverse the strap but that will require a lot of restitching.

I've previously posted about the horn, which came from October Country and then refinished by me.

The contents of the pouch are limited to support shooting and maintaining the rifle for a day or two of shooting. I could carry a few more things but then it would require fishing around in the bag too much.

First, note that I have a vent pick and pan brush hanging from the shoulder strap of the bag. I use the vent pick before priming the pan for each shot. This ensures that the vent is clear and allows me to confirm that I didn't dry ball.

On the top left is an Altoids tin containing cotton cleaning patches, some tow, a .50 caliber cleaning jag, and a US M1817-style worm to use with the tow. I also carry a small bottle of 70% rubbing alcohol in my jacket for use as a cleaning solvent. Running a damp patch down the bore between shots keeps loading easy and makes it so that my final cleaning isn't as difficult.

To the right of that is a tin with 30 0.018" shooting patches lubed with pure neatsfoot oil, and to the right of that is my powder measure, attached to the bag with a leather thong.

In the middle row is a leather bag containing 30 .490" round balls and next to that is my priming flask full of 3Fg powder. That will be carried in a jacket pocket during the shoot.

Below that is a flint/tool wallet and its contents: two lens wipes for my eyeglasses or the frizzen if it gets really dirty, ball pulling screw, patch pulling worm, three flints, and a piece of leather for holding the flint in the hammer.

This pic shows the back of the bag as well as the inside of the flint/tool wallet. It also shows the flint knapping hammer I carry in the bottom of the bag but forgot to take out for the first picture. I can use it to refresh the edge of a worn flint without removing it from the hammer.

I've previously used a small set of hand forged pliers for flint knapping, but Boyertown's rules require using a brass, non-sparking implement if knapping the flint when a charge is down the bore. I can't argue with that so I picked up the hammer shown since their last shoot.

Friday, December 30, 2022

Passed the GIAC GCIH Certification Exam Today

Today I passed the GIAC Certified Incident Handler (GCIH) exam. I previously reviewed the SANS Course, SEC504, which is the prep class for this exam.

In my previous career I was an attorney. After switching into IT, I took several certifications including COMPTIA's A+, Network+, and Linux+, along with getting my MCSE in Windows NT4 (yeah, I'm old). The GCIH exam was the most difficult test I've taken since the Pennsylvania Bar Exam.

The test consists of 106 multiple choice questions, about 10 or 11 of which require the use of a "CyberLive" virtual machine to perform a task. The test is open book with a minimum passing score of 70%, and there's a four hour time limit. I used up about 3 hours, with one very brief bathroom break.

If you search online for tips on passing GIAC exams, the one common theme is that you need to prepare a really good index of the course materials. SANS actually includes a course material index in their downloadable materials but you want to create your own, because the primary value of the index is the absorbtion of knowledge you get while creating it.

The way I built my index was as follows:

  1. Created a MS Excel spreadsheet with one tab for each of the five course books, plus a "Combined" tab.
  2. I then went through each book and indexed concepts and terms.
  3. Next, I assigned a different color to each book.
  4. Copied the contents of each book's tab over to the Combined tab.
  5. Used the Excel Sort function to sort the entries alphabetically.
  6. Copied this sorted table into MS Word and printed it.
  7. I put the printed index along with a bunch of cheat sheets into a 1/2" 3-ring binder.

I also used color-coded Post-It notes to make tabs for key sections in each book. The colors of the Post-Its matched the colors in my index. So, for example if I looked in the index for a term and it was color-coded yellow, I knew immediately to grab the book with yellow Post-Its sticking out.

Overall, I think I reviewed the SEC504 books three times, and did the labs at least twice each.  Another thing I did was sign up for a account and worked through some exercises relating to topics that the GIAC practice tests showed needed more attention from me, especially Metasploit and SQL injection. 

I'm currently working my way through TryHackMe's Junior Penetration Tester learning path, but that'll be the subject for another post.

Saturday, December 17, 2022

Shot the .36 Flintlock Again Today

Today I took the .36 flintlock rifle to the range again.

Before heading out, I setup a new Delrin ramrod for it that I got in my last order from Track of the Wolf. It's 5/16" in diameter with brass tip threaded to take 8-32 accessories. I cut it to a couple inches longer than the bore and then added another brass tip on the other end. That one is threaded to take 10-32 accessories. Because the ramrod thimbles are sized for a 3/8" rod and ramrod hole was drilled a bit large for a .36, I'm able to fully seat the rod in the gun without it being tapered on one end.

If your ramrod has brass or steel tips I strongly recommend pinning them in place. Even if they are glued on and a tight friction fit, they can pull off if you try to pull a ball, or get a tight cleaning patch stuck down near the breach. Drilling and cross-pinning them will prevent that.

For my first group of 5 shots I tried .358" balls in .015" patches. These were a real bear to seat flush with the muzzle, so I don't think I'll be trying that combination again unless/until I cone it. Once past the muzzle they seated on the powder without excess effort.

My remaining shots were with .350" balls in .020" patches. These were easy to seat with my short starter and of course, seated easily on the powder. I used October Country's Bumblin Bear Grease for lubing all the patches.

All told I fired about 24 or 25 shots today and experience no hang fires or misfires. However, I found that it was difficult for me to get consistent groups. I am 99% certain it's due to the front sight, which is only .06" wide and rounded on top, so how I see it is really affected by changes in lighting.

As an experiment, I didn't swab between shots for about the last 11 rounds. I was still able to seat the last ball easily.

Those final 11 shots were fired at steel gongs. I whacked an ~8" gong a few times and it didn't visibly move, although it rang nicely, especially when I bumped my powder charge from 35 to 40 grains of 3Fg Goex. A smaller gone, probably about 6" square did visibly move. This is actually giving me second thoughts about using this rifle in woods walks where you shoot at steel gong targets.

After I got home and finished cleaning the rifle I measured the width of the front sight on my George Dech .50 longrifle and found that it's .08". It also has a nearly vertical rear face. This front sight is much easier for me to see than the one on the .36, so I ordered a similar front sight from Track of the Wolf.

Along with the new front sight I ordered a 5 pound box of Hornady 000 buckshot, which they swage to .350" diameter. While the Hornady .350" round balls sold for use in muzzleloaders are pure lead, the buckshot has a little antimony in it. According to a few folks on the Muzzleloading Forum the buckshot works fine in .36 muzzleloaders. ASSuming this works out it's definitely cheaper than buying 100 count boxes of .350" round balls.

Note: Some manufacturers of 000 buck make it at .360". Likewise, Lee 000 buckshot molds nominally cast .360" balls. Hornady may use the same swages for .350" muzzleloader balls and 000 buckshot.

Anyway, I am hoping that with the new front sight I'll be able to shoot the rifle better.

Sunday, December 11, 2022

Shot the .36 Flintlock Rifle Today

I shot the rifle today and a load consisting of a .350 ball, 0.020" patch lubed with October Country Bumblin Bear Grease, and 40 grains of Goex 3Fg shows promise.

I started with 30 grains of powder and also tried 0.015" and 0.018" patches but they don't group as well. Recoil with 30 grains was on par with a .22 while 40 grains has slightly more push.

A member of the Muzzleloading Forum today posted that he has had good results in a Green Mountain .36 barrel using a .358 ball in a 0.015” patch. Track of the Wolf carries .358s so I’ll add a bag to my next order with them.

Once I settle on a load I'll adjust the sights so POA = POI at 50 yards. Currently it's shooting 2" or 3" to the right.


Saturday, December 10, 2022

A .36 Caliber Flintlock Rifle by C. Gibson

Today I picked up this left handed flintlock rifle at Dixon's.

Greg Dixon wasn't sure who built it but after getting it home I found it marked "C. Gibson '08" in the stock behind the patchbox. It's not signed on the barrel.

Some googling has not revealed any contemporary makers by that name, so I'm thinking it was put together by a talented hobbyist. Regardless, it's pretty well built and appears to have been fired very little.

Greg had actually done the engraving on the patchbox and toe plate, so I asked him to note that on the receipt.

The stock profile and trigger guard look very much like those found on the Isaac Haines rifle kits that Track of the Wolf formerly sold, which is nice because it's probably my favorite style of rifle.

The major components are all good stuff:

  • Barrel: Green Mountain 42” long x 13/16” octagon
  • Caliber: .36
  • Twist: Unknown but my SWAG is 1:48"
  • Finish: In the white
  • Lock: Large LH Siler flint
  • Triggers: Davis double-set
  • Stock: Unknown wood, pretty plain grain but with some nice carving and a cheekpiece inlay.

Although a smallbore it's no lightweight rifle:

  • Weight: 8.7 lbs.
  • OAL: 58”
  • LOP: 14”

It came with a vent pick attached with leather thong tied to trigger guard.

This is my first muzzleloading rifle smaller than .45 caliber. Along with the rifle I bought suitable ramrod accessories, a box of Hornady .350 balls, a bag of 0.018" ticking patches, and a bag of 0.015" patches to try.

The rifle came with a 5/16" ramrod but the channel in the stock is sized for 9mm or 3/8" rods, as are the thimbles. The top two thimbles have thin pieces of leather glued inside to keep the rod snug.

Depending on the weather I maybe able to get it to the range tomorrow, else it'll have to wait.

I'm looking forward to figuring out an accurate load and using it for target shooting, woods walks, and maybe small game.

Monday, December 05, 2022

Shot my first Woods Walk

I've been shooting muzzleloaders for over 40 years. However, yesterday I shot in my first ever woods walk match and had a lot of fun. I've been wanting to try one for a while and watching the videos from the Folk Firearms Collective certainly spurred my interest even more.

I'll definitely be doing it again.

The walk was held at the Boyertown Rod and Gun Association. The fellow there were very welcoming to this newcomer. The course of fire was 20 shots at varying distances. Each station was 3 shots, except for #1 and #20. The first target was an easy gong at maybe 15 yards, while the final target was a pushpin at about 10 yards. I missed that one.

The turnout was pretty good, around twenty shooters. I was pleased to see a group of Scouts participating, working on their muzzleloading merit badge.

The guns used ran the gamut from custom flintlock rifles like mine, to Investarm Hawkens, and one T/C Seneca .36 caplock. In order to help prevent the targets from being excessively damaged, Boyertown has a rule to keep calibers at .54 and below. Being in Pennsylvania, I expected to see flintlock predominate but the field seemed pretty evenly split between flinters and caplocks.

The last couple of trips I made to the range at my club with my flintlock longrifle, I did most of my loading from my shooting pouch but doing a woods walk provides a better shakedown for your gear.

My patches were lubed with 100% pure neatsfoot oil. I've used this in the past and was able to run over 20 shorts through my rifle without swabbing, but that may have been with a lighter powder charge. The air may have been more humid as well, which helps keep fouling soft.

Yesterday, I wound up swabbing between shots and a little extra between stations, to keep the crud down. Normally I use pillow ticking patches with .490 balls. I have some .480 balls I may try in the next shoot to ease loading. I got decent accuracy with them at 50 yards. The looser fit may allow me to load more times between swabbing.

Here is what I carried:

  • My George Dech flintlock longrifle. One thing I did at home so I didn't have to do so at the range was run a couple patches down the bore to remove the oil I use when it's being stored. I then ran a patch with October Country's Bumblin Bear Grease patch lube down it.
  • I brought a range rod with me but left it in my truck. I might bring it along with me the next time I do a woods walk.
  • Powder horn containing FFFg black powder. At 70 grains per shot I went through most of my powder. I need to see if I can get suitable accuracy and a similar POI with a lighter charge.

Shooting pouch contents:

  • Antler measure holding 70 grains of black powder, dummy corded to the bag.
  • Priming flask, dummy corded to the bag. I may just move this to my pocket.
  • Ball bag containing 25 round balls. I might replace this with a ball flask that can more easily dispense balls. E.g., 
  • A screw top tin containing 25 lubricated shooting patches. They were lubed with neatsfoot oil.
  • Small, hand forged pliers (can also be used to reshape a flint but the Boyertown rules require you to use a brass instrument to do so if the gun has a charge in it. Today I ordered a brass knapping hammer from Track of the Wolf.
  • Short starter. Even though my muzzle is coned I still used it because it gets a crud ring a few inches down the bore after a shot or two.
  • Vent pick and brush hanging from bag strap (I never used the brush but picked the vent before each shot.)
  • Rag, used to wipe down the flint, frizzen, pan, and my hands.

Inside the pouch I had tool wallet containing:

  • 3 spare flints.
  • Two or three pieces of leather for holding the flint in the hammer.
  • Hand forged turnscrew.
  • Ball puller.
  • Patch worm.
  • Two lens wipes with alcohol on them in case the frizzen really needed cleaning, but the rag was sufficient.

In a jacket pocket I carried a cleaning kit so I could swab the bore:

  • Small bottle of rubbing alcohol.
  • Altoids tin containing:
    • Cotton flannel cleaning patches (I mostly used these instead of tow.)
    • Hemp tow
    • Cleaning jag
    • M1817-style worm with tow pre-wrapped around it

Next time I might bring a ziplock bag or a tin with pre-moistened cleaning patches in it.

I recently joined the Pennsylvania Federation of Black Powder Shooters. In looking at the booklet they publish with match schedules in it, it looks like there are a few clubs within reasonable driving distance.